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February 6, 2012

The Susan Graham recital that wasn't

Nothing like an invigorating 70-minute drive to DC, only to discover that the trip is for naught.

Happened to me Saturday afternoon -- arriving all a-flutter at the Kennedy Center to hear Susan Graham's recital for the Washington Performing Arts Society, only to be told by the garage attendant that the mezzo-soprano had canceled. Oy, vey.

I knew my karma was off that day. Earlier, I couldn't access my email (for reasons still unknown), where I would have found a notice of the cancellation. And, just for extra fun, as I arrived at the Kennedy Center, a warning light on the car went off, so I felt my life was complete.

I'm sorry Miss Graham got ill. Honest I am. But, hey, a year ago I went to the Met to hear her sing "Iphigenie" and darned if she didn't cancel. So I am beginning to take this personally -- it's all about me, as you know.

At least there are delightful recordings of this fabulous singer to savor. I put together a few here, to create a mini-recital for the benefit of anyone else who felt forlorn over the weekend. I've chosen a couple of exquisite French songs, and two funny items, including the one about ...

mezzos and pants roles that Miss Graham she surely would have sung on Saturday:

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:29 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes


Dear Tim, I deeply apologize!!! I'm so sorry you had to drive so far, and I wish you would have gotten a phone call to alert you that the recital was cancelled! There is NOTHING easy about making that decision, and it literally broke my heart to have to do so (Just ask Malcolm, he was trying to calm me down all morning!!). And in the department of "not my day:" just as you were fighting email and automotive demons, I slipped and fell in the shower as I was vocalizing in the steam, trying to summon a voice that wouldn't make an appearance that day! We both had "just what I need today" moments! Again, I apologize deeply.
But I'll be back to DC next time around. HEALTHY!
Susan Graham

Please, please don't apologize. I really am most sympathetic to any artist brought low by illness or other misfortune (so sorry to hear about the shower episode). My inconvenience pales greatly in comparison to yours. As for my blog post, I should mention that I always follow the advice La Callas gives in 'Master Class' -- "Never miss an opportunity to theatricalize." I hope you're better soon. Cheers. Tim

I was going to comment that I've seen Susan Graham in opera and concert over the last fifteen years or so and have never known her to cancel or give less than her best.

However, Ms. Graham showed her class and dedication by her own post.


I couldn't agree more. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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