Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

Cinci’s Don Carlo Grand Opera
in truest sense

Perfection! In case I did not make myself clear, the word is perfection.

Cincinnati Opera mounted a most difficult and demanding opera, Verdi’s Don Carlo, as the second production of this summer festival season. Don Carlo is a story, based mostly on historic facts, about the collision of a medieval mentality with the emerging humanism of the Renaissance. The factual dates are actually the turn of a century, 1599 into the 1600s.

The dark and foreboding plot deals with persons, royalty and commoners, who are ruled by fearful obedience to their king and their church. In this case both king and church remain medieval in their autocratic ways. The King wanted to be like God, only his model was a vengeful and angry God.

The next generation is revealed in the character of Don Carlo. The crisis defines the major generation gap between father, King Phillip II, and son.

To complicate the clash even further, Carlo has met Elizabeth, daughter of the King of France. They fall in love and are promised to each other.

Wait a minute! Political forces betrothed Elizabeth to none other than King Phillip. Carlo loses a beautiful fiancée and gets a stepmother. Phillip gets more than he bargained for. Not every one of his wishes comes true in spite of his regal authority.

My previous experiences with the opera have been quite dull. Three productions over 40 years have left me coldly uncaring about the characters and musically unsatisfied.

I depended on Impresario Evans Mirages and his gifted staff to replace those dreary experiences with operatic jewels. In 2006, Cincinnati rescued Tales of Hoffman from my personal junk pile and made it a stellar memory. I had the faith that Don Carlo would receive the same treatment.

I underestimated the power of Mirages and the Cincinnati Opera staff. The experience was, to repeat for emphasis, perfection. Evans had issued a proclamation that this was to be the finest assemblage of Verdi voices conceivable. He was right.

The cast included several major characters in debut roles. American tenor Frank Porretta joined Italian baritone Marco Caria, American soprano Michelle DeYoung and American bass Morris Robinson in the major roles of Don Carlo, Princess Eboli, Rodrigo and the menacing Grand Inquisitor. The cast was completed by the God Wotan personified, James Morris as the king, and Dayton Opera superstar Angela Brown as the hapless queen.

Rath er than describe the plot and each character, let me describe what makes overall perfection. Impresario Evans joins many others in stating that opera is voices. But, opera is more than voices singing. They must sing together, to each other and act with the full range of emotions. All of this is set to complex music which must be cued to each vocal line

From the opening notes of the orchestral overture, Conductor Richard Buckley wove a spell. If I could describe the opera, it is not big arias separated by recitatives. It is a seamless musical flow. Every part commands an importance. Both male and female choruses had intense and vital sections.

Throughout the opera, no voice soared or retreated into subtlety without the orchestra, a flute, an oboe or a harp tone supporting it with blended sounds. I am certain that there were several thousand cues which had to be observed. Again, perfection is the only word that comes to mind.

The machinations of the plot, the characters’ personae, both noble and dastardly, came alive with the singing. The staging made the clarity even greater as the movement on stage seemed natural and appropriate.

The set, a very kinetic unit which altered before our eyes in many of the scenes, became a highlight in the progress of the opera. The lighting, there was a dark side but it was never gloomy, focused interest.

In scene after scene, the singing was so beautiful that the principals had to remain frozen to accept prolonged applause. After a major soliloquy, James Morris was glued to his desk chair for an interminable period while the audience continued to pour out loving appreciation. Finally, the lights changed intensity to signal, “That’s enough, let the opera continue.”

Literarily, there is no fit ending for this story. The king, despotic in his unconcern for his people but clinging to his ideas zealously, ends up the winner. Or does he? The ghost of his father, Emperor Charles V, sung by versatile David Michael, proves not to be a ghost but the hidden emperor who retreated from the world into secret monastic life.

Shakespeare would have taken this story and made it into a comedy, perhaps Much Ado about Something. Verdi, part of the politics of Italy’s revolution creating a unified country, was sympathetic to the revolution against the Spanish King but had a strange way of showing it – the King wins?

No matter, Cincinnati Opera has created a great piece of Grand Opera in its truest sense. Perhaps its match may not be seen again. I can only hope that each member of this enlightened cast will carry their artistry into every future role they perform. Once you have experienced perfection, hold on to each scruple of its memory and hope it comes again.

Morris glassworks exhibit extended at DAI

By popular demand, The Dayton Art Institute has announced the special exhibition, William Morris: Myth, Object and the Animal, will be extended through Aug. 2. The amazing works of blown glass have fascinated audiences over the several months since the exhibition opened in February.

William Morris is among the pioneering artists who brought attention to studio glass art as a medium for contemporary expression. After serving as Dale Chihuly’s chief “gaffer,” or master glassblower, he opened his own studio in 1980. Morris, who recently retired from working in glass, has work represented in museums across the United States and throughout the world.

The Dayton Art Institute’s showing of this is presented by the museum’s 90th Anniversary sponsors, The Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, The Berry Family Foundation, Premier Health Partners, The Dayton Power and Light Company Foundation and Miller-Valentine Group, with support from DoubleTree Hotel. The exhibition was organized by the William Morris Studio in Stanwood, Washington.

Auditions for Cabaret at Dayton Playhouse

The Dayton Playhouse is happy to announce auditions for Cabaret, directed by Chris Harmon, on July 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. in the Dayton Playhouse Lobby. Those auditioning are asked to prepare one minute (16 bars) of a Broadway style song.

An accompanist and CD player will be provided. Please be ready and dressed to learn a dance combination. Those auditioning only need to appear on one of the audition nights and are asked to bring a list of conflicts from July 13 – Sept. 13.

Callbacks will be Wednesday, July 8 at 7 p.m. and will consist of singing from the show, cold readings and dance. Performances will be Aug. 28 – Sept, 13 at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

You can email the director with questions at

Gem City Chorus to perform July 12

The Gem City Chorus of Sweet Adelines will present a musical tribute to America, “A Star-Spangled Celebration”, on Sunday, July 12 at 2 p.m. at the Centerville High School Performing Arts Center, 500 East Franklin St., Centerville, Ohio.

There will be guest quartets, including the hilarious men’s quartet, “Bustin’ Loose,” as well as door prizes, a fine jewelry raffle, and a 50/50 raffle.

Reserved seats are $12/$15 in advance and $15/$20 at the door. Call (937)433-1014 for tickets. View Chorus information at:

Giving Strings music now available

Attention all Giving Strings Musicians: The Giving Strings music is available for pickup at 158 E. Dixon Ave (one block south of Shafor Park). Anyone wishing to be a part of the orchestra should pick up a part, which is available any time. Some pieces of interest on the program include Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto in D, and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The rehearsal is on Friday, Aug.7 at 7 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 3440 Shroyer Rd., Kettering, and the concert is on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at Shafor Park in Oakwood.

OBPA congratulates OHS Band for great year

Meredith Hollingsworth and Maggie Light-Scotece were each awarded $1000 scholarships by the Oakwood Band Parents Association. They wrote winning essays on how being a member of the Oakwood Band shaped their high school experience.

The Oakwood Band Parents Association congratulates Director Ron Nelson and the student musicians on their achievements during the past year. This school year saw great progress in the bands across the district.

All of the ensembles performed at a high level—at community performances, football and basketball games, and in concert as well. The Oakwood High School Band rated a “superior” performance at the Ohio Music Education Association state contest. The Junior High Band received an “excellent” rating and won second place at the Kings Island Music in the Parks event in May. And, the elementary school bands marched with the Junior High band in the parade on That Day in May.

The High School Band honored its graduating seniors this spring and awarded special awards to several of its members. Timothy Grannen received the Frederick R. Walker Award for exemplifying the spirit of community service. Hannah Enloe received the national John Philip Sousa Award, an honor for which she was selected by her fellow band members. Also, the Oakwood Band Parents Association awarded two $1000 scholarships to Meredith Hollingsworth and Maggie Light-Scotece.

The National Association for Music Education reports that the benefits of studying music extend to every area of achievement including success in school, success in employmentand in developing language and memory skills. Thank you to the Oakwood community for enthusiastic support of our bands throughout the year—the community’s cheers and patronage are a large part of the success of our program.


top of page

June 30, 2009
Volume 18, No. 26

front page
'round town


display ad rates!




Classified ads
are $10.00
50 words
or less

The Oakwood Register
print version
is available
to subscribers anywhere
in the USA





in the
The Oregon District













University of Dayton
Artist Series



National City
2nd Street Market








The Oakwood Register
site design by Hamilton Innovative