by: Marlene email

DSC_8743I don’t know why, but it always amazes me when members of the Virginia Opera Company perform here on the Eastern Shore. Maybe because of its stature as the “Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia”, maybe because its other venues, the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, the Dominion Arts Center in Richmond and the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, are so imposing by comparison. But last Sunday afternoon, there they were at beautiful Lemon Tree Gallery in Cape Charles, 5 members of the Virginia Opera Company’s Emerging Artists program ! Stars in the making, they gave a wonderful performance of “Aria’s and Duets” in the small and intimate Lemon Tree setting in Cape Charles VA, particularly special because the audience can connect so personally with the performers. And such a lovely feel, surrounded by the gallery’s impressive collection of works by local artists and artisans.

Soprano Rachel Mikol led off with an aria from Mozart’s “The Impresario” followed shortly by the familiar and beloved Puccini aria, “ O mio babbino caro”, an audience favorite. The program concludedDSC_8588 with a soaring Marian Anderson spiritual performed by baritone Phillip Bullock and mezzo-soprano Melanie Campbell. Lots of energy was brought to their program which included an interesting mix of classical and modern, including a selection from Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The
Woods,” sung by Bullock and bass-baritone Joshua Arky, all accompanied by accomplished pianist, ChanMi Jean. But the showstopper was Campbell’s strong rendition of Hammerstein’s “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” from Showboat.



At the conclusion of the performance, the audience gave a standing ovation and Clelia Sheppard’s daughter, Sheila, and her granddaughter, Aven, presented bouquets of lovely pink roses to each performer. After an encore, wine and light hor d’oeuvres were served, giving audience members an opportunity to meet and speak with the performers. All the performers were terrific, and Ms. Whipple and Mr. Bullock were standouts. Definitely we can expect to see all of these “ emerging artists” making their presence felt on the national and international stage.


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