In performance: Bastien und Bastienne
Mozart, by and for kids
by Charles T. Downey
Among the many offerings of the Kids Euro Festival was a free performance of Mozart's singspiel "Bastien und Bastienne," presented Saturday morning by the Austrian Embassy. As the capacity crowd of children and their adults arrived, magician David Morey was ingeniously on hand to keep young minds engaged until the performance began.
(read more after the jump)
The opera, written when Mozart was 12, offers glimpses of the greater achievements to come. The most memorable number, "Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry," is given to Colas, a self-proclaimed magician who helps reunite the eponymous twin-named young lovers.
Baritone Steven Scheschareg, the only adult in the cast, scored a big hit with this silly aria of fake magic words, peering over his tome of imagined arcana at the wide-eyed children gathered at the front of the room. As Bastien and Bastienne, treble Noah Winston Donahue, 13 (Mozart actually wrote the role for a tenor), and soprano Katherine Mariko Murray, 17, sang with composure and confidence, with the assistance of capricious amplification. A wig-bedecked narrator, Matthew August, pretending to be Mozart, helpfully gave a running
commentary of the action in English. The audience's mostly patient attention waned in some of the longer numbers, sung in German, but the English dialogue, which replaced Mozart's recitatives and spoken lines, reeled them back in quickly. Conductor Jesus Manuel Berard led an ensemble of 17 talented players from the D.C. Youth Orchestra to provide the accompaniment.
It was a charming hour of operetta, performed by young people for young people, capped off by a parting gift of post-Halloween sweets.
-- Charles T. Downey
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