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In performance: WAM! Mozart at the Atlas

Web-only review:

InSeries brings Mozart's childhood, for children, to the Atlas
by Joan Reinthaler

Among the delights that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart bequeathed to posterity was WAM, a most un-Mozartean acronym, which Carla Hübner and her innovative InSeries have seized on for its latest offering. Their "WAM!" is a sort of operatic/balletic coming-of-age story, its high-energy but dreamlike scenes touching on researched events in Mozart's life from early child prodigy through his marriage to Constanze. Presented in partnership with young dancers from the training division of Septime Webre's Washington Ballet, it opened at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Saturday to a full house.
(read more after the jump)

The show is more ballet than opera (not a surprise, since it was conceived by the dancer and choreographer David Palmer) but Hübner has done a terrific job of finding just the right music for each scene: as a prologue, the piano variations on "Ah Vous Dirai-Je Maman" (better known, here, as the tune to the alphabet song), arias from "Bastien and Bastienne" written by the 12-year-old Mozart, and music from "The Abduction From the Seraglio," "The Marriage of Figaro" and "The Magic Flute" as he slipped from the supervision of his father and began to enjoy the pleasures of food, drink and love.

With no dialogue other than the reading of four letters from important points in Mozart's young life and not a lot of direction from the program, it takes a while to figure out who's who and what's what (it's the dancers, not the singers, who are the people in Mozart's life) but the show's structure does eventually define itself and its energy is always engaging.
Jong-Suk Park dances Mozart with weightless grace and he is joined by 10 other members of the Washington Ballet Studio Company who mix and match in various well-coordinated combinations. The singers presented a more uneven landscape -- Laura Lewis, Anamer Castrello and Bryan Jackson, all entirely satisfying in their various assignments, and Laura Wehrmeyer, Peter Burroughs and Sean Pflueger, for whom Mozart's elegance was more of a stretch.

The piano solos (movements of sonatas) and accompaniments were handled with admirable clarity and dramatic timing by Carlos Rodriguez (with Hübner's occasional assistance) on what was a deplorably out-of-tune instrument.

Performances continue through Jan. 31. Call 202 204-7763 or visit

-- Joan Reinthaler

By Anne Midgette  |  January 24, 2010; 9:35 PM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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