Special Reports

[Off The Beaten Path]
Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

March 31, 2015

Location: Phoenicia, NEW YORK
July 29-August 2, 2015

The Phoenicia Festival of the Voice is—in the words of a Sondheim song to be heard there this summer—a “weekend in the country.” And a very full weekend it is, in a Catskill State Park hamlet west of Woodstock, NY.

Because this five-year-old event celebrates the voice both singing and speaking, there are several categories of vocal music, as well as a theater production. This summer’s aptly named theme is, “The Diverse Voices of America.” A concert staging of the opera Of Mice and Men is to be directed by the composer, Carlyle Floyd, and Robert Manno’s opera, Do Not Go Gentle—The Last Days of Dylan and Caitlin, will have its premiere, in workshop form. Elizabeth Scott will conduct the festival orchestra, created from a mix of New Jersey Festival Orchestra members and local and international musicians.

The cast of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music will be led by Tony nominee Ron Raines. (Susan Powell, a former Miss America, will be Desiree, who sings “Send in the Clowns.”) Souvenir, Stephen Temperley’s funny and poignant two-character play, recreates Florence Foster Jenkins, an endearingly awful singer who used her wealth to create a vocal career for herself.

Recitals of American songs—some newly composed and/or written for the singer—will be presented by Frederica von Stade and Lauren Flanigan. Composers Jake Heggie, Thomas Pasatieri, and Ricky Ian Gordon will all be represented.

Driving is a scenic and convenient way to get to Phoenicia, but in that tiny town, one can walk to the seven busy venues. These range from a parish church to a covered lawn big enough for several thousand listeners and their picnics. According to baritone Louis Otey, a festival co-founder who sang small roles at the Met, the festival budget of $90,000 comes largely from the New York State Council on the Arts, and from several local donors (none with deep pockets). Tickets to performances, panels and workshops range from free to $75. —Leslie Kandell



Law and Disorder by GG Arts Law

Career Advice by Legendary Manager Edna Landau

An American in Paris by Frank Cadenhead



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