The program starts on Friday with “Voices of Distinction,” a performance by world-renowned soprano Lauren Flanigan and emerging opera professionals. Saturday’s headliner is for Mozart fans: Don Giovanni, accompanied by subtitles, will be performed by the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Metropolitan Opera maestro Steven White, and a cast of acclaimed artists including bass Morris Robinson, soprano Michelle Jennings and tenor Barry Banks (en route to open a program of Verdi at La Scala in Milan). Earlier in the day, a piano piece by Justin Kolb, Babette Hierholzer and Sylvia Buccelli will make the instrument sing in a whole new way, since they’ll be contributing six hands.
On Sunday, Palestinian composer and musician Simon Shaheen will make the leap from traditional Arab music to jazz and Western classical. Later that afternoon, more than 100 voices will convey the full splendor of the grand finale chorus of Vivaldi’s Gloria. There will also be events for children (ticket prices are $5), including performances by Uncle Rock, Ralph and Ralph and a Clearwater-sponsored event called “The Power of Song.”
The Festival isn’t only about fun. In a statement, founders Kerry Henderson, Louis Otey and Maria Todaro noted that they initially wanted the event to showcase the voice because of the healing power of song. “We don’t want the audience to leave merely feeling entertained; we want their spirits to reach a higher level,” they write. “Classical singing, particularly opera, has an ability to uplift, to cause vibrations that ripple through people…we want concertgoers to leave events suspended in a cloud of indescribable sensation, where something has lifted inside and the singing made it happen.” Meanwhile, bringing so many people to Phoenicia also obviously gives the town a boost, with festivalgoers visiting the local shops and restaurants in between events (and maybe even going tubing).
Tickets for the three evening concerts are $25 general admission, $55 VIP. The nine daytime concerts are $15 each, while the three children’s performances are $5. Students and teens age 13 to 17 pay $5, while children age 12 and under are free. A four-day general admission pass is $165, $265 for VIPs. Seating is on the lawn, so be sure to bring lawn chairs, a blanket and a picnic. For a full listing of events and more information about the artists, visit www.PhoeniciaVoicefest.com.