Nationally renowned artists perform in Pinedale

Nationally renowned mezzo-soprano Katherine Calcamuggio Donner and pianist Lisa Lewis perform a free concert at the Pinedale Library’s Lovatt Room on April 9.

Opera can be intimidating

for a lot of people. The genre is often

performed in grand opera houses and concert

halls where the musicians and singers

seem to be miles away on a stage separated

by a wall of formal protocol and etiquette.

Opera divas and famous tenors conjure

up an image of a self-absorbed superstar.

Operas have a reputation for being long

marathons that go on for hours.

On Tuesday, March 9, renowned mezzo-

soprano Katherine Calcamuggio Donner

and pianist Lisa Lewis made opera and

classical music accessible and welcoming

in the Lovatt Room.

Calcamuggio Donner and Lewis connected

with the audience throughout the

performance. Calcamuggio Donner interpreted

the lyrics of songs written in foreign

languages and provided meaning and

historical context for each piece.

“Music is a universal language,” she

said. “Each song has something from the

human experience that we can connect to.”

Calcamuggio Donner did not claim the

stage as her own but shared it with Lewis

as an equal partner.

“Pianists make or break a singer,” she

said. “They’re also great psychotherapists

for singers.”

The concert opened with a collection of

folk songs arranged by American composer

Aaron Copland. Children were encouraged

to participate in fun songs like “I Bought

Me a Cat.”

A series of German lieder, or songs, by

19th-century composers Robert Schumann,

his wife Clara Schumann and Johannes

Brahms followed the American folk songs.

Calcamuggio Donner said the first songs

were based on love letters written between

Clara and Robert.

A song by Brahms was based on his unrequited

love for several women, including

Clara Schumann. Robert Schumann died at

a young age, leaving Clara to raise eight

children. Brahms was there to offer emotional

and occasional financial support.

Calcamuggio Donner moved the audience

from Germany to Italy for a set of

songs by Giovanni Paisiello, Vincenzo

Bellini and Paolo Sogno. The names may

not be familiar, but the themes of their

songs were.

“The Italians love to sing about getting

scorned in love,” Calcamuggio Donner explained.

She brought the deep heartbreak

in each song to life through her voice and

expressions.

Lewis played a solo on the piano, a

jazzed up version of Fats Waller’s hit

“Ain’t Misbehavin.’” The concert ended

with a collection of show tunes including

“Right as Rain” by Harold Arlen and Jerome

Kern’s “Lovin’ that Man of Mine.”

`Calcamuggio Donner has performed

with the Kentucky Opera, Evansville Philharmonic

Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra

and Green Bay Civic Symphony among

others. Her repertoire includes leading

roles in Verdi’s “Requiem,” Beethoven’s

Ninth Symphony, Handel’s “Messiah”

and Richard Strauss’ opera “Ariadne auf

Naxos.”

Calcumuggio Donner is a professor of

voice at the University of Lousville.

Lewis studied piano and organ at the

University of Louisville where she is a

staff accompanist for the school’s music

department. Lewis has performed on the

organ, piano and harpsichord across America

and Europe.

The Piatigorsky Foundation in New

York and the Pinedale Fine Arts Council

sponsored the concert.


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