“You’re going to see a lot of uniforms tonight,” a Kennedy Center rep told us before we joined the rest of the audience for “9/11: 10 Years Later, An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection” at the Concert Hall Thursday evening. Indeed there were. The audience and the stage were resplendent with the presence of firemen, first responders and policemen from the area, as well as military personnel from all branches of the services. We all gathered for the grandest of music, the saddest of strings, plain and simple words from poets, the words of the men and women who wrote the stories to describe that history-changing, horrible and shocking day ten years ago. Everyone—the dignitaries, three former Secretaries of State, the horn blower, the singers, the musicians and the attendant men and women in uniform, the flag bearers among them—were in a great company of ghosts that went beyond the 2,000 or so seats in the concerts. The ghosts were the losses of 9/11 and all their loved ones and Americans the country over who witnessed their destruction in one way or another. If the occasion and the concert did not alleviate the pain of the memories, the music, words and company were salve for the soul, and the pomp—a full orchestra amid hanging, spectacular curtains and flags —certainly suited the circumstances. Everyone wore some form black or gray, even actress Melissa Leo who recited two touching and plain-spoken poems, although she was all in satin and sparkles befitting an Oscar winner. Former Secretary of States Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice all read from news reports of the time. A trio of first responders recalled in halting and vivid words their own experiences in the midst of soot and calamity. On the tenth anniversary, those things deserved and needed to be remembered. The Kennedy Center had put on two previous such concerts, one in the immediate aftermath to soothe a shocked nation, another a year later. The homegrown, superstar soprano Denyce Graves, who sang at the second concert, appeared again in regal style, singing an old spiritual, “City Called Heaven.” The National Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of John Mauceri, performed “Adagio for Strings,” the most stirring, powerfully sad funeral and grieving music of the day. Emmylou Harris, her hair as white as prophet now, sang a work by Stephen Foster, the 19th Century’s musical pop poet of America, a work with the ironic (for an audience keenly aware that President Barack Obama had just given a jobs speech in hard times in front of a Joint Session of Congress only moments ago) title of “Hard Times Come Again No More.” Then it was Leonard Cohen, another American songwriter-poet, whose “Hallelujah” could be called a triumphant lament, a song which got an impassioned workout by Raul Esperanza who went searching for every feverish emotion in the lyrics and found them, and perhaps a few more. But it was jazz trumpeter and jazz icon Wynton Marsalis who struck a balance, remembering and looking ahead, then and now with a muted horn and trumpet. He walked on stage early in the proceedings, but it was the archangel like blast of the trumpet that you heard first, and he moved across the stage like a wounded older man, the trumpet emitting at times shrieking anguish before settling for calls to heaven and the community. Returning near evening’s end, the tone was jauntier, the trumpet fairly bounded with sounds that encouraged hopeful dancing, high-stepping, looking back a little, but insisting there was a dance to be danced and songs to be sung yet. It was the tone that was perfect for now: honor the memory each and every one of the lost ones honor the bravery of that day that erupted spontaneously out of character, but look ahead, for these are times in need of a hopeful future.
There are at least three good reasons to see the Washington National Opera Company’s production of “Tosca” at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. They are Patricia Racette, Alan Held and Frank Paretta, the principals in this hugely popular and classically melodramatic opera. The fourth is Giacamo Puccini once again displaying all the reasons why he’s up there with Wagner, Verdi and even Mozart as composers of enduring operas. “Tosca”— one of Pucinni’s three great operas that includes “La Boeheme” and “Madame Butterfly”—is probably the least familiar among his works, maybe because of its less comfortable setting (Rome in the time of the Naoleonic forays into Italy in the early 19th century) and because it isn’t stuffed with long arias or overly crowded with secondary characters. It’s Tosca, her boyfriend and her nemesis, and the rest are window dressings with lesser functions. But Tosca, an almost feverishly passionate and direct woman, volatile as a volcano, is the main show. She is an artist, a renowned singer (from whence we get the word diva, apparently), who’s in love with another artist, the appealing painter Cavaradossi, who sings like an angel on top of everything else. But then there’s Count Scarpia (a villain by any other name, but especially this one), the chief of the secret police, relentless, cruel, completely amoral, who’ll torture and kill anyone who gets in the way of what he wants. In this case, he wants Tosca and he’s got Cavaradossi, who’s hiding a rebel in his estate. Scarpia puts Tosca in an impossible situation—he promises to let Cavaradossi go—staging a “fake” execution” if she succumbs to his advances, although he’s already come closing to raping her. But Scarpia has underestimated his prey even as she’s appearing to agree to the devil’s bargain. And so it goes—love, murder, passion, betrayal and it all ends very badly, about as badly for all concerned as you get. “Tosca” puts the T into operatic tragedy to say the least. But this is what we want in tragedy—the fun and the kind of feeling and music can you get out of a happily-ever-after. Imagine if Romeo and Juliet had lived and gotten married. Not so much. Puccini is every the innovator here: the arias—including the famous duet in the last act—are nothing less that focused, concise and powerful, not leaving room for anything less than powerful emotions. “Tosca,” like the upcoming “Lucia di Lammermoor,” is of course in the grand tradition of high dudgeon melodrama, full of improbabilities not the least of which was someone charging on stage announcing that “we’ve lost the battle.” “What battle?” you might ask, but never mind. A little thing like that never stopped lust, lost love and mayhem. And Racette—who’s known far and wide for her “Tosca”—justifies the acclaim with her beautiful soprano voice, singing strongly and clearly, with very little, if any, showboating and a consistent acting performance that makes Tosca a full-bodied, full-blooded character. Held, a bass—baritone who’s building a solid resume with Wagnerian performances, makes an imposing Scarpia, a man with giant appetites and a fierce, dangerous quality. He’s bigger than life and casts a huge presence. He’s answerable to no one, and you get a good idea of that when he sings of his plans and desires for Tosca wile a “Te Deum” can be heard in the background. Tenor Frank Paretta, mainly through his gorgeous singing and his chin-out stances of bravery makes Cavaradocci a heroic, romantic figure. You can also get a glimpse of opera legend Placido Domingo, no longer the man in charge at the WNO, but conducting for this production. “Tosca” is the first WNO production in its new affiliation with the Kennedy Center and it’s a popular choice and a focused execution that delivers the considerable virtues of the work, it roars with melodrama, and affecting singing and performances.
It's never a good thing, especially in our post-9/11 world, to be accused of threatening to "kill all Americans" and “bomb Georgetown." So continues the weird tale of the alleged killer of Viola Drath, who lived on Q Street. Albrecht Gero Muth, 47, charged with the second-degree murder of his 91-year-old wife Viola Drath, was ordered to remain in prison by D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher during a Sept. 9 hearing. Muth's next hearing is set for Nov. 18. There was “ample circumstantial evidence” which connected Muth to Drath’s Aug. 11 death, reported The Washington Post, which also cited the judge's observation that Muth held “prior animosity toward his wife of 22 years and would benefit financially from her death." The judge also concluded the the murder suspect was dangerous and likely a flight risk. Muth was arrested Aug. 16 by Metropolitan Police. Muth protested during the hearing, claiming that he was a officer in the Iraqi Army and that his imprisonment was a violation of the Geneva Convention. The Embassy of Iraq has stated that Muth is in no way associated with any governmental agencies of Iraq. Then, a new twist was revealed, as reported in the Washington Post: "The new allegations against Muth came from James Wilson, one of the lead homicide detectives investigating the case. Wilson said that Drath spoke with a lawyer about having Muth removed from her will about nine months before her death. She also solicited help from various people to have Muth deported because he repeatedly threatened and abused her and had threatened to 'kill all Americans,' Wilson said. In April, Wilson said, Drath told a witness that her husband had planned to 'bomb Georgetown.'" During the hearing, Muth's defense lawyer Dana Page argued that there was no hard evidence against her client. The motives of witnesses were questioned as well as those of neighbors who had heard of domestic abuse and did not call police.
A woman was attacked early Saturday morning, May 24, in the 2400 block of Wisconsin Avenue, NW, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. She appears to have been uninjured. Various media outlets, however, tell slightly different news stories of the incident, which took place across from Guy Mason Park. ABC7 News reported: "In the Glover Park neighborhood, residents aren’t used to hearing about this kind of crime. … According to police, the incident took place at about 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. A 19-year-old waitress had just gotten off work, and she was walking in the 2400 block of Wisconsin Avenue when a man grabbed her in an alley and tried to force her to perform a sex act. Luckily, she was able to break free and run for help. … Even at that time of morning, neighbors say there is usually foot traffic here, usually made up of patrons of the bars and restaurants." NBC News 4 added this to the story: "Sources tell News4 the suspect was a customer at the establishment where the woman worked earlier in the evening. The customer was 'pushy' toward the woman while she was working, but she had ignored his advances at the time, sources say. The victim told police the suspect pulled her into an alley just before closing time and tried to get her to perform a sexual act, but she was able to run away and call 911." This is part of what Fox5 News reported: "According to the police report, a 19-year-old waitress tells police a man pulled her by the head and forced her to perform a sex act at about 1 a.m. Saturday morning in an alley in the 2400 block of Wisconsin Avenue of Northwest. The police report calls the incident first-degree sex abuse with force. Police aren't releasing any real information about the case or a description of the suspect, but no arrests have been made and detectives have been seen in the area looking for evidence." MPD detectives were seen Memorial Day, May 26, walking along Wisconsin Avenue checking for leads and surveillance records of the incident. MPD had not issued a suspect description as of May 27.
If you watched the news or read it in the slim holiday editions of the dailies, you might think the world was moving on with its usual mixture of tragedy, farce, shock and awe. But weather, and time off, can be beguiling and almost make you forget that in Ukraine, there was a winner in the election, followed by an attack on an airport, and so the crisis remained. You could almost—almost—forget the terrible words of the young killer in his bitter lack-of-a-valentine to the world, before he began knifing and shooting people in the normally bucolic, essence-of-California-dreaming Santa Barbara area. In a long weekend suffused with the joy of everyday things like sunshine, the really red readiness of tomatoes at a market stall, finding the perfect rhubarb pie, you could even almost forget the wretched excess of a let-them-eat-cake wedding of a Kardashian progeny to a rapper named West, who had named their child North and spent a couple of million on their nuptials. In a weekend like that, you almost forgot the scandal that had reached its tipping point in the Veterans Administration and its care and the availability of care for our wounded veterans of wars going on for more than a decade now in the terrible, blasted landscapes of Iraq and Afghanistan. Except, of course, this being Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C, you couldn’t forget that—not when there was the annual presidential wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, nor when there are so many men in old uniforms in town. These men with often fragile, thin bodies of what is left of the Greatest Generation made their way to the World War II Memorial—ten years old now—their ranks thinning, accompanied by family and accepting salutes. The tanned, often tattooed men of Viet Nam were there, roaring in with Rolling Thunder, or touching the names on the wall. None of them could quite ignore the lack of care, the careless caregiving that emerged like a reproach in the media. The president noticed, and so did we all. In this town, on Memorial Day, we noticed them—from the wars of the last century and this one. Honors bestowed on the passed and fallen soldiers, the survivors, their families, made the weather-perfect day, not only ideal but somber and big with feeling. On the wall, at the memorial wreaths, at the white-crossed cemetery, and at the parade, it was about them—and about us, too. The parade was quiet in some ways, not loaded with thousands of spectators, but enough to fill the hot-cement sidewalks from 7th Street to 17th Street, as high school marching bands came along, the twirlers, the trombones, the drum majors, bright in their uniforms and energy, from all over the country, playing America and patriotic themes, followed by facsimiles or the real ones from all of our wars—those fife and drum corps from the Revolutionary War, ladies in crinolines and old men in long white bears, the flags of the United States and the Confederacy marching oddly side by side. One time, everyone stopped and someone played "Taps." Down at the National World War II Memorial, there was a group gathered around a thin man in a brown uniform, family it was, and he was in a wheelchair and his name was Philip Adinolfi. He was there with family and his wife of 60 years, Grace. He wore corporal stripes and had served in distant Egypt in the Army Air Corps, when America's newly minted army took on the armies of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel in North Africa. A young captain with his son walked up to him and saluted him, and the boy shook his hand, and a tanned Viet Nam vet shook his hand in respect. He had been there the year before, talking with a D-Day veteran of the Omaha Beach landing in Normandy 70 years ago. On this day, the school bands came on in rolling notes of music, signaled by the brass. They had come from Adamsville, Tenn.; Bryan, Texas; Rayland, Ohio; Cape Coral Fla; a place called Kahoka, Mo.; Coventry, Conn.; Tarpon Springs, Fla; Gaffney, S.C.; Hazelton, Pa; China Grove, N.C.; Pomeroy, Ohio; North Platte, Neb.; Franklin Lakes, N.J. There were all sorts of people along the way, the family of man, and their children, and grandchildren and pets. In the parade, was a band of the Hero Dogs, honoring the canines who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and had made it home, too—mostly labs and goldens who loved the attention and marched in little soft boots to protect their paws from the hot cement. On this day, there were Miss America Nina Davuluri, other beauty and prom queens and astronauts and a veteran of the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo. Lt. Colonel Richard Cole, Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot in April 1942, served as the parade's grand marshall. There were Lion Clubs and large photographs of the long-ago youthful soldiers. There was a mother and her three daughters, whose father had been killed in Afghanistan. There we were on May 24, 2014, in the bright sun, cheering, saluting, shaking hands, giving respect, united in our awe and love for them, their respect painfully earned and deserving of the best. We stood and sat under trees or on curbs. We watched and whistled and remembered neither Kanye nor Kim nor somewhere in Ukraine nor a demented killer in California. We remembered, instead, history marching by. [gallery ids="99235,103697" nav="thumbs"]
Rose Park -- which runs next to Rock Creek from M Street to P Street and along 27th Street and 26th Street – is scheduled to break ground for renovations in July. The park will receive many upgrades, including the installment of LED lights for pedestrians, resurfacing of the playground, tennis and basketball courts, new climbing wall, new picnic tables and updated landscaping. The tot lot will have a larger sandbox and new slides. The $ 1.5-million project is set to begin in July after the Old Georgetown Board approves of the final concept plan at a meeting in June. Georgetown’s Kadcon Construction will be in charge of making renovations to the park. Rose Park will also get new structures with a Rock Creek and farmers market theme. “Rose Park will also continue to have its farmers market theme, and the construction will not interfere with the Georgetown Farmers Market which happens every Wednesday,” said John Stokes of the Department of Parks and Recreation. “We are very excited for this project,” Stokes said. “As a part of the District’s PlayDC initiative, we are hoping to see more residents and kids come out and enjoy the renovations that will be made to the park,” Stokes said. After all the renovations are completed, Rose Park will have a ribbon-cutting in October.
Cuban + World Graphics Art Open House + Mayan Textiles & Vintage Magazines May 30th, 2014 at 10:00 AM | $19 to $199 | CubanPosterGallery@msn.com You're invited to our Open House 10 am to 4 pm on Friday and Saturday (May 30-31) at 3319 O Street NW. 200+ Cuban silk-screened movie posters plus 100+ Cuban political and solidarity posters. Most $29 to $129. Global social cause posters. Kitschy Chinese MAO posters. Hand-woven Guatemalan Mayan textiles. Vintage Time and Foreign Service Journal magazines. For collectors, interior designers and gift seekers: For every five items you select, you'll get the lowest priced free. No limits. Address 3319 O Street NW Four Seasons: Project Gravitas Pop Up Shop May 31st, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Aba@taapr.com | Event Website The Four Seasons in Georgetown will be hosting Project Gravitas's first D.C. Pop-Up shop Saturday, May 31st and Sunday, June 1st. Project Gravitas founder and CEO, Lisa Sun will be showcasing "the perfect dress" and the team will be offering personalized fittings for the dress collection that empowers through luxury tailoring made in NYC, Italian fabrics, and a hidden shape wear secret. This exclusive opportunity provides a chance to touch, feel and try on the dresses which are typically only available for purchase online. Click here for more details. Address Four Seasons in Georgetown; 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW A Toad-ally Awesome Prince – Outdoor Children’s Theatre May 31st, 2014 at 01:00 PM | $12 Adults, $10 Children ages 2-12 | email@example.com | Tel: Aimee Eddington (703) 777-3174 | Event Website Join us May 31st and June 1st at 1 pm for a ribbiting adventure in this un-frog-ettable original tale. Git-it! Git-it! Is a kiss all it takes for a real transformation to take place? Don’t be a tadpole - come to the show and find out. This is a kinder, friendlier story of “The Frog Prince”. http://stagecoachtc.com/ for tickets and more information Address Oatlands Historic House and Gardens; 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane; Leesburg, VA 20175 Tom Goss Album Release Party May 31st, 2014 at 07:00 PM | $15-20 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: 202-681-1151 | Event Website Guitar-toting, power-pop musician Tom Goss returns home to D.C. after his recent international tour supporting his fourth album, "Wait." Root rock band, North Country, is the opener. Goss’s earnest, thoughtful lyrics have propelled him to a serious singer-songwriter status. Goss’s music has been featured on ABC and HBO; his videos, often in support of the LGBT community, have received millions of hits worldwide. Address 600 I St NW, Washington, DC 20001 Survive DC May 31st, 2014 at 07:00 PM | email@example.com | Event Website For one night, drop your family and your work, forget your responsibilities and obligations and... Run for Your Life! SurviveDC is capture the flag, tag, trivial pursuit, and Carmen Sandiego all rolled up into one. The new mission awaits players 7 p.m., May 31, starting at Stanton Park. Follow @SurviveDC for hints. Address Stanton Park; Washington, DC 20002 Spotlight on Design: SHoP Architects June 4th, 2014 at 06:30 PM | $12 Member & Student; $20 Non-member | Tel: 202-272-2448 | [Event Website] Over the past two decades, New York-based SHoP Architects has set the standard of creative innovation in the field and modeled a new way forward with its unconventional approach to design. Coren Sharples, AIA, presents the firm’s recent work, including Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center arena and the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gabarone, Botswana. Signed copies of the firm’s latest monograph SHoP: Out of Practice (Monacelli, 2012), will be available for sale in the Museums Shop. 1.5 LU HSW (AIA) Address National Building Museum; 401 F Street NW
At the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Dupont Circle, the Shakespeare Guild, hosted by John Andrews, was sponsoring a talk and back-and-forth between actors Ed Gero and Stacy Keach, who were starring at the Shakespeare Theater Company in the two parts of “Henry IV”, playing the title role and Falstaff, respectively. It was high-spirited talk and theater memories—about Keach playing Falstaff for Joe Papp in Shakespeare in the Park when he was in his twenties, Gero taking on Bolingbroke twice in different productions of “Richard II.” But in the end, because this was the week that it was, Gero got up and read from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” He spoke crisply and with emotion, because the day before, the poem’s author Maya Angelo had died at the age of 86. That news meant a lot to a lot of people, including the people here to talk about Shakespeare and acting and fathers and sons, and lines and words written by the man—William Shakespeare—whom Angelou once called “my first white love.” If words were enough—that is writing lasting words in the form of several memoirs, many, many poems, written, recited, remembered—as achievements honored and remembered, then Angelou would be in a pantheon of the many: those gifted writers of songs, plays, novels, memoirs, histories and tales we tell ourselves down the generations. She would be among the finest practitioners, no question, and she has always been accredited in this way. But there was more to Angelou than her status as a poet, wordsmith or writer, because she was and remains a source of inspiration not just for what she wrote, but for the life she lived -- a life richly lived. Her life was the source of all the words, her youth growing up in segregated Arkansas, an African-American girl growing up in the American South were the signs of separation were everywhere, crept into your mind walking around town, bending over to get a drink of water She wrote words, sure she did. But she did things. She had a voice that was hard to forget as a young girl by all accounts, but also as an icon, as a woman pulling the beautiful words of “On the Pulse of Morning” out into the cold inaugural air when Bill Clinton became president in January 1993: “Here on the pulse of this new day/you may have the grace to look up and out/and into your sisters eyes, into/your brother’s face, your country/and say simply/very simply/with hope/ Good morning”. She was at some point or another a singer, a dancer, an actress—see that challenging woman in “Roots”—a mother, a wife, a number of times, a streetcar conductor. She once toured 22 countries in a production of “Porgy and Bess.” She was a traveler, a civil rights activist, and a symbol for young, and not so young African-American women just about everywhere. She was just plain vivid. If her voice was sometimes angry, it was also pushing forward, encouraging women to do more than just keep on keeping on, to aspire, to achieve, and always recognize unfairness and injustice for what they were. Her poem, “And I Rise,” flies out like a sharp bird, challenging everyone not to accept, to be themselves: “Does my haughtiness offend you?/Don’t you take it awful hard/’cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines/Diggin’ in my own back yard.” Women who became teachers, who rose, too, like the sun and famous people and mothers raising children were inspired by her, as was our current National Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway, herself a mighty poet. She wrote, in the 1970s, the first of several memoirs and the most memorable: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” She became after a while, and into time, an icon who transcended race while bringing it to the fore, and everyone, at some point or another, listened to her, and thought about what she said. She didn’t lack honor or honors. So, on a Thursday afternoon, Gero, who had played Scrooge and painters, and kings and princes and blinded dukes began and then ended: “The caged bird sings/with a fearful trill/of things unknown/but longed for still/and his tune is heard/on the distant hill/for the caged bird/ Sings of freedom.”
The Green Festival, America’s largest sustainability and green living event, will run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, May 31 and June 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. At the event, participants will have the opportunity to listen to speaker address ways that helps to create more sustainable community. In the panel discussion “Creating Healthy, Sustainable & Livable Communities,” scheduled 3:30 p.m., May 31, the panel will share their successes and failures that they had in accelerating sustainability and greener living through their local initiatives. They will discuss the connections that green living has with community entrepreneurship. Under business and technology, speakers will discuss the economy and how various companies are making the way to create a greener future with various types of technology emerging. The panel discussion, “A Greener Future: A Business Perspective,” will discuss how environment-friendly businesses are thriving in their industries. There will also be interactive sessions where participants will learn about nutrition and how to develop a sustainable diet, including “Spring Clean your Cooking” by Deboleena Dutta, a session where practical tips will be shared on how to clear out the junk from your kitchen and cook more healthfully. Many companies that promote a sustainable environment, including Busboys and Poets, Downtown D.C. BID and Benitez Collection, will be vendors at the festival. For more details, visit GreenFestivals.org or follow @GreenFestival.
Saturday, Sept. 24, Everard’s Clothing on Wisconsin Avenue will be hosting a trunk show for men and women featuring Romanian-gone-New-York-designer Yoana Baraschi and Italian designer Daniel Dolce. 10 percent of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the USO, a non-profit organization dedicated to “lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families.” Everard’s Clothing is an upscale, full boutique, serving both women and men with designers from all over the world. According to his website, Louis Everard has 15 years of experience in the clothing industry and has won numerous industry awards for his work. Daniel Dolce, according to his website, aims to design timeless and unique pieces that complement the well-dressed gentlemen. His latest campaign features model Shane Duffy, a U.S. military veteran. Duffy was scouted by a model agency in New York and quickly signed to work for Daniel Dolce. At the trunk show, both Dolce and Duffy will make an appearance. Yoana Baraschi has been in the industry for 20 years working for designers like Betsey Johnson, and for the last nine years she has been designing her own line of women’s wear including dresses and jackets. Baraschi’s New York Fashion Week show featured androgynous Serbian-Australian model Andrej Pejik, famous for his feminine looks. Representatives from Yoana Baraschi will also be at the trunk show to showcase her Fall 2011 and Holiday 2011 collections. The trunk show will take place on Sept. 24 at Everard’s Clothing on 1802 Wisconsin Ave., NW, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. [gallery ids="99238,103984,103996,103989,103993" nav="thumbs"]