Director’s Desk: Unveiling Expression

WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists singers perform "La donna e mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto. Photo: Chris Flynn/ National  Endowment for the Humanities

WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists singers perform “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Photo: Chris Flynn/ National Endowment for the Humanities

This past Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a special program at the Italian Embassy called “Verdi: Uncensored”. It featured a presentation by renowned musicologist, University of Chicago Professor Emeritus, Philip Gossett and performances by several Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. The program was introduced by Kenneth Feinberg (best known as the administrator of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund), former President of the Washington National Opera (and owner of over 9,000 opera recordings!). The program revealed many original scores that  scholars have unearthed, showing how intrusive church, court, and police censors had been over decades, sometimes totally distorting meaning and logic in the operas. Bravo to the National Endowment for the Humanities for supporting this scholarship for some thirty years! I learned a lot about Verdi and I had reason to reflect on the importance of free expression and the insidious impact of censorship on artistic expression.

Director’s Desk: Summer Doesn’t Slow Us Down

Education's Natalie Mann and Meagan Estep work at the Phillips entrance with Development's Jane Kestner. Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

Education’s Natalie Mann and Meagan Estep share ideas at the Phillips entrance with Development’s Jane Kestner. Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

It may be summer but lots of good work is happening at the Phillips. Last week I took a break from my desk to discover colleagues from the Development and Education departments involved in major projects as well. The poster behind them is a good reminder to see our Ellsworth Kelly exhibition… not to mention Braque and Baltimore based artist Bernhard Hildebrandt!

Dorothy Kosinski, Director

Director’s Desk: Art that Startles

April is poetry month. I love Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia written to a marvelous text by W.H. Auden, one of my favorite poets. (I recently enjoyed a performance by the King’s College Choir.) The refrain to the patron saint of musicians reads thus:

Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions/ To all musicians, appear and inspire/ Translated Daughter, come down and startle/ Composing mortals with immortal fire.

It seems to me this text applies to all the arts. The word ‘startle’ is perfect. Art knocks us out of the everyday, jolts us into a realm of possibility. Isn’t that why we love a visit to a museum like the Phillips?

Dorothy Kosinski, Director