We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


They’ve all gathered: The courtesans, the consumptives, the madwomen, the maids. Wait, the maids? They’re out of place in an evening of celebrated operatic expirations, aren’t they? Yes and no: Susanna and her soubrette sisters don’t meet with unhappy ends, it’s true, but librettist Kathleen Cahill needs them so her sob sisters will have someone to complain to. Cahill’s Fatal Song, or The Great Opera Murders throws a dozen or so of opera’s most recognizable tragic heroines together in what looks like somebody’s dressing room, but it doesn’t give ’em much to talk about. (“Don’t listen to Lucia,” cracks a perky Mozartean: “Her antidepressants have worn off.” And that’s one of the funnier lines.) When they’re not yakking, though, the assembled members of the Maryland Opera Studio sing like fresh-voiced young goddesses. Stacey Mastrian had me rapt with Mimi’s introduction from La Bohème (which, given my devotion to La Freni, is saying something), and her technique was all but flawless in the doll’s aria from The Tales of Hoffman. Rebecca Ocampo made the glassware ping with Cunegonde’s “Glitter and Be Gay” and the Queen of the Night’s vengeance aria, and my seatmate was ready to sell himself into sexual slavery to rescue Millicent Scarlett’s Manon Lescaut from the desert wastes of…Louisiana. (Hey, Puccini was a melodist, not a geographer.) And then, damn her, Scarlett (pictured, with MC Jay White) scaled her volcanic voice down to a murmur for the “Ave Maria” from the Verdi Otello, and we all wept for her doomed Desdemona. Pray for these ladies now and in the hour of their enviably splendid deaths, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13 (see City List for other dates), at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Kogod Theatre, University Boulevard and Adelphi Road, College Park. $30. (301) 405-2787. (Trey Graham)