Saturday, August 5, 2017

A French Affair in Phoenicia

The eighth annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice kicked off last night at 8 pm with a treat for ears and eyes: “Voices of Distinction—A French Affair,” featuring Piaf, Offenbach, Brel . . . and can-can! The evening was filled with glorious music and dance in a gorgeous setting (Phoenicia’s Parish Field), with soaring tents and trees lit up in purples, blues and reds. At the concessions tent there was even a miniature Tour Eiffel picked out in tiny white lights.

Fortunately, yesterday afternoon's monsoon was over and the two-hour outdoor performance was completely free of rain (unlike the water-soaked passion of this year's FotV program cover; see image at right).

From the start this festival has boasted world-class performers, and 2017 is no exception. Last night MC (and co-founder) Maria Todaro, Lauren Flanigan (soprano), Lucas Meachem (baritone), Mirelle Asselin, (soprano) and Irina Meachem (pianist)—all of whom are acclaimed internationally—were joined on the stage by Parisian superstar Olivier Laurent, the so-called “man of 110 voices.”

But FotV isn’t just about veteran artists. Last evening’s audience was on its feet for 14-year-old Maia Weis (alto) and 16-year-old Layla Michalopoulos (soprano), both of whom are residents of Woodstock. These young teens gave astonishingly polished performances that would have done credit to women two or three times their age.

EW Verdict: The weekend is still young and the weather in Phoenicia looks good. Link here to get tickets for today’s and tomorrow’s FotV performances. Or if you’re unlucky enough to be reading this after 8/6/17, don’t hesitate to attend next August’s celebration. It’s another incredible Woodstock-area experience that just has to be on your bucket list.

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