Krikawas bring character, wit and beautiful singing to the Blue Heron


Last Saturday at the Blue Heron, Jennifer and Andrew Krikawa serenaded Islanders, treating a packed house to a splendid romp through an evening of American opera.

With their program of American composers both known and rare, they spirited us away to a world where communicating with these sumptuous tones seemed surprisingly normal. Both are such wonderful singers that we never saw their technique — only their passionate expression, the mark of true artists.

The performance — slated for a second show on Saturday, Oct. 11,— was directed by Island favorite Elizabeth Ripley, who used staging so natural that she was able to show off her performers to their best advantage. Here again is an artist whose technique is always subservient to the Muse. Brava.

In the scene from Samuel Barber’s “Antony and Cleopatra,” for instance, the stage was suffused in a beautiful sunset glow, courtesy of lighting designer Megan Armezzani. We see a silhouette, mysterious — what is it? Ah, they move. It is two lovers, locked in love’s embrace. Their bodies mirror the music as the voices weave in and around each other.

The Krikawas — both of whom have performed professionally in New York and elsewhere — were riveting, down to the very last measure when Cleopatra dies in perfect rhythm. This was my favorite piece.

Joining the Krikawas were Joe Farmer and Marita Erickson, another pair of Island treasures.

Farmer is usually seen conducting Vashon Voices, and Islanders have rarely had the opportunity to hear him sing. He has a wonderful tenor voice and an endearing stage presence. We look forward to hearing more from him.

And Marita Erickson — need I say more? Whenever she takes the stage, she sparkles both vocally and theatrically. I delight in recalling one entrance in particular: A spear entered, all by itself, a theatrical feat worthy of Steven Spielberg. But wait, it was attached to a histrionic soprano. Even better!

But alas, the evening was not without its sardonic moments. Consider the selection from “Amelia goes to the Ball,” by Gian Carlo Menotti. Amelia (Jennifer Krikawa) made her entrance wearing these hideous Sarah Palin glasses. The audience froze. Could she save the moment? Fortunately for all, she quickly removed them, and thus her beauty could shine forth once again.

Their accompanist Evan Stults is a singer’s dream. Being a singer himself (he sang many seasons with the Seattle Opera), he offered strong pianistic support. By breathing with his singers, he is able to help them shape their musical phrases to best suit their artistic vision.

The behind-the-scenes genius was Nancy Bachant, working her Svengali magic to bring the best to all of her artists.

The costumes and poster were handeled brilliantly by Mistress Lillian Ripley, Elizabeth Ripley’s talented daughter.

If all of this doesn’t entice you, consider the the evening’s finale, a hilarious piece that takes the listener on a frolic of operatic hits — “Traviata,” “Carmen” and that ubiquitous favorite, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

There is something for everyone in this night of American opera. Tickets are going fast. Don’t miss this rare treat — opera on Vashon Island.

— Elizabeth Nye is a singer, conductor and music teacher.