Operagasm Exclusive Review: BCO Adrienne Danrich Shines Bright in “This Little Light of Mine”
by Wade Davis
Baltimore Concert Opera’s “This Little Light of Mine” is a miracle to behold and a perfect way to recognize Black History Month through the arts this weekend! If you are able to attend tomorrow (Sunday, March 1st), GET THERE.
Adrienne Danrich is not only a gifted singer, but also a beautifully articulate speaker on and off the proverbial cuff. The soprano essayed the groundbreaking careers of two towering pioneering black women in classical music: Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. What was most remarkable about the performance was the way in which she illuminated the determination and fruition of their careers alongside the very real racism that these singer faced on a daily basis. We forget how far we’ve come sometimes.
Throughout the beautiful evening at Baltimore’s Engineer’s Club, she elegantly imbued their stories and voices with her own glittery, soaring instrument. I have never been so moved by “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”! After hearing the story of Marian Anderson’s legendary recital in front of the Lincoln Memorial when she was denied entry to the concert hall because of her skin color, I was truly affected by this patriotic chestnut.
And those GORGEOUS pictures of Marian Anderson in those beautiful gowns with flowers in her hair reminded me, especially in the wake of television’s Downton Abbey and Baz Lurhman’s incredible film The Great Gatsby, that in the 1930s and 40s everyone was working the glamorous and elegant card — regardless of color. I loved seeing Leontyne Price in full glory as a glamorous icon of the ’60s and ’70s. What a powerful way to witness what the Civil Rights movement was accomplishing even then, in little but BIG ways.
Ms. Danrich presented a lineup of Spirituals, art song, and opera arias showcasing her range, versatility and immaculate artistry. Her delivery of Madama Butterfly’s final aria “Tu, tu, piccolo iddio” was a masterclass in itself. This is how you excerpt an aria in concert, people! As an observer, you could just tell she’d sung the entire role before that! And my suspicions were confirmed: In speaking with her after the concert, she mentioned that both Butterfly and Leonora (Il Trovatore) were in her back pocket. I’d loooooovvve to hear her in those roles and anything else!
Be on the lookout for this outstanding singer both in classical and non-classical venues. She has a one-woman show about the Harlem Renaissance featuring poetry by Langston Hughes and the songs of Billie Holiday, which was commissioned by Indiana University of Pennsylvania upon tremendous success of “This Little Light of Mine”.
Adrienne Danrich is definitely on my soprano radar as of now. She needs to be on yours.
Join BCO for a pre-performance lecture 30 minutes before each performance.
Need to eat before the opera? Dine at the mansion before the performance! Complete your BCO experience with a delicious dinner or brunch buffet preceding the opera. $42 includes the full buffet, tax and gratuity. Make your reservations now and pay at the club. Reservations must be made 48 hours in advance to guarantee seating.