Baritone William Michals is taking a few days off from performance in the Lincoln Center revival of "South Pacific" to travel from New York City to Vienna Virginia's Wolf Trap Center for a grand night of singing. He will perform Friday with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Chorus, soloists Lisa Vroman, Gary Mauer and conductor Emil de Cou in a program that gives him as much joy as it does his audience -- "A Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration."
If you go A Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration Where: Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna When: 8:15 p.m. Friday Info: $20 to $52; wolftrap.org
"One of the joys of doing a pop concert of the dedicated tunes of a composer and lyricist is [that] you sing all of their greatest works rather than be riveted to just one character," Michals said. His new CD, "Broadway in Concert" will be available to the public after the show. "These songs give you a whole evening of Rodgers' and Hammerstein's best." And like the best of any performer or group, audiences can anticipate the creme de la creme from an iconic team that represents the quintessential American musical theater.
The entire ensemble will present such classics as the "Overture to The King and I," "It's a Grand Night for Singing" from "State Fair" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" from "Carousel."
Michals' own solos include "Ol' Man River" from "Showboat" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific." He then jokes in reference to the conductor, "There will be two Emils on stage."
Conductor de Cou put together a program from what he says are his "big list of favorites," ones that he likens to the American folk music tradition.
"It's amazing how different the musical pieces are," de Cou said. "If you listen to the "Carousal Waltz' or the 'Overture to the King and I' or 'The Sound of Music,' they almost sound like they are from different composers because [Rodgers and Hammerstein] would change the harmonic style, the art style."
De Cou also sings the praises of Robert Russell Bennett and Jerome Kern, who adapted the great team's pieces to make it so distinctly American.
"It's hard to imagine that there was a time when something like 'It's a Great Night for Singing' didn't exist. It's evergreen."