Szkafarowsky performs as part of TWG Cultural Fund's Music Series

by Yaro Bihun

OLD TOWN ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Bass Stefan Szkafarowsky, who has performed with the Washington Opera in the past two seasons, returned here on April 6 with a recital featuring some of the arias he has sung in this hemisphere's opera houses, a few Broadway favorites, as well as a collection of songs by Ukrainian composers.

His recital at The Lyceum, a few miles south of the capital in Old Town Alexandria, Va., was part of The Washington Group Cultural Fund's 2002-2003 Music Series, conducted under the patronage of the Embassy of Ukraine.

The first part of the program featured arias from Mozart's "Magic Flute" and "Marriage of Figaro," "Verdi's Macbeth" and "I Vespri Siciliani," "Wagner's Lohengrin" and Rossini's "Barber of Seville," and concluded with "Old Man River" from Jerome Kern's "Showboat" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from Rogers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific."

After intermission, the program focused on songs and arrangements of folk songs by Ukrainian composers: Ihor Sonevytsky, Viktor Kosenko, Mykola Lysenko, Valerii Skorochod, Yulii Meytus and Oleksander Bilash.

In response to the audience's prolonged applause, Mr. Szkafarowsky returned with two encores - "Mariah" from "Paint Your Wagon" and Lysenko's "Bezmezhneie Pole."

Mr. Szkafarowsky was accompanied by pianist Gary Hammond, a respected recitalist and chamber musician.

The last concert of the TWG Cultural Fund's Music Series this year will be on May 18, featuring pianist Lydia Artymiw.

Over the past few years, Mr. Szkafarowsky has emerged as an important American bass, praised for the quality of his voice and his technique. His current season includes a debut in Italy at the Cagliari Opera House in "Oprichnik" by Tchaikovsky and a return, in Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress," to the Metropolitan Opera, where he debuted last season as Balaga in "War and Peace."

With the Washington Opera in the last two seasons, he sang Crespel in "The Tales of Hoffman" and Ferrando in "Il Trovatore," and has sung with the National Symphony Orchestra as well.

In earlier seasons Mr. Szkafarowsky has also performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the New York City Opera, as well as with the opera companies of Grand Rapids, New Orleans, Arizona, San Diego, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Santiago (Chile), Montreal, Minnesota, Sao Paulo, and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.

In addition to the National Symphony, Mr. Szkafarowsky has also appeared as soloist also with the symphony orchestras of Pittsburgh, Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado, Hartford, Milwaukee, Vancouver and Montreal.

A native of New York, he attended the American Opera Center at the Juilliard School of Music and the Westchester Conservatory of Music. He is a recipient of grants from the Sullivan Foundation and the Tito Gobbi Award from the Rosa Ponselle Foundation, and is a regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 27, 2003, No. 17, Vol. LXXI

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