Wasserstein Celebrated at Glimmerglass Opera

Posted: December 5, 2006

On Tuesday, November 28, the voice and memory of Wendy Wasserstein '71 echoed through the Colony Club in New York City as Glimmerglass Opera presented "An Uncommon Woman: A Celebration of Wendy Wasserstein and Music."

As a tribute to the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright and Mount Holyoke alumna who died in January, a program was put together featuring readings, music performances, and film clips from Wasserstein's plays and operas, as well as performances by the Mount Holyoke Chamber Singers.

"It was an incredible honor for the Chamber Singers to partake in the inspiring celebration of one of Mount Holyoke's prominent alumnae. We all enjoyed sharing our musical talents and MHC pride in the presence of other alumnae and guests who so loved the empowering works and life of Wendy Wasserstein. The event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!" said Mary Grams '08.

The Chamber Singers, led by interim choral director Kimberly Dunn and accompanied by professor of music Larry Schipull, opened the program with Les Sirenes, a song on the empowerment of women, and also performed To Walk Beyond Dreams, composed by Mount Holyoke professor of music Allen Bonde, and The Goodnight Song, to close the celebration.

Actresses Stockard Channing and Allison Janney, who both received Emmy Awards for their roles on The West Wing, performed readings from Wasserstein's plays, including Aunt Florence's Bar Mitzvah, The Heidi Chronicles, and Isn't It Romantic.

Portions of Wasserstein's opera The Festival of Regrets, as well as her musical Pamela's First Musical, were performed by opera singers Matthew Worth, Monica Unus, and Djordje Nesic.

"The event on Tuesday night was a huge success, designed beautifully and thoughtfully by Glimmerglass," said Linda Laderach, professor of music. "It honored Wendy Wasserstein for her many successes and accomplishments. I was both excited and humbled to be there, and I was so proud of our students and of Kimberly Dunn and Larry Schipull for their leadership."

Interspersed between performances were video clips of Wasserstein's plays and operas, as well as portions of interviews of Wasserstein with Charlie Rose.

"It was a very moving evening because the spirit of Wendy was palpable in the room. There was an incredible sense of what a huge impact she made, how beloved she was, what a tremendous loss she is to us, and how proud we are to claim her as one of our own," said Patricia VandenBerg, executive director of communications and strategic initiatives at Mount Holyoke, who attended the performance with President Joanne V. Creighton.

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