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Kim Witman
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As the Director of the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Kim Pensinger Witman is an important force in shaping the next generation of classical vocal talent in the U.S.

A pianist turned arts administrator, she became Director of Wolf Trap Opera and Classical Programming for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in 1997. During her tenure, she has produced over 50 operatic productions ranging from undiscovered baroque gems to commissioned world premieres. Under her direction, the Company earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Opera Recording in 2009, for a live performance CD of John Musto’s Volpone.

For twenty years, Kim has traveled the country, identifying the brightest talent for the Filene Young Artist Program at Wolf Trap, hearing almost ten thousand auditions in the process. Sought after for her expertise by many organizations across the country, Kim is a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

A talented pianist, Kim has accompanied many Wolf Trap Opera alumni in concert, including Alan Held, Kate Lindsey, and Nathan Gunn, among others. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Phillips Collection, the White House, and at New York’s Merkin Hall.

Kim lives in Vienna, Virginia with her husband, a music educator for Fairfax County Public Schools. Her daughter is Manager of Meetings and Operations for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and her son is a Software Development Engineer for Microsoft. She also writes regularly at www.wolftrapopera.org/blog.

Entries by Kim Witman

Opera As Team Sport

(0) Comments | Posted June 17, 2013 | 8:35 AM

Let's start with some free association. Topic? Opera singers. Go.

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Diva. Egotistical. Self-centered. Larger-than-life. High maintenance. High strung. Rude.

We are currently producing an opera with 12 soloists. As our director said, that's at least eight or nine more than any opera needs....

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Performing in Modern Times: Signal & Noise

(1) Comments | Posted March 8, 2013 | 5:44 PM

During his recent viewing of Wagner's Parsifal at the "Met in HD" movie broadcast, fellow Huffington Post blogger Eliot Dailey found the artist interview intermission features jarring.

Not everyone would agree, as some folks undoubtedly welcome that kind of contrast in a five-hour afternoon of opera. But...

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Can You Hear the People Sing?

(2) Comments | Posted February 26, 2013 | 2:29 PM

Watching the Academy Awards while following a Twitter stream of professional singers is to witness a curious and unique combination of empathy and turf war. So it will come as no surprise that my colleagues served up a crazy entertaining commentary on Sunday night's musical excerpt from Les Mis.

We...

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Opera: Excitement, Drama and Wipeouts

(0) Comments | Posted February 1, 2013 | 10:21 AM

"Why would anyone want her to fail?"

"For the excitement. The drama missing in their own lives. Look around. These people would love a good wipe-out. Now that would be real opera."

The above, from Richard Powers' The Time of Our Singing, is an exchange between young professional...

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Chasing the Dream

(0) Comments | Posted December 14, 2012 | 2:27 PM

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On this fall's nationwide talent search, over 70 singers told us about their career paths, aspirations and quirks. (Previous posts here, here and here.)

Today, the final entry -- audition season strategies, observations and advice.

The Topic: Audition...

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I Didn't Choose This Career. It Chose Me.

(0) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 1:35 PM

Our month-long cross-country search for next season's singers has drawn to a close. There were plenty of nervous auditionees, ten thousand miles on planes and trains, a dodged hurricane, many memorable people and much great music.

Along the way, we gave our 500 auditioning singers the chance to fill out...

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Apples, Boots, Neti Pots, Water Burps & Rocket Surgery

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 5:33 PM

Today, a slightly lighter follow-up to last week's post. We're halfway through our 8-city audition tour, and both posts feature answers that the singers in our waiting rooms submitted via anonymous surveys. Enjoy.

Do you have any particular audition season strategies or unusual routines?

Making animal noises at...
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So You Want to Be an Opera Singer

(6) Comments | Posted October 22, 2012 | 3:03 PM

I'm on the road, sitting all day every day in a series of large rooms, waiting for a different person to sing at me every ten minutes.

This is an odd enough way to make a living, to be sure. But it's the people on the other end of...

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The Strangest Job Interview

(0) Comments | Posted October 19, 2012 | 5:19 PM

You arrive at the interview site with a large bag and duck into the bathroom to change into a memorable outfit -- the knee-length teal dress with the color-block heels or the new custom suit with eye-catching tie. After all, it's critical that the clothes are classic but current and...

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What Success Looks (and Sounds) Like

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2012 | 11:00 AM

Knowing where to place the goalposts is the first step.

I run a small opera company whose engine is a small group of prodigiously talented singers, hand-picked during an annual talent search. We choose these people every autumn, then we put together a performance season tailored to their profiles, and...

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The Voice and La Voce

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2012 | 10:40 AM

It's just 3 weeks until I sit in a chair and wait for a different person to sing to me every 10 minutes. All day. For the better part of a month. In 8 different states. And although my chair will be facing forward the whole time, I'm spending this...

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Talent Search, Opera Style

(1) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 3:05 PM

For a month this fall, I will crisscross the country with two colleagues, spending weeks in windowless rooms, with a new singer coming in the door every 10 minutes.

No, I am not the newest member of the American Idol panel, but I will be in search of the best...

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Lessons From a Land Hurricane

(1) Comments | Posted July 17, 2012 | 5:00 PM

In October 1787, the premiere of Don Giovanni was postponed twice due to unprepared performers and tough rehearsal scheduling (according to Mozart.)

In July 2012, Wolf Trap Opera's opening of Don Giovanni was postponed twice due to a land hurricane. (It even has a meteorological name: derecho....

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iPads and Panniers

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2012 | 6:00 PM

It's probably unnatural that I look forward to checking my email at about 11:00 p.m. each night. But during this Don Giovanni rehearsal period, that's when our stage manager's daily rehearsal notes pop into my inbox.

I started my opera life as a pianist, and the rehearsal room is the...

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Opera Shortstop

(2) Comments | Posted June 11, 2012 | 12:48 PM

I seem to learn difficult things quickly and simple things slowly. It's taken me a long time to realize that one of the best strategies for coping with the busy summer season is to be sure that I get off the mental treadmill for at least an hour a day....

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Into the Mouth of the Wolf

(0) Comments | Posted May 31, 2012 | 3:01 PM

Your mission, should you decide to accept it:

Memorize a 2,000-word speech, some of it monologue and some of it dialogue.

Deliver most of it according to someone else's requirements of speed and inflection, some of which change on the fly.

Perform it while moving around a large area on...

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Context Is Everything

(0) Comments | Posted May 25, 2012 | 5:38 PM

This post about the ways in which Mozart's Don Giovanni was received at its premieres was sketched out and ready to go when Tuesday's news of the kerfuffle between the Metropolitan Opera and the trade mag Opera News broke out.

Music criticism has been...

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Casanova and Giovanni

(2) Comments | Posted May 16, 2012 | 9:57 AM

Casanova: The name is synonymous with "womanizer."

Giacomo Casanova was a friend and colleague of Lorenzo da Ponte, the man who wrote the words to Mozart's Don Giovanni. Casanova and da Ponte had much in common, including a particular brand of masculine arrogance and the love of the pursuit of...

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Two Sides of the Same Coin?

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2012 | 1:34 PM

It started as a practical solution to a casting problem.

We had two perfect Don Giovannis and two ideal Leporellos. (Or would that be Leporelli?) And they were both embodied by the same two guys. So we did what any sane and fair-minded casting company would do: give both gentlemen...

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The Don Juan Mirror

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2012 | 12:48 PM

It seems that when we look at Giovanni, what we see are our own cultural obsessions peering back at us.

The essence of the story is pretty simple: A powerful and charismatic man sleeps his way across Europe and thumbs his nose at man and God. But every different society...

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