Perfect Pitch: Italian Grandeur

by patrickmccoy

The Wolf Trap Ball was the place to be as Filene Center’s stage was transformed into Italy. 

By Patrick D. McCoy


His Excellency, The Ambassador of Italy Claudio Bisognierno (center) and his wife Laura Denise were the honorary chairs of the 2015 Wolf Trap Ball. (Photo:  Courtesy of Wolf Trap)

The Wolf Trap Ball is one of the hottest tickets in town every fall. Though it marks the end of a successful summer season of concerts at the nation’s only national park devoted solely to the performing arts, it still serves as a pivotal point to the beginning of the busy Washington gala season. The ball kicked off the season with a record breaking $1.2 million.

Every year there is a sweeping theme to the ball and this year was no exception as the Filene Stage was transformed into the splendor of Italy.  Replicas of historic architectural wonders and living Roman statues allowed the attendees to the opulence of the Italian culture.  It was such an appropriate choice as the celebratory evening was marked by fine wines and of course, opera. Wolf Trap Alumni soprano Alyson Cambridge and tenor Robert Watson performed a trefoil of Puccini favorites accompanied by the Inscape Chamber Orchestra with pianist Josephine Riggs. Adding much to the event was the presence of His Excellency, the Ambassador of Italy Claudio Bisogniero and his wife Laura Denise Bisogniero. Both are serious patrons of the arts and we have been spotted on numerous occasions at arts events in the city, including concerts performed by The Folger Consort and The Washington Chorus.


Wolf Trap Alumni soprano Alyson Cambridge and tenor Robert Watson performed a bouquet of Puccini arias and duets. (Photo courtesy Wolf Trap)

“Laura Denise and I are delighted to be here, as honorary hosts, to contribute to an institution which is very dear to us,” said Amb. Bisogniero in his remarks, telling guests that “by being here tonight, each of you is contributing to Wolf Trap’s ongoing success. You are shaping the music lovers – and performers – of tomorrow. For a cultural powerhouse such as Italy, culture and the arts are part of our everyday life; we couldn’t ever contemplate doing without them. So, what Wolf Trap does to enable the widest possible access to arts and culture, now and down the line, is pivotal, and we regard it very highly.”

Wolf Trap board chairman Daniel D’Aniello expressed his appreciation to the guests for their continued support of the center’s arts programming and informed them that under the leadership of Arvind Manocha, Wolf Trap’s membership has grown to an all-time high.

Soprano Alyson Cambridge is a proud alumna of the prestigious Wolf Trap Opera program which has flourished under the impressive leadership of Kim Witman. We could not help but also notice Cambridge’s striking resemblance to former Miss America Vanessa Williams.  Laughing at the question she replied “Indeed!  I hear it everyday of my life.”

The evening was complete with the three joys in life:  fine food, music and wine.  Sparkling bellinis and wine flowed, tasty hors d’oeuvres were seemingly bottomless and a dinner fit for royalty topped it all off. But after all of the formality and decorum of a gala night, the music picked up with the soulful music of the band Sound Connection, bow ties unloosened and the mayhem on the dance floor ensued; it’s almost the perfect expression of Wolf Trap’s commitment to access.

After earning degrees in music from Virginia State University and Shenandoah University, Patrick D. McCoy has contributed arts pieces to CBS Washington and The Afro-American Newspaper, among others.  He also writes the magazine’s monthly performing arts column “Perfect Pitch.”  McCoy may be reached via email at and on Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy. 


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