On Wednesday night at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, Vocal Arts D.C. presented an old-fashioned recital by a journeyman singer. It was completely pleasant and completely unspectacular.
Vinson Cole, the tenor who performed, has been hovering around the upper echelons of the opera world for most of a long career. At 62, his youthful demeanor has been offset by the encroachment of white hair, and he took the stage with the mien, and the velvet-dressing-gown-like jacket, of an elder statesman.
Cole’s program biography was one of those curiously opaque documents that informs you he’s sung with most of the big conductors in the classical world without letting you know much about the shape of his career or what he’s doing now. It omitted any mention of teaching, which he has been doing for some time now (he’s at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the University of Missouri at Kansas City). There’s no shame in teaching, particularly in your seventh decade; indeed, I’d argue that it keeps a singer in touch with his vocal equipment. Cole’s program was marked by a canny marshaling of his resources; he may no longer have the ringing top notes he had 30 years ago, but he knew how to work with what he had.