I've seen Pink Martini perform a couple of times in the past, including one previous time with the NSO Pops. They're a big enough group to start with, but having a full orchestra backing them up does add even more richness to the sound. This show was a bit different since China Forbes strained her voice and was unable to perform. Storm Large substituted for her. She did okay, but she seemed to have a lot of trouble deciding what to do with arms, so did not look entirely comfortable on stage. Of course, learning 10 songs in 5 languages in a little over a week would make most singers somewhat uncomfortable. (The languages were English, French, Spanish, Croatian, and Turkish in case you wondered. In the case of the Turkish song, they invited all the Turks in the audience to come up on stage and join the band for "Uskudara Gideriken." This being Washington, they got 11 folks up there.)
The other guest singer was NPR White House correspondent Ari Shapiro. He turns out to have a fine voice and a lot of stage presence. Thomas Lauderdale introduced a duet of "And Then You're Gone" (sung by Storm) and "But Now I'm Back" (sung by Ari) as "an Afro-Cuban, 'I Will Survive," Schubert kind of thing" and I have to say that the number made me like Schubert more than I normally would. There is, by the way, a video of Ari's debut performance of this song so you can get a taste. You can also see that, as Storm said, he looks like the plastic groom doll on top of a wedding cake. Ah, if I were only 20 years younger ...
All in all, despite China's absence, it was a very enjoyable show. And, of course, I ended up with "Sympathique" stuck in my head for the next few days. (I knew that was going to happen.)
I should also mention that this was the debut here for Steven Reineke, who will replace Marvin Hamlisch as the NSO Principal Pops conductor beginning in the 2011-2012 season. He looked to be having a lot of fun, which is a good sign. He also looks amazingly young, by the way. I suspect that's a sign of my advancing age, along with how young doctors, cops and so on look these days. (I just googled and he's 41, so not quite a child, but I still think orchestra conductors should look like distinguished old men.)