We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Every time I attend a function at Juilliard I come to a new and greater appreciation of its value to the NYC musical scene.  Last night I heard a recital of first year students from the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts.  Students were coached by Matthew Odell and David Moody who accompanied on piano and harpsichord.  To their credit, each student connected well with their material and manifested clear diction.  Although some voices seemed more performance-ready than others, each one was a pleasure to hear.  Judging by the highly enthusiastic and occasionally misplaced applause, one could surmise that the audience comprised lots of family members and friends.  They had much of which to be proud.

Starting with the sopranos, Nicolette Mavroleon sang Purcell’s “Sweeter than Roses” and Liszt’s “Pace non trovo”.  There was a nice contrast between gentleness in the former and agitation in the latter.  Angela Vallone sang “Ah! Spietato” from Handel’s Amadid di Gaula and brought the evening to a rousing close with a charmingly acted piece by Victor Herbert entitled “Art is Calling for Me”, better known as “I want to be a prima donna”.  Eva Gheorghiu lamented heartbreakingly in “Piangero” from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto; later she performed “Monica’s Waltz” from Menotti’s The Medium, demonstrating clearly when Monica was singing what she wanted to hear from Toby and when she was singing her own thoughts.

As for the mezzos, Hannah McDermott sang “Tristezza Crepuscolare” from Santoliquido’s I Canti della Sera and performed Purcell’s “Mad Bess of Bedlam” with disheveled hair and bare feet, which added to the effect.  Kenita Hopper sang Scarlatti’s “Gia il Sole dal Gange” and “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”.  Mary-Elizabeth O’Neill sang Purcell’s “If Music be the Food of Love” and performed Donizetti’s “Il segreto per esser felice” from Lucrezia Borgia with champagne flute in hand.

A trio of tenors included Aaron Mor singing Legrenzi’s “Che Fiero Costume” and Beach’s “I send My Heart Up to Thee”; David Smolokoff singing Handel’s “Tuo drudo e mio rivale” from Rodelinda and Charles’ “And So Goodbye”; and Alexander McKissick singing “Del mio sol vezzosi rai” from Handel’s Ariodante and Korngold’s “Sweet Melody of Night”.

Baritones were noticeably absent!  “They really won’t be missed”.

It will be a special pleasure to watch these young people as they acquire additional poise onstage and supplement their talent with vocal refinements.  We wish them all good luck!

© meche kroop

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