Still a senior at Mannes College of Music, Courtney Johnson has a sizable instrument with a great vibrato and sang two of Liu's arias from Puccini's Turandot with deep feeling. We see a fine future for her in Puccini territory.
Tobias Greenhalgh, a graduate student at Juilliard, treated the audience to "Bella siccome un angelo" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale, sung with charm, total commitment to the character and a lovely easy sound; he followed up with a Rachmaninoff song in which, unfortunately, the piano tended to drown him out in places. We can scarcely wait for his graduation recital on April 12th at 4PM, having watched his consistent artistic growth at Juilliard.
Bass-baritone Sean Sullivan, still an undergraduate at Mannes College, showed off his acting chops (and a fine voice) in Papageno's "suicide aria" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and then Ravel's "Chanson a Boire" from Don Quichotte. Mr. Sullivan is a real stage animal and very funny.
Gounod was Emmett O'Hanlon's choice: "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Faust and then Mercutio's aria from Roméo et Juliette. His voice is a bit darker than the other two baritones; the tone is lovely and he would do well not to push. We have heard him a few times at Juilliard and have always enjoyed his singing.
Michael Fennelly accompanied. All four singers had won Encouragement Grants from Opera Index, along with Jonathan Beyer, Sarah Mesko, and Nickoli Strommer. Since 1984 Opera Index, Inc. has run an excellent competition and made generous awards to a legion of opera singers who have gone on to remarkable careers. We wish the same to tonight's four artists. Four cheers! One for each.
© meche kroop