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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Tobias Greenhalgh and Steven Blier
"Imagine" is the name of the John Lennon song that baritone Tobias Greenhalgh chose as an encore to his Masters of Music graduation recital yesterday--in a duet with his brother John and with the beloved Steven Blier at the piano.  Now here is something to imagine:  several rows of high school students on a long day trip from Massachusetts, sitting in rapt attention during the entire recital and joining the rest of us in a prolonged standing ovation at the end.

Now, to understand why the attention was so rapt, we must begin at the beginning when Mr. Greenhalgh opened with selections from Schubert's Winterreise.  This work is always good to hear, but in the right hands (and heart) it becomes astonishing in its ability to move us.  J.J. Penna provided the hands at the piano and did not miss a nuance.  Indeed we heard things we'd never noticed before, including the heartbeat of the hero and the cries of the crow.  The heart of course is that of the singer and it was evident that Mr. G. reached deep within to pull up and wring the juice out of every emotion in the songs.  His alienation, his self-pity, his nostalgia, his illusory dreams, his false hopes, his attempts to put on a happy face--all these were plumbed by this gifted young artist.  His technique was superb but went unnoticed as it was used to serve the music and the text. At a certain point, we just take the phrasing, the diction, the control of dynamics and the musicality for granted.

Accompanied by Mr. Blier, Mr. G. did just fine in Norwegian, French, Italian and Spanish in the second half of the program with some selections by Grieg, Debussy, Respighi and Gardel.  But it was in Billy Bigelow's Soliloquy from Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Carousel that Mr. G. truly distinguished himself.  He made sense of every emotion a prospective father might feel.  At the end of the recital we were left eager to hear Mr. G. perform the entire Winterreise and also wanting to hear him do more Broadway type music.  We sense the influence here of Mr. Blier!  In our opinion, it's all opera if it's good.

© meche kroop

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