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, June 29, 2013


Benjamin Bloomfield, Tito Capobianco, Yuriy Yurchuk
Master classes generally offer the student something of value from the master teacher's experience.  The student may very well recall who taught them what, if it was of value.  But for the observer, all the acquired wisdom seems collective.  Yesterday was different.  Tito Capobianco's hands-on way of teaching was likely unforgettable to everyone who witnessed the transformative nature of his teaching style.

He opened, in true Socratic fashion, getting students to understand the importance of self-awareness, gained only by looking within--not from any formula.  He defined acting as...lying (what we would call pretending)-- being someone else.  He urged the student to develop their imagination, to know the language, to understand that spontaneity comes from motivation and conviction.

This "hands-on" director led each student by physically moving their arms, legs and head while they were singing.  Maria Fernanda Brea became even more believable as Adina when Mr. C. guided her into the demonstration of overcoming shyness.  Stephen K. Foster as Dulcamara was shown how to make his gestures and phrasing more persuasive as he was peddling his nostrums.  Smitha Johnson's portrayal of Antonia was deepened as she wavered between her state of bliss from playing the piano to the sadness of reality.  Yuriy Yurchuk was shown how to make his Dr. Miracle truly frightening to Joseph Brent's Hoffmann and Benjamin Bloomfield's Crespel.  Kirsten Scott was coached how to handle the violin in Nicklaus' violin aria, how to present the instrument to Hoffmann.

But the most stunning piece of coaching was for Javier Bernardo's Nemorino.  "Una furtiva lagrima" is a "stand-and-deliver" piece.  Who would expect him to sing it curled up in fetal position?  Who wouldn't be shocked to hear him sing it with the stored-up anger from Adina's prior rejection?  And yet.  And yet.  We interviewed Mr. Bernardo after the class and he reported that his voice seemed freer than ever before and he felt better able to express the many nuances of Nemorino's emotional state at that moment.

Readers!  The proof of the pudding is in the performance and, having heard both casts over the past month, we can only urge you to catch as many performances as possible to hear as many of these gifted young artists as possible.  Performances will take place at Hunter College with Les Contes d'Hoffmann on 7/11 and 7/13 at 7:30PM and L'Elisir d'Amore on 7/12 at 7:30 and 7/14 at 2PM.  The performances are fully staged, elegantly costumed, and presented in the original languages (French and Italian respectively) with subtitles.  Let's not forget the orchestra and chorus!  Come to honor the great Martina Arroyo.  Come to give yourself a summer treat.  Satisfaction guaranteed!

© meche kroop

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