|Miles Mykkanen, Djordje Nesic, Markus Beam, Inna Dukach, Jennifer Rivera
It was in this performance hall that we enjoyed a diverse program of song last night, performed by four gifted singers and one collaborative pianist Djordje Nesic who served them all well. Versatile tenor Miles Mykkanen always makes a stunning program opener and last night was no exception. He's a great opener because he gets the audience's rapt attention with his intense commitment to the material and a slightly quirky sense of humor. He chose John Musto's "It's just as I imagined" in which Mark Campbell's lyrics tell us exactly why it is so wonderful to be in New York where "You simply can't be stranger than anyone else". That really nailed it! Later in the program he sang "Something's coming" from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story and captured every ounce of excitement, with a magnificent crescendo at the end.
Bringing down the house with her smashing voice and original embellishments, mezzo Jennifer Rivera put as much of herself into "Una voce poco fa" (from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia) as she must have done when she made her debut as Rosina at the Berlin Staatsoper. We have missed this New York City Opera star while she was wowing Europe and were thrilled to have the opportunity to hear her again. On a gentler note, she performed "Oh...It's joy, isn't it?" from Robert Aldridge's Elmer Gantry; her sincerity reflected the song's spirituality.
Baritone Markus Beam has a nice round sound with a pleasing vibrato; he ranged from solemn in "O du mein holder Abendstern" from Wagner's Tannhäuser to joyful in Gilbert and Sullivan's "I am the Pirate King" from The Pirates of Penzance. No one has ever done as much for English opera as G&S and Mr. Beam did justice to this very ironic song.
Soprano Inna Dukach has an exciting and penetrating sound; she scored with "Depuis le jour" from Charpentier's Louise. She abandoned herself to the joy of Charpentier's lyrics but kept in full control of a stunning messa di voce. On a livelier note she performed the "Czardas" from Die Fledermaus.
The evening comprised more than solos; Mr. Mykkanen and Mr. Beam performed "Au fond du temple saint" from Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles, of which we never tire. When they sang "Elle est fuit" Mr. B. conveyed the feeling of loss while Mr. M. seemed to hold out some hope. It was an interesting contrast.
"Soave sia il vento" from Mozart's Così fan Tutte gave soprano, mezzo and baritone an opportunity to blend their voices in stunning harmony; collaborative pianist Djordje Nesic got an opportunity to create all kinds of interesting ripples in the piano. The ensemble of four closed the program with the "Brindisi" from Verdi's La Traviata, setting up the audience for the glasses of bubbly waiting for them in the foyer. But not before an encore of "New York, New York" by Kander and Ebb.
We look forward to more thrilling evenings of song at Opera America. This is what makes New York New York!
© meche kroop