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

Monday, June 24, 2013


Maestro Parodi and cast of L'incoronazione di Poppea
In the prologue to Monteverdi's final work, the prim Virtue (Leeanne Kaufman) and the slatternly Fortuna (Jessica Adkins) argue about which one is the stronger in affecting human behavior.  But it is Amore (Rebecca Wood) who laughs last, although Cupid seems to be more supportive of lust than love. Giovanni Francesco Busenello's libretto has taken literary liberties with history.

The dissolute emperor Nerone (Rahim Mandal) wants to rid himself of his wife Ottavia (Abigail Shapiro) so he can marry the sexy Poppea (Margaret Newcomb).  Ottone (Isaac Assor) the rejected suitor of Poppea is enlisted by Ottavia to murder her, disguising himself in the clothes of his servant Drusilla (Teresa Castillo) who would do anything to gain his love, including taking the rap for him.  Since great liberties were taken with history, Nerone's character has been softened and he graciously allows the perpetrators and his cast-off wife to live in exile.  Are we having fun yet?  Oh, yes, we certainly are!

Premiered in Venice in 1643, the work is relevant today even without contemporary attire; we are still plagued by cheating rulers and ambitious mistresses.  In fact, this opera represents a major moral departure from the standard of wrong-doers being punished. How refreshing!  How cynical!

Isabel Milenski has directed the students of the Manhattan Summer Voice Festival at Manhattan School of Music with a sure hand, keeping the action moving and the arias motivated.  It is difficult to believe that the singers are students; each and every role was beautifully sung and convincingly acted.  Comic relief was provided mostly by Drusilla and the fanciful costumes of the gods.  Amore had red feathered wings, Pallade had helmet and breastplate, Virtue looked like a 1950's church-goer and Fortuna, swilling from a bottle, was decked out in sequins.  Poppea's nurse Arnalta (Jillian Wiley) had fun toward the end when she lords her newly exalted position over the other servant Nuttrice (Ms. Kaufman)--Ottavia's nurse.  Elizabeth Barrett Groth was Costume Designer.

Musical values were splendid in every respect as Maestro Jorge Parodi conducted the Dorian Baroque Orchestra.  Our fascination with the theorbo continues and Kevin Payne's duet with cellist Margalit Cantor just about knocked our socks off.  There is much scholarly argument about whether Monteverdi wrote the entire opera or whether he had ample assistance from students and younger colleagues.  In any event, the music is gorgeously melodic and the young singers did it justice as did the musicians.  Duets were especially lovely as voices blended in perfect harmony.  We particularly enjoyed the love duets between Poppea and Nerone, and the duet between Nerone and the poet Lucano (John Ford) taking place at the baths.  Let it be said that the towels did not slip and there was no wardrobe malfunction Sunday night.  We make no promises for future performances Tuesday and next weekend!

As a stand alone aria, one could not ask for a better one than Ottavia's lament in Act I, describing the plight of women.  We long to hear it again.  In the relatively small role of a soldier (here an FBI-type bodyguard) Michael Papincak evinced an instrument of distinction.  We yearn to hear more of him.

The set design by Jian Jung was simple but effective--no more than a few architectural elements that served as bed, bath, table, whatever--and some columns.  Nothing distracted from the superb music and singing.

The Manhattan Summer Voice Festival seems to have attracted some highly talented young performers and molded them into a splendid ensemble in a few short weeks.  Bravi tutti!

© meche kroop

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Curtain Call at Manhattan School of Music
Some impressive young performers led us into the woods and out again in a thoroughly delightful performance of Stephen Sondheim's 1986 musical Into the Woods.  The performance is part of Manhattan School of Music's Summer Voice Festival.  Is it possible that this cast, in only six weeks, put together an evening that rivals the original performance on Broadway and the one produced by Shakespeare in the Park last summer?  It is!  In place of famous stars we had fresh young voices; in place of lavish scenery and costumes we had giant helpings of imagination.  Much credit goes to Director Bill Fabris and to Musical Director Dan Gettinger who accompanied on the piano, augmented by a fine string quartet and a percussionist, in an arrangement that permitted the voices to be heard without deafening amplification; anyone who visits here regularly knows how we feel about that curse.

The work itself is a mashup of the fairy tales we all heard as children, with all their terrifying elements intact-- and some added by James Lapine in his highly original book.  These characters have all-too-human qualities and therefore we can identify and accept their philosophical life lessons.  Everyone wishes for something; but those that get their wishes in Act I are dissatisfied in Act II.  Everyone must deal with risk, with disappointment, with loss, with failure to accept responsibility, with egregious misjudgments and the lessons learned thereby.

All of the performances were admirable but a few were outstanding.  We were struck by Cameron Johnson's Wolf who went from seductive to frightening at the drop of a hat.  We were totally won over by Elora Ledger's Cinderella; her voice is beautifully affecting and her acting convincing.  Likewise The Baker's Wife, portrayed by Lieke van den Brock, who must fight to win parity with the Baker (a fine Andy Zimmerman).

McKenzie Custin garnered many laughs as the not-so-innocent Little Red Riding Hood and Kendrick Pifer excelled as the Witch who undergoes quite a transformation.  Jack (Jody Hinkley) played the dolt to the exasperation of his mother (Rachel Sandler).  Cinderella's Stepmother (Amanda Levy) had some fine moments with the two Stepsisters (Allison Crain and Alex Cummings).  Cinderella's deceased mother was beautifully sung by Kyle McCormick and Perry Lines was fine as Rapunzel.

In an intimate space without electronic interference, we in the audience could tell who was speaking/singing and actually understand the clever words.  Only the narrator could not be well understood all the time.

The set was simple: three wooden panels on wheels, painted to represent the woods on one side, and on the other sides, Cinderella's hearth, Jack's house, and the Baker's kitchen.  Everyone wore variations on pajamas and robes which, strangely enough, worked really well.  Sandy Siu is credited with Costume Coordination.

We hear that a film of the show has been cast with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp.  But we don't advise you to wait!  The performance at MSM will be repeated Monday and Thursday at 7:30 and again next Saturday at 2:30.  We don't think there is another show in town that will entertain you as royally!

© meche kroop

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Richard Leech surrounded by Prelude to Performance singers
The major excitement of this week's Prelude to Performance Masterclass was witnessing some remarkable growth in the singers we heard a week ago and then observing even further growth based on the instruction by master teacher and renowned tenor Richard Leech. Mr. Leech's major point was the importance of communication with the audience; with that point we could not agree more.  He began by urging the students to build their craft to the level that they know their voice, know the role, and then to "just do it" by trusting that the voice will respond when the singer has something to say.

He quoted Kirsten Flagstad: "Singing is just speaking on pitch".  He further quoted his own voice teacher who told him to "be adequate" with adequacy being defined as fulfilling the task at hand.  Do the necessary work and then just set it aside!

Then Mr. Leech got down to the nitty-gritty with each student.  Over and over again he made the point of the importance of the words and counseled the students to give each vowel and consonant its full measure, especially in the recitatives.  He wanted each student to include the members of the audience and to let them into his/her inner thoughts.  The thought should precede the phrase that is sung.

Tenor James Knight sang "Una parola, o Adina" from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore with the excellent Maggie Sczekan.  The instruction to have him stop briefly and change the color between his calling out to her and the more internal aspect of speaking her name with great feeling worked wonders.

Tenor Javier Bernardo, so fine last week, had managed to incorporate Mr. Owens' lesson to great advantage and this week was instructed to establish a chain of little moments with frequent breaths in between; each moment must have a specific meaning.

Ignacio Gama, singing Dulcamara, was told that the bass is the heartbeat of a duet (or trio, or quartet) and must establish a strong rhythm.  The clarity of his character was emphasized.  When James Knight (who dropped the "Edgar"?) sang "Una furtiva lagrima", he was taught to let the audience into his private thoughts; this really made a difference!  Major WOW factor!

Halfway through the class, the performance of  Les Contes d'Hoffman was addressed.  We were impressed by the growth of tenor Won Whi Choi who gave a riveting interpretation of "Kleinzach", having been instructed to engage the audience and to think more about communicating than about making pretty sounds.  In this aria, rhythm is important in the storytelling.  Later, the tenor brilliantly sang a duet ("Malheureux, tu ne comprends donc pas") with silvery-voiced Tamara Rusqué who was advised to exaggerate the commas in order to separate Giulietta's thoughts.

In the duet "C'est une chanson d'amour", sung by tenor Joseph Brent as Hoffmann and soprano Janani Sridha as Antonia, Mr. Leech explained that in an extended duet such as this one, both singers must stay committed and remain in the same physical posture for a longer than average time.

It is enormously gratifying to hear each singer improve over such a short period of time.  Each master teacher has something different to offer.  We are eagerly anticipating next Wednesday's master class with Ken Benson who always makes valuable contributions.  The final master class will be given by Tito Capobianco on Friday 6/28, also at 6PM.  If you love singing, if you love singers, if you love learning--you should be there.  Furthermore, there will be a free taste from this lavish buffet table on Saturday at 3PM in Lang Hall of Hunter College.  And finally, you would be well advised to save the weekend of July 11th.  Both operas will have two performances with two different casts.  We are sufficiently impressed by the talent to want to hear both casts.

© meche kroop

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Rebecca Greenstein, Executive Director of Opera Moderne, wears many hats and last night, as hostess of The Bohemian Bash, she also wore so many costumes that we lost count.  If you have never met this amazing lady, allow us to introduce her.  She hails from Texas and has degrees in music and vocal performance.  She sings and dances and emcees just for starters, and does them all with special flair.

Last night she put together a fund-raiser in honor of Andreas Stadler, Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, where we have heard and reviewed some pretty impressive lieder recitals (one coming up next Tuesday, don't say we didn't alert you).  Ms. Greenstein does nothing by halves; the evening had such a variety of entertainment that no one could have left unsatisfied.

The champagne flowed and was heralded by Verdi's "Libiamo" from La Traviata.  If that was too serious for you (LOL) there were excerpts from Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus.  Attendees were given the opportunity to bid on arias and duets of their choice; if you figured out that Ms. Greenstein was tapped to sing "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi you were right on the money.  Much of the accompanying was performed by Pacien Mazzagatti.

Should you prefer the terpsichorean arts to opera, you would have enjoyed the world premiere of New Chamber Ballet's choreographer Miro Magloire (who cut quite a rug himself at the after-party); entitled "Metamorphose", the piece was danced by Kristin Draucker accompanied by Emily DiAngelo on oboe.  If folk dancing were more your taste, there was some lively Czardas and a performance of "Vilia".  Ballroom dancing?  You probably loved the five couples waltzing to "The Blue Danube".  Tappers?  Oh yes, that too.  Just look at Sugar Foot Mafia Dance Company.  And just look at those Hot Box Girls!  Wait, there's Ms. Greenstein again!

New music and classical, it was all there like a bounteous buffet, from Mozart to Berio.  And jazz too!  Franz Hackl Jazz Quartet made quite an impression.  And burlesque!  Right down to the pasties.  Did we forget anything?  Oh yes, dancing at the after party--Jessie Bunting and the Hot Shim Sham Orchestra.  Six solid hours of fun at the Czech Center.  We wish we had space to mention all the talented folk who contributed to this amazing evening of entertainment.  We just want to know who lit the fire under Ms. Greenstein.  And if that sounds like the title of a song, she's probably writing it by now.

© meche kroop

Saturday, June 15, 2013


We don't know what to call it but we loved it and you will too if you can get yourself to Christ and St. Stephen's Church by 3PM tomorrow.  Reading about American history always seemed tedious to us but last night in A Distant Love the history achieved dramatic and musical life that brought tears to our eyes as we considered the sacrifices made by our "founding fathers".  We are only a couple short weeks away from Independence Day and this production is most timely.

The first act--John Adams in Amsterdam: a Song for Abigail--gave stellar baritone Peter Kendall Clark (barely recognizable without his beard) an opportunity to use his sizable round instrument to express the various emotions experienced by the statesman who would become the second president of the USA.  He was not very enchanted with the French but grew increasingly delighted with the Dutch, having been sent there as ambassador and raiser of funds for the struggle for independence.  He writes to his wife (my "dearest friend") and describes his ever-growing reputation in Holland as well as his longing for home and family.  He warmly describes the Dutch as learned, artistic and hard-working with a penchant for skating and mushrooming.  He sorely misses his family and expresses his longing for home and family as well as his fear of isolation from the prospect of being a man of importance on the world's stage.  Ha!

The second act--Abigail in the Colonies: a Song for John--permitted soprano Victoria Tralongo to create a character any woman could identify with.  She is a courageous woman, a feminist and an abolitionist who wants the same freedom for slaves as the colonists are demanding from Great Britain.  But she is still a woman and yearns for "sentimental effusions of the heart" from her husband, enduring a decade of separation with love and fidelity.  If there is one song in the work that best stands alone as a concert aria it would be "Loneliness".  We wish to quote the moving first line: "If you should lie awake and call my name".  There is also a slightly more lighthearted song, lighthearted yet serious in its description of the effect of war on the women left behind--scarcity of food and medicine, inflated prices, the presence of the enemy, illness and death--but above all, a need for PINS!  The stalwart Mrs. Adams wants Mr. Adams to send her lots of pins that she can sell in the colony.

Terry Quinn was responsible for developing the libretto from the actual letters in the historical archive and Gary S. Fagin wrote the music.  Our regular readers likely know how unimpressed we are by contemporary writing; so our praise for this score is doubly remarkable.  The string quartet was an excellent choice for this lyrical and evocative music; string quartets were popular during the latter part of the 18th c.  Mr. Fagin's music held our attention throughout; it had a martial flavor when war was discussed and a decidedly romantic flavor during the recitations of longing.  It was always singable.

Guest conductor of the Chelsea Opera String Quartet was the renowned conductor Jorge Parodi; musicians were violinists Garry Ianco and Bruno Peña, violist Cait O'Brien and cellist Jameson Platte.  Maestro Parodi's affection for the score was evident in his expressive conducting.

The work was given an effective staging and costuming by co-producer Lynne Hayden-Findlay; she wisely kept the singer (and letter writer) in the foreground with just enough movement to illustrate the text and the recipient of the letters in the background going about their daily routine.  The two singers, clearly chosen for their splendid voices, were bewigged by Andrea Calabrese and appeared totally convincing.  We especially loved watching Abigail performing her chores, embroidering and baking bread.  The set by Leonarda Priore was simple but worked well--a writing desk, a table and chair, a coat rack, a quill pen and other similar accoutrements of 18th c. life.

The nine-year old Chelsea Opera, founded by Ms. Priore and Ms. Hayden-Findlay, has a lot of wonderful productions in store for next year but don't wait.  Enjoy this splendid event TODAY!

© meche kroop

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Eric Owens and Martina Arroyo
The coaching provided to the fortunate young singers chosen for Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance Program is always of incomparable value.  Yesterday's masterclass was masterfully given by bass-baritone Eric Owens.  He has always impressed us with his glorious singing and convincing acting; but this stage animal has another side which we were thrilled to discover.  Mr. Owens is an astute but gentle teacher with amazing diagnostic skills, able to pinpoint exactly what each student in the class needed to take him/her to the next level, and then to convey the information with vast humor and support.

The two operas to be presented in July are Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore and Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann.  Baritone Carlos Saenz began with Belcore's aria; he nailed the arrogance of the character and had some fine low notes but seemed to us to be putting too much effort into his performance.  We loved the way Mr. Owens got him to ease up and sing more naturally and were thrilled by the result.  Mr. Saenz was a most receptive student and was able to retain the characterization while being less aggressive in his approach.

Tenor James Edgar Knight made a fine Nemorino and profited by the suggestion to maintain the accented syllable even when it falls on the low note right before a jump upward on the scale.  He was also instructed not to "telegraph" about Adina and Belcore's interaction but to make his part of the trio be about HIS character.  In this trio, Maggie Sczekan made a winning Adina and Jorell Williams needed only to maintain the legato feeling over the rests so that each phrase maintained the same color.

In "Una parola o Adina" Javier Bernardo was convincing and moving in his portrayal with Yunnie Park as his fine Adina.  The coaching centered on keeping the intention right through the rests, in order to bridge the divide between phrases, and on lining up the vowels.

Switching to French for the second half was a whole 'nother thing but much of the instruction was similar, except that French is sung very forward in the mouth.  Bass-baritone Eui Jin Kim made a fine villainous Lindorf but even villains must sing through and establish vibrato on each and every note.  Mr. Owens helped Mr. Kim to ground himself on the high notes.  A brief exercise of singing only the vowels helps to line them up.

A very funny rendering of "Kleinzach" was offered by tenor Joseph Michael Brent who was instructed to balance his stunning squillo with some earthiness and support.  The singer needs to let go, to guide the voice but not over-control it.  Similar instruction was given to tenor Blaise Pascal and bass-baritone Yuriy Yurchuk in their duet.

The session closed with luscious-voiced Lenora Green singing Antonia to Won Whi Choi's Hoffmann who sounded even better after he was coached to take his time and maintain more consistency in his legato.  Mr. Owens emphasized the importance of consistency and commitment at the close of the class.  It was remarkable to hear how much each singer profited by the instruction. 

We were not able to get the casting list for July's performances but, after hearing everyone sing, we decided we will be happy no matter whom we hear since all singers were topnotch.  We urge you to set aside time to attend as many performances as possible the weekend of July 11th.  You won't be disappointed!  We further urge anyone who sings or loves singing to attend the two subsequent masterclasses at Hunter College, Wednesdays at 6PM.

© meche kroop

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Is it sacrilege to say that Sir Kenneth MacMillan's ballet tells the story of Romeo and Juliet as eloquently as Shakespeare's verse?  It is more difficult to find mature and gifted actors who can act and sound like teenagers than it is to find ballet dancers who can convince us.  There is not a wasted scene in this 1965 three-act ballet created for the Royal Ballet in 1965 and introduced to American Ballet Theatre two decades later.

The sets and costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis recreate the world of Renaissance Verona in a most believable fashion, in spite of the absence of the Arena of our memory.  Everything evokes a Renaissance painting with burnt sienna, burnt umber and ochre being the main colors.  As regular readers will have noticed, we adore verisimilitude.  We felt transported to another time and place, much as we did at the Metropolitan Opera's magnificent production of Wagner's Die Meistersinger.

Prokofiev's score comprises set pieces for each scene, moving from lyrical adagios for the romantic duets to lively allegro music for the street scenes with an ominous foreboding theme to illuminate the strands of the tragedy.  Charles Barker did an exemplary job of conducting.  The woodwinds were particularly remarkable.

The ABT dancers did a superlative job of assuming the attitudes of the citizens of Verona.  There were aristocrats with their arrogance and their finery, members of a wedding party, some pretty randy "painted ladies", a crippled beggar, and some regular townfolk reacting to the events in the plaza.  In spite of the categories, each member of the corp seemed to have his/her own distinguishable personality.  This Verona is not a happy place.  Gangs of young men are too quick to draw their swords and the death rate soars.  Likewise the women of the town scorn the "painted ladies" who retaliate with their own provocation.   It is well to remember that such realismo was new in 1965.  Sir Kenneth is said to have been inspired by John Cranko's choreography of R&J but he was no copycat.

As Juliet, Diana Vishneva created a headstrong adolescent still playing with dolls in Act I but maturing considerably by the end of the ballet.  Not only was she at the peak of her form-- dazzling with her footwork, elegant with her port de bras-- but also most persuasive with her acting.  Her supple spine lent great pathos to her death pose and equally great vulnerability to the lifts.

Marcelo Gomes overcame his manly handsomeness with enough acting skill to convince us that he was a teenager in the throes of first love, as he switched his attention from Rosaline to Juliet.  His dancing has always been remarkable in terms of technique, partnering skills and musicality; his acting skills have grown enormously.  His chemistry with Ms. Vishneva was unmistakeable.

As Mercutio, Craig Salstein danced his heart out; the sword fight with Tybalt (a suitably nasty Sascha Radetsky) was frighteningly convincing and brought to mind last week's Salon/Sanctuary program illustrating the common background of ballet and sword-fighting.  (See review).  Romeo's other friend Benvolio was danced by the fleet-footed Daniil Simkin.  Susan Jones provided comic relief as Juliet's nurse.  The three "painted ladies" were danced y Luciana Paris, Simone Messmer and Kristi Boone.

We could easily say that the saddest scene we have seen all year was Romeo trying to dance with a deathly limp Juliet.  The only thing that would be more heart-breaking would be if ABT decided to "modernize" this perfectly perfect production.

© meche kroop

Thursday, June 6, 2013


            Salon /Sanctuary Event-- photo by Dalibor Plavsic

Salon/Sanctuary concerts never disappoint; they offer their entertainment with a generous serving of illumination.  Monday night's event entitled "On Point" was a case in point.  Several interesting points were made about the common origins of sword fighting and ballet dancing, the latter one of our favorite art forms, the former a revelation.  You take some of the stances and lunges of sword fighting and meld them with 17th c. court dance and--voila!--the birth of ballet.

Stage Director and Fight Choreographer Erica Gould, sister of Founder and Artistic Director Jessica Gould, made sure that the audience left with a clear picture of how this evolved.  In an exemplary show of scholarship, engravings from the 17th c. were studied to replicate the stances of sword fighting, illustrated by sword fighters Jacqueline Ann Holloway and Robert Westley.  Analogous ballet moves were illustrated by two ballet dancers from New York City Ballet--the lovely long-limbed Megan LeCrone, partnered to perfection by Jared Angle.  The two pairs danced side by side and comparisons were easily made.

The music chosen was likewise from the 17th c. and was played with grace and gusto by members of The Sebastians Chamber Orchestra.  The first half of the program comprised works by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, G. F. Händel and Antonio Vivaldi.  In Schmelzer's Balletto for Strings and Continuo in G, the string quartet (Daniel S. Lee and Beth Wenstrom on violins, Katie Hyun on viola, and Hannah Collins on cello) played with clarity, augmented by Charlie Weaver on the baroque guitar playing the continuo part.  The name of this piece is "Die Fechtschule" (the fencing school); the alternation of spirited and frisky allegro sections and stately lyrical adagio sections provided a great deal of variety.

The most interesting part of the Händel Sonata in B-flat  was Mr. Weaver's playing of the theorbo, as long in neck as a giraffe.  Vivaldi's Trio Sonata in D minor "La Follia" opened in waltz time with a mournful melody that gave way to no small degree of frenzy with lots of syncopation and challenging embellishments.

But it was the second part of the program described above which captured our imagination.  The dancing and sword-fighting were performed to Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber's Battalia a 10 in D major, a radical piece of writing with harmonies way ahead of their time.  At one point, different meters and keys were played simultaneously, a challenging task for the musicians who rose to the occasion.  It was here that we observed the intense eye contact between both members of each couple and the compelling mirroring between the two couples. 

The effectiveness of the illumination was our subsequent ability to watch ballet and see many of the moves in a new light. May we propose a good look at Maria Kowroski dancing "Red Angels" on Youtube?  Much gratitude was felt to Salon/Sanctuary for this new insight.

© meche kroop