A stirring concert of opera arias and duets was held last night in the recital hall of Opera America, a marvelous facility at 330 Seventh Avenue which provides multiple resources for singers and those that love them.
The hall is acoustically live and the voices were big ones which made the experience compelling for the listener but a bit overwhelming at times. Able accompanist Christopher Wilson moved readily from Wagner to Verdi, from Bellini to Puccini. Such large voices, however, cried out for full orchestra.
Bass-baritone Bryan Davis opened the program with "Die frist is um" from Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer; he created a riveting portrait of the suffering tragic hero with a large powerful sound. We would have wished for a bit of variety in dynamics and color in the central section, perhaps a more tender coloring and less volume. Mr. Davis has performed the entire opera onstage and indeed sang the love duet "Wie aus der ferne" with soprano Anastasia Roytman who was ardent and expressive.
There was more Wagner to come when soprano Amanda Hick sang "Dich teure Halle" from Tannhäuser with a powerful and resonant voice; to round off her fine performance she needed a bit of blending of head and chest voice in the lower register. Later in the program she sang the difficult "In Questa Reggia" from Puccini's Turandot with tenor Byron Singleton singing the part of Calaf.
Mr. Singleton has a sweet tenor that could be improved by keeping his head level. He has a tendency to sing to the balcony (and there is no balcony here!) that tends to stifle the sound a bit. His voice was quite suited to the role of Mario in Puccini's Tosca and his Italianate sound pleased the ear. He also sang the role of Gustavo in the duet "Teco io sta" from Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera with Ms. Hick as his beloved Amelia.
There was more Verdi to come. Ms. Roytman and Mr. Singleton sang the tragic deathbed scene "Parigi o cara" from La Traviata with Ms. Roytman creating a sympathetic portrait of the doomed heroine. A very different portrait was painted by her in "Casta Diva" from Bellini's Norma. It is a glorious thing to hear a singer use different aspects of herself to limn different characters.
We are pleased to report that everyone's German and Italian diction was very good. The only troubling aspect of the evening was the singers' tendency to push their voices. The hall is small and the voices are large. Some pianissimo would have been welcome.
© meche kroop