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.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Briana Hunter, Elizabeth Chang, Stella Papatheodorou (photo by Leslie M. Ritch)
 Classic Lyric Arts is an organization that shares our goal of advancing the careers of young singers.  President and Artistic Director Glenn Morton hosted a Spring Benefit Gala last night at the Kosciuszko Foundation which was supported by the Gerda Lissner Foundation.  This was a wonderful opportunity for guests to hear some promising young singers and an equally wonderful opportunity for the young singers to show off what they have learned at the two European training programs.  Most of the singers have attended both La Lingua della Lirica in Emilia-Romagna and L'Art du Chant Français in the Périgord region.

We not only heard the singers but had plenty of time to speak with them about their experiences in the programs.  On both accounts one can consider the programs of CLA a huge success. Students are trained in diction, style, repertoire, stagecraft and career development.  They learn this from native speakers who teach in their own language.  It sounds like a total immersion experience.

The recital portion of the evening was led by Briana Hunter whose portrayal of Carmen in Bizet's "Gypsy Song" was as spirited as it was richly sung.  She will be performing the role at the Music Academy of the West.  She was joined by Stella Papatheodorou and Elizabeth Chang.

Madison Marie McIntosh and Terence Stone (photo by Leslie M. Ritch) 
"C'est le dieu de la jeunesse", a thrilling duet from Leo Delibes' Lakme was performed by sparkling soprano Madison Marie McIntosh and Terence Stone, whose voices harmonized so beautifully.

 A fun Rossini trio from Il Barbiere di Siviglia "Ah! Qual colpo/Zitti zitti" was sung by Maya Yahav Gour (who has a fine rich mezzo) along with tenor Vincent Festa and Xiaomeng Zhang.  Embellishments were handled in admirable bel canto style.
Sean Christensen and John Viscardi (Leslie M. Ritch)

Tenor Sean Christensen and baritone (yes, he is now a baritone and a fine one) John Viscardi did a fine duet from Puccini's La Bohème--"O Mimi tu più non torni".

Xiaoming Tian and Tamara Rusque (Leslie M. Ritch)

 Tamara Rusque gave Nedda a great big sound and some intense drama in her duet with Silvio from Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci.  Her Silvio was guest artist Xiaoming Tian.

Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi and Leonardo Caimi (Leslie M. Ritch)
Guest artists from Italy Donata D'Annunzio Lombardi and Leonardo Caimi thrilled the audience with their star-quality delivery of the duet "Parigi, o cara" from Verdi's La Traviata.  Ms. Lombardi also gave a moving account of "Un bel di" from Puccini's Madama Butterfly in which she floated the high notes and sustained the tone beautifully from pp to ff.  Mr. Caimi gave an equally moving performance of "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca.  This heartbreaking aria was sung with gorgeous phrasing and dynamic control.  What a pleasure to hear familiar arias sung so well by native-born Italian artists.  The air fairly oozed garlic.

The trio from the finale of Gounod's Faust --"Anges purs, anges radieux" was sung by Adriana Velinova with a full and resonant soprano that filled the room.  Her Faust was Michael Papincak with Fan Jia as the Devil--both guest artists.

Mr. Morton accompanied Ms. Lombardi and Mr. Caimi.  Other accompanists were Eri Nakamura, Laetitia Ruccolo, Michael Sheetz and David Mamedov.

Closing the program was "Make our garden grow" from Leonard Bernstein's Candide, conducted by Michael Sheetz.  May CLA grow like Candide's garden!

© meche kroop

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