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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Mario Chang, Paul Han, Shirin Eskandani, Maya Lahyani, Alexey Lavrov, Alison King, Ryan Speedo Green, Joseph Dennis  
Renowned for their generosity in supporting young singers, the Gerda Lissner Foundation hosted a festive evening at the New York Athletic Club last night honoring beloved soprano Diana Soviero.  Foundation President Stephen De Maio introduced Brian Kellow, Features Editor of Opera News, who served as host. Eight winners of the 2014 International Vocal Competition provided the entertainment. The judges did a fine job in selecting these very talented artists.

Israeli mezzo Maya Lahyani opened the recital with a vibrant performance of the well-known "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen.  Ms. Lahyani has a rich true mezzo sound and a fine way of getting a song across.

Tenor Joseph Dennis showed good dynamic control in "Salut, demeure, chaste et pure" from Gounod's Faust; he succeeded in creating variety from one verse to the next.

Soprano Alison King has a lovely vibrato that she employed in "Iolanta's Arioso" from Tchaikovsky's Iolanta.  We liked the way her energy built to the climax and hope to hear her perform the entire opera in the future.

Tenor Paul Han did some lovely singing in "Fantaisie aux divins mensonges" from Delibes' Lakmé which he invested with great feeling, exhibiting an enviably delicate pianissimo.  We loved the way he floated his high notes without any strain.

The program next moved to the first prize winners.  Mezzo Shirin Eskandani has mastered the bel canto style of which we are so very fond.  Her "Non più mesta" from Rossini's  La Cenerentola was marked by accuracy in the runs and some unusual and finely executed embellishments.

Baritone Alexey Lavrov, well known from the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, gave a musical and marvelously well-modulated performance of "Vy mne pisali" from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.  His interpretation presented the title character the way we have always thought of him--not overwhelmingly arrogant or cruel but a bit severe in his instruction of the immature Tatiana, as if he were an older brother setting her straight.

Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, also well-known from the Lindemann program, conveyed the blustery humor of Osmin in "Solche hergelaufne Laffen" from Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail".  He can create a wonderful character without any sacrifice of musicality or tone production, making it all appear natural and effortless.

Grand prize winner Mario Chang gave an electrifying performance of "Ella mi fu rapita" from Verdi's Rigoletto.  It was a strong and generous Italianate performance that gave everything Verdi asked for.  A wonderful cadenza capped the presentation.

Accompanying pianists were Arlene Shrut and Jonathan Kelly.

We remain grateful as ever to The Gerda Lissner Foundation for the generous support they give to young artists.

© meche kroop

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