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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Edgar Jaramillo and Jodi Karem
 D'ariel Barnard, Jackie M. Hayes, Roberto Borgatti, and Jodi Karem

Daniel Quintana, Patricia Vital, Walter Hartman and Omar Bowey
Summer is indeed a time for informality and so it was that we found ourselves at a café table, relaxed and smiling, enjoying excerpts of three operas and hearing some fine voices. Only a few were previously known to us (and much admired) and we were happy to be introduced to some new ones. Cleverly staged by Director Judith Fredricks with the versatile Robert Wilson as accompanist, the entire experience was pleasurable.

First on the program was Carmen, at least all of the essential scenes from Bizet's most popular work.  In the role of Don José, we heard the creamy-voiced tenor Edgar Jaramillo who seemed to reach into the depths of his soul to reveal the weak-willed country boy who is seduced away from his military and marital plans by that bad girl we all adore, the eponymous heroine.

Jodi Karem  has a fine mezzo and certainly conveyed Carmen's sexuality in the way the audience expects to experience it; nonetheless we sense that she has a deeply personal sexuality that she could bring to her interpretation.  She seemed more authentic in the tavern scene where she gets angry at Don José and mocks him.  That was riveting!

We had the same feeling about Veronica Loiacono in her interpretation of Micaëla.  She has a lovely soprano and gave us what we expected of a girl from the country; but in "Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante" she could probably benefit by digging a little deeper into some frightening experience of her own that she had to overcome, in order to make her portrayal feel more authentic.  That girl is pretending not to be scared!

As Escamillo, baritone Roberto Borgatti sang at the same fine level that he achieved several months ago as Giorgio Germont.  His interpretation of the arrogant toreador was right on the mark and he sure twirled that cape!

D'ariel Barnard and Jackie M. Hayes produced some beautiful harmonies as Frasquita and Mercedes. Singing in French is quite challenging, not only the vowels but the maintenance of an even barely accented vocal line.  Everyone's French was comprehensible but all could benefit by working on line.  Much of the phrasing was rather "four-square".

An excerpt from Puccini's Manon Lescaut followed with two big beautiful voices filling the room from stem to stern.  Julia Rolwing sang the eponymous heroine and Ta'u Pupu'a sang the role of Le Chevalier des Grieux.  The singing was outstanding but a bit more connection between these two artists would have been welcomed.

The final work on the program comprised excerpts from Donizetti's Don Pasquale.  Bass Walter Hartmann made an effective titular character and had the audience giggling.  He was especially fine in his patter song and had a fine duet with Norina, his intended bride.  That role was well sung and portrayed by soprano Patricia Vital.

We understand the justification for presenting the work in English, with the marvelous baritone Daniel Quintana employing his comic flair to narrate the action.  However, English is most difficult to understand in the upper register and we missed much of what Ms. Vital was singing; in the lower register, everything came across.  Some of the translation worked rather well but in other cases the accents of the text did not quite fit the accents of the music, as is often the case.

Mr. Quintana is truly a stage animal and did exceptionally well as Dr. Malatesta, both in his patter song and in his duet with Norina.  Last but by no means least, we were quite taken with Omar Bowey who brought his fresh sweet tenor to the role of Ernesto.  We were astonished to learn that he is only 21 years old and still an undergraduate.  We want to hear more of this promising young tenor as he matures.

Opera New York has several more tempting recitals to offer for the month of July.  Take a look at www.operany.com!

 © meche kroop

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