|Glenn Morton and the talented students of Classic Lyric Arts summer program
Among the many worthy organizations advancing the careers of young singers and collaborative pianists is Classic Lyric Arts which runs training programs in Italy (for the past six years) and in France (for the past three years). The two programs, L'Art du Chant Français and La Lingua della Lirica, were founded by Artistic Director Glenn Morton, vocal coach and teacher of diction and vocal literature at all three top music schools in New York City--and holder of a number of other prestigious positions.
The three week training programs accept only 40 students a year, of which 34 are singers and 6 are collaborative pianists. Admission is based on audition with career potential and readiness for advanced training being considered as well as talent. Exceptional students are granted scholarships.
One might read about what is being taught--repertoire, language, culture, diction, history, style, and dramatic presentation. One might read about the highly experienced teachers--Ubaldo Fabbri in Italy and Michel Sénéchal in France. But the proof of the pudding is in the performance. (Try saying that ten times really fast!)
Last night at the beautiful old world townhouse occupied by The Kosciuszko Foundation, we heard a recital of some of the students from last summer and from prior years. The performances were completely engaging. There were qualities that each artist demonstrated, confirming the belief that they were well-selected for the program and profited by the intense immersive training and daily coachings.
Every word was comprehensible as if the graduates of the total immersion programs were native speakers/singers. Phrasing was superb. Dramatic presentations were totally believable as if the arias and duets that were sung were given within the context of the entire opera.
This seems to be our week for hearing the duets we cherish. Last night, performers connected with one another and raised their voices in gorgeous harmony that delighted the ear. Soprano Marisa Karchin and mezzo Kady Evanyshyn, having completed the French program last summer, were exquisite together in "Dôme épais" from Leo Delibes' Lakmé.
From Bellini's I Capuleti ei Montecchi, we heard "Ah, crudel, d'onor ragioni" performed by the lovely Larisa Martinez as Juliet and Kirsten Scott as Romeo. We have heard Ms. Scott and reviewed her performances a few times and get a lot of joy out of witnessing her growth as an artist.
Soprano Nayoung Ban was a winning Adina with Terence Stone, a graduate of last summer's Italian program, an ardent Nemorino with all the required pathos. "Chiedi all'aura lusinghiera" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore was an appropriate choice for these two fresh young voices.
The charming duet "Nuit paisible et sereine" from Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédicte was sung in beautifully balanced harmony by soprano Dorothy Gal and mezzo Tal Heller, both graduates from last summer's French program.
From Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia we heard "Dunque io son" performed by the adorable Madison Marie McIntosh who made the most of her innocent appearance and wondrously flexible voice to outsmart the wily Figaro, so well performed by baritone Xiaomeng Zhang. We have heard and enjoyed both singers before.
"O soave fanciulla" from Puccini's La Bohème was performed by soprano Nadia Petrella and tenor Brian Moore. We were impressed by the way they connected with one another to the extent that we forgot they were acting.
Equally convincing were "Piangi, fanciulla/Si, vendetta" from Verdi's Rigoletto in which soprano Boya Wei portrayed the innocent but betrayed Gilda with lovely tone and affect. SeungHyeon Baek was completely convincing as Rigoletto and conveyed his character's paternal compassion just as well as his angry vengeful nature.
In "Au fond du temple saint" from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles, tenor Sean Christensen and baritone John Viscardi not only sang to perfection but they created a scene in which you could comprehend the relationship between Nadir and Zurga--both the caring and the rivalry. So intense was their interaction and reaction that when they sang "Elle est fuit" we turned around expecting to see Leila retreating!
Mr. Viscardi is a superb actor and Mercutio's solo "Mab, la reine des mensonges" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette was a fine addition to the program. Mr. Viscardi just completed the French program and completed the Italian program five years earlier. It is testament to the success of the programs that many students return for more study.
There was one more solo--not an aria but a song from Berlioz' Les nuits d'été, "Villanelle". Dorothy Gal, who has attended both programs, invested the song with all the delights of nature through the colors of her voice.
All four collaborative pianists excelled--Alden Gatt, Laetitia Ruccolo, Michael Stewart and Michael Sheetz who got up and spoke about his own experiences with the program, first as a student and evolving into a position as coach. So much talent all in one glorious evening! Let no one sound the death knell for opera when such amazing young people devote themselves to such rigorous study with such impressive results!
© meche kroop