|Maestro Harold Rosenbaum, Adam Cromer, Elena Heimur, Andrew Costello, Luiz-Ottavio Faria, Philip Alongi, Pamela Lloyd and Craig Ketter|
It's about time someone showed Antonio Carlos Gomes some love and Opera Dolce was just the right group to do it. The Brazilian composer, admired by Verdi and Liszt, is not exactly forgotten but neither is he remembered as he should be. Listening to arias and duets extracted from six of his operas, we were entranced by his way with melody. His compositional style always suited the character and the setting of the story, bridging bel canto and verismo.
Reading the stories of the operas, happily included in the program, we learned that his plots were just as filled with love, jealousy, murderous rage and self-sacrifice as all the other mid-19th c. operas that we love so dearly. Salvator Rosa, Maria Tudor, Joanna de Flandres, Lo Schiavo, Fosca and Il Guarany would all be perfectly wonderful given a full production.
For the moment, however, we were content to hear some fine large voices fill the space of the auditorium of Washington Irving High School, newly restored to Art Deco magnificence-- none of which distracted from the auditory treats. Sopranos Elena Heimur and Pamela Lloyd both have expansive sounds and the requisite dramatic intensity to get these arias across. Glamorously gowned, they took possession of the stage with commitment to the material and communicated the passion to the audience.
Tenors Adam Cromer and Philip Alongi both exhibited the same assets--commitment, communication and passion. Bass-baritone Andrew Costello filled the auditorium with a deep rich sound and bass Luiz-Ottavio Faria absolutely commanded the stage with a sound that reminded us of chocolate stout. We particularly enjoyed his "Oh Dio degli Aymoré" from Il Guarany and "Di Padre, Di Sposo" from Salvator Rosa.
Other favorite selections included Ms. Heimur's love duet with Mr. Cromer--"Soli del Mondo Immemori" from Fosca, in which the pair achieved perfect balance and harmony of voices. Mr. Cromer's solo from Maria Tudor, "Sol Ch'io ti sfiori", was especially lovely in the tender pianissimi moments.
In "Sogni d'amore" from Lo Schiavo, Mr. Costello's voice opened up beautifully under the influence of that gorgeous melody. He showed another side of himself in the more lighthearted waltz "Senza Tetto" from Il Guarany, which reminded us of a drinking song.
Ms. Lloyd used her big bright sound to great advantage in "Vendetta" from Maria Tudor, backed by Maestro Rosenbaum's Canticum Novum Singers. In "Quale orribile peccato" from Fosca, she was called upon to show remorse for plotting a kidnapping and murder.
Mr. Alongi's solo "Intenditi con Dio" from Fosca was filled with passion and showed great dynamic control in an admirable diminuendo. At the piano, Craig Ketter made a fine accompanist for all that drama and passion without ever drowning out the singers.
So...is there an adventurous company out there ready, willing and able to put one of these exemplary operas onstage? We surely hope so!
© meche kroop