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.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Eve Queler and Friends

Eve Queler's claim to fame is not just her astute conducting of rarely heard operas at Carnegie Hall but, among other talents, her discovery and nurture of young artists and putting them before the public. It was a very special treat to return last night to the acoustically amazing Church of the Blessed Sacrament to enjoy what felt like a party for performers and their fans.

The Maestra herself performed most of the piano accompaniment and a superb chamber orchestra was on hand to add to the texture of the music. Several familiar faces were there and some new ones as well, singing highlights from past performances.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to hear soprano Jessica Rose Cambio who performed "Non so le tetre immagini" from Verdi's Il Corsaro which she sang with great depth of feeling. Her voice opens up at the top like an umbrella and she trills like a canary. She also sang "Tu del mio Carlo al seno" from Verdi's I Masnadieri, accompanied this time by the fine pianist Douglas Martin. The work has lovely arpeggios and a joyful staccato cabaletta.

Soprano Marsha Thompson  performed "Robert, toi que j'aime" from Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable.  (And just last night we heard Michael Fennelly play "The Nun's Dance" from the same opera!) There are some lovely descending scale passages and the accompaniment was largely in the hands of oboist Melanie Feld. Mr. Martin was her piano accompanist for "Col sorriso d'innocenza" from Bellini's Il Pirata in which Ms. Thompson showed herself to be a fine bel canto artist with some lovely embellishments and a very fiery cabaletta.

Bass Sava Vemić was a revelation  in "Si la rigeur" from Halévy's La Juive. He employed his deep earthy resonance to portray Cardinal Brogni commuting the sentence on Eléazar and his daughter. He exhibited plenty of depth at the bottom of his register and was convincingly forgiving. In "O tu Palermo" from Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani he delivered Procida's powerful paean to his homeland, accompanied by an appealing theme on the cello played by Eugene Moya.

Tenor Jonathan Blalock employed a pleasing tone in "Vainement, ma bien-aimée" from Lalo's Le Roi d'Ys.  This Aubade has the quality of a serenade and was beautifully accompanied by Elizabeth Mann's flute and Steven Hartman's clarinet. We further enjoyed Mr. Blalock's artistry in "Viens gentile dame" from Boieldieu's La Dame Blanche, filled with romantic eagerness.

There was no shortage of terrific tenors.  William Davenport used his sweet voice with its ringing top in "O paradis!" from Meyerbeer's L'Africaine accompanied by Erica Kiesewetter's violin. He invested "E la solita storia" from Cilea's L'Arlesiana with a great deal of pathos, accompanied by flute and violin.

Baritone Joshua Benaim performed "Vision fugitive!" from Massenet's Hérodiade with ample passion and good command of tone. We liked his "Vien, Leonore" from Donizetti's La Favorita even more with its typical bel canto arpeggios.

Benjamin Herman handled the percussion for the evening and Veronica Salas was the violist. What a pleasure to reconnect with operas heard only once and heard long ago! It was a time to meet old friends!

(c) meche kroop

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