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, July 30, 2015


Erin Morley (photo by Carlo Allemano)

We have been thrilling to Erin Morley's voice for a few years now, both in recital and in opera. This young artist has a distinctive coloratura instrument with a clarion tone that is both brilliant and focused. As the eponymous Rossignol in the Stravinsky opera, she brought down the house at the Santa Fe Opera last summer and delighted the New York audience on Richard Tucker Day shortly thereafter with some mesmerizing Mozart.

Last night at Avery Fisher Hall, she brought us more Mozart (of course, since it was a Mostly Mozart night) and impressed us with her ability to throw herself into a concert aria with as much dramatic intensity as if she were performing the entire opera. Every phrase had direction, meaning and purpose.

The opera Il Curioso Indiscreto by Pasquale Anfossi,for which Mozart contributed the two arias, has long since been forgotten while the arias remain for our delectation. In the first aria, "Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!" the heroine rejects a suitor and attempts to send him back to the woman who loves him.

In last night's performance, Ms. Morley's stunning artistry was accompanied by oboe soloist Randall Ellis and a sea of pizzicato strings. Clearly she was immersed in the drama and brought the audience right along with her.

In the second aria, "No, che non sei capace", the heroine must defend her honor from false accusations. The wide leaps and over-the-top fioritura would be a challenge for any coloratura but Ms. Morley tackled them fearlessly, thus earning the name we will forever attach to her--Le Rossignol.

We enjoyed Maestro Louis Langrée's conducting, particularly the way he stirred up the drama in the orchestra in between vocal phrases and brought it back down when Ms. Morley was singing. They seemed to have a fine partnership.

The second highlight of the evening was Emanuel Ax's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major. His attack was firm and assured as his fingers flew over the keys, with every scale passage articulated, which is more than we could say for the string section of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Their playing seemed somewhat flabby, especially in the curtain-raiser, the overture to Der Schauspieldirektor which we enjoyed last summer in Santa Fe.

The program closed with Mozart's Symphony No. 34 in C major, K. 338. Although there are passages that presage his later more accomplished symphonies, this one failed to ignite much excitement. In both the piano concerto and the symphony, we preferred the lyrical playing of the slower second movements.

(c) meche kroop

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