|Kneeling: Luke Scott and Alejandra Ruiz (photo courtesy of NY Lyric Opera)
We always want to be in the audience when the versatile Argentinian conductor Jorge Parodi wields his magic. Friday night at Weill Recital Hall he showed a special affinity for Mozart. The froth of the melodies was all there but full attention was paid to the depths of characterization in Nozze di Figaro. The Metamorphsis Chamber Orchestra gleamed under his guidance. The Artistic Director of the Orchestra is bassoonist Pierre Lidar.
Able assistance in interpretation was contributed by the singers, directed by Isabel Milenski, who directed the same opera at Juilliard. Her touch is unmistakable. The singers sang well and acted with conviction in this semi-staged production by New York Lyric Opera whose Artistic Director Elizabeth Heuermann can be counted on to put on a good show. We have no idea who condensed Mozart's long opera into an hour performance but it was long enough and well enough staged that one could understand the story and the relationship between the characters. Effective costumes by Brenna McShane made up for the lack of scenery.
Although the superb chamber orchestra occupied half the stage, the singers had no problem singing above the sound. Luke Scott cut a fine figure as the eponymous hero and we particularly enjoyed his "Non vedrai" in which he employed a falsetto voice for some of the lines. The role fit him like a glove. As his bride, Alejandra Ruiz was winsome and won our heart. She was particularly fine in "Giunse al fin...Deh vieni non tardar".
In the roles of the aristocrats, Boris Mitchell sang and acted successfully as Count Almaviva and Jennifer Noel, as his Countess, did a lovely job with "Dove Sono", such that we mourned the missing "Porgi Amor". Her duet with Ms. Ruiz delighted the ear.
It is a small role but we were enchanted by Joseph Andrew Yu's gossipy Don Basilio. How surprising it was to learn that he is still an undergraduate at Manhattan School of Music. We predict a good future for this young man. We also liked another young artist, Matthew Hutcheson-Bleiberg whose lanky appearance added to his success as Antonio.
Kaitlin Hatchett as Cherubino, Courtney Wilson as Marcellina, and James williams as Bartolo all contributed to the fun onstage and sang well.
The first half of the evening was given over to a succession of arias, each sung by a different singer. It was a great opportunity to hear a lot of different artists, among whom several stood out. Giovanni Longo's accompaniment was unusually sensitive and supportive.
Tenor Percy Martinez sounded more impressive than he has on prior hearings in smaller rooms. His voice was just the right size and timbre for "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca.
We liked the intensity of tenor Antonio Signorello in "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. We were impressed by the harmonization of Kaitlin Hatchett and Sangying Li in "The Prayer Duet" from Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel". Their English diction was so excellent that we missed not a single word. Any singers who have tried to make themselves understood in English will understand how difficult that is.
Danielle Davis sang "Elsa's Dream" from Wagner's Lohengrin with authority and good dynamic control. She started sweetly but built to an heroic climax.
Although we are in the dog days of summer, New York Lyric Opera had no problem packing the house. Opera lovers are always thirsting for talent and there was plenty of that onstage!
(c) meche kroop