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, July 13, 2015


Christina Hourihan getting wound up by Voce di Meche (photo by Chris Arnau)
Kyungmi Nam, Christina Hourihan, and Abigail Wright

It was une belle nuit, if about 20 degrees warmer than our preferred temperature, but the oppressive heat could not keep us away from a night of songs, arias and duets from some of our favorite works. With the fine accompaniment of pianist Kyungmi Nam, the scintillating soprano Christina Hourihan and the mellifluous mezzo-soprano Abigail Wright graced the stage of the acoustically perfect concert hall at the National Opera Center. The heat could not keep us away, nor did it have a deterrent effect on the audience, gathered together to listen and be entertained.

Above all else, we adore duets and the two lovely ladies joined their voices in harmony for "Sous le dôme épais" from Léo Delibes Lakmé.  The gals not only sang but entered into the spirit of the work with Ms. Hourihan enacting the part of the eponymous heroine and Ms. Wright, that of the nurturing companion Mallika.

Later the two gals made much of the interesting close harmonies of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" with excellent contributions from Ms. Nam's piano. To close the program, the two joined voices once more for "Belle Nuit" from Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffman.  How absolutely perfect! There was also an encore of "Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.

Ms. Hourihan has a bright coloratura sound which is well-focused and well suited to the trills, arpeggios and wide skips of Olympia's aria "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" from Les Contes d'Hoffman. For that aria, she donned a short doll-like dress and ballet slippers, charmingly portraying the mechanical doll, wound up by a large silver key--to the audience's amusement. Guess who was chosen to wind her up!!!

Ms. Wright, on the other hand, has a rich and resonant instrument that retains its power all the way to the bottom of the register. She performed three songs from Georges Bizet' Carmen, of which our favorite was "En vain pour éviter" which is generally overlooked in favor of the Habanera and the Seguidilla.

A fine guitarist by the name of Kenji Haba provided the accompaniment for a pair of songs by Douglas DaSilva--one a tender tale of a ghost appearing to her husband, based on a 19th c. haiku by Yosa Buson--the other a setting of a grim anti-war text by Wilfred Owen.

The audience was as pleased as could be by the program. Old, new, borrowed and blue!

(c) meche kroop

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