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, November 12, 2015


Michael Fennelly, Maya Yahav Gour, Alexa Jarvis, Sean Michael Plumb, Jane Shaulis, Galeano Salas, and Sol Jin

Last night Opera Index held its annual membership party and recital. President Jane Shaulis served as M.C., speaking briefly about the 33 year history of the organization and how successful it has been at helping young singers climb the professional ladder by holding competitions and awarding grants. A perusal of the Opera Index competition winners from prior years yields dozens of famous names, singers who were first recognized in the early stages of their careers.

Members were treated to a highly entertaining recital by five of this year's award winners. Tenor Galeano Salas, whom we heard as an Apprentice Singer at the Santa Fe Opera last summer, opened the program with "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's La Bohème. Mr. Salas has a lovely romantic Italianate sound with a fullness in the upper register.

But the most compelling aspect of his performance was the way he created the entire scene--with no set and no scene partner. It was most convincing and we were happy to learn that he has been invited to return to Santa Fe Opera next summer.

He also sang Maria Grever's "Jurame" which wowed the audience.

Mezzo-soprano Maya Yahav Gour produced a nice even French line in "La romance de l'étoile" from Chabrier's L'étoile. Her background is as a jazz singer and she is presently a promising Master's Degree student at Mannes College.

Her voice has a most interesting texture and we enjoyed her bluesy delivery of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes".

Baritone Sol Jin, recently recognized in Opera News, sang "Avant de quitter ces lieux" from Gounod's Faust. He has a substantial sound and a lovely legato , creating that long lean line that we want to hear in French opera. In the martial central section, his voice became more forceful and the phrasing more clipped--a good use of variety.

He also sang a delightful Korean song in which metaphors from nature were used to describe romantic love.

Soprano Alexa Jarvis has a big sound that she employed well in "Stridono lassù" from Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci; she invested the song with ringing tone and substantial drama.

She also sang "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me". It delighted the audience to hear singers mix it up from "op" to "pop".

Baritone Sean Michael Plumb delivered "Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Erich Korngold's Die Tote Stadt. He has a wonderful instrument and stage presence, but what we really noticed was his superb German diction and a vibrato that reminded us of a cello.

As if this expanded program were not enough, we also heard a couple of duets--Ms. Jarvis took the role of Mimi to Mr. Salas' Rodolfo in the first act duet "O soave fanciulla" and then Mr. Salas sang the fourth act duet "O Mimi, tu più non torni" with Mr. Plumb as his Marcello. These duets were beautifully sung and dramatically convincing.

The hard working Mr. Salas had just arrived from Europe and had two auditions earlier in the day, which did not stop him from just one more song--"Because You're Mine". Some singers just love to sing! And we love to listen!

The accompaniment for the recital was perfectly handled by Michael Fennelly.

(c) meche kroop

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