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.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Areti Giovanou,  Thornstein Árbjörnsson, and Stefanos Koroneos
When we bring people to vocal recitals who don't speak French or German or Italian or Spanish, we have often wondered in what manner they appreciate the experience. We ourselves are familiar with the languages and relish the sound as well as the meaning. It was quite an experience to hear an entire recital in Greek and Icelandic, neither of which we speak! There was no program, no libretto, and no titles. Collaborative pianist Areti Giovanou, while a superb pianist, is no public speaker; her muffled introduction was no help whatsoever.

Consequently we just sat back and let the music wash over us, catching only a few words here and there. Baritone Stefanos Koroneos delivered the songs with intensity, sad as they were. These songs were composed by Oscar winner Greek composer Manos Xatjiidakis as part of a play called "Captain Michaelis"which was, in turn, based on Kazantjakis book " Freedom or Death". The songs were recorded for voice and piano but were orchestrated two years ago for Mr. Koroneos.

Ms. Giovanou's piano amazingly reproduced the sounds of the bouzouki which we remember from our time spent in Greece.

The Icelandic portion of the program took us back to a recital at Juilliard in which one of the students had written an opera in Icelandic.  The clipped Nordic sound lends itself very well to humor, which can also be said for English.  Tenor Thornstein Arbjörnsson has a sweet voice and an engaging manner in which he described the folk songs of his country--dealing with elves and nature. He had us smiling before he even began.

Our ears found their footing at the end of the program when the two voices joined for a beautiful duet in Italian--Rossini's "I Marinai", the final song of his Soirées Musicales, sometimes called "Li Marinari". It is a song of courage and mastery of the storm before being greeted by a rainbow and with expectations of an affectionate homecoming when back on land.

(c) meche kroop

No comments:

Post a Comment