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.
|Corrie Stallings, Simon Dyer, and Kara Morgan in scene from Domenico Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto at Santa Fe Opera (photo by Bobby Gutierrez)|
We've been back from Santa Fe for a week now and the arrival of photos from the second evening of scenes presented by the apprentices served to bring back so many happy memories of an outstanding evening at Santa Fe Opera. It will be a year until we return and return we will!
As usual, the group of apprentices were astutely selected, and a most interesting selection of scenes were chosen to highlight their individual talents. Certain scenes stood out for their effectiveness. We loved the scene from Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier in which Octavian presents the silver rose to Sophie (the wonderful soprano Liv Redpath) who is engaged to his boorish cousin Baron Ochs (not present in this scene).
What blew us away was the completely believable performance of mezzo-soprano Samantha Gossard who not only sang magnificently but was totally convincing in her portrayal of a 17-year-old aristocratic youth--confident almost to the point of entitlement, but touched by Sophie's innocence. Imagine our shock when we met Ms. Gossett offstage and perceived her overwhelming femininity. Now that's acting!
Sophie's father Herr Von Faninal was portrayed by baritone Kenneth Stavert with tenor Eric Ferring as the Haushofmeister and soprano Sarah Tucker as Marianne.
Readers are well aware how fond we are of zarzuela and the scene from Pablo Sorozabal's La Tabernera del Puerto was presented in exemplary fashion by lovely soprano Meryl Dominguez as Marola, a woman of questionable virtue, and tenor Rafael Moras singing his heart out as the sailor Leandro, in the well-known aria "No puede ser". His commitment to the role was total and the audience responded with wild applause. This just made us want to see the zarzuela in toto and we continue to believe there is an audience for zarzuela here in New York.
Casting an even wider net was the choice of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Perhaps the composer does not think of this work as an opera but we have always considered it as such and the sensational casting convinced us that we are right. Bass James Harrington made a fine Judge Turpin discussing his plans for his ward Johanna (lovely soprano Andrea Lett) with the Beadle, sung by the always terrific tenor Adam Bonanni who tells him he needs a trip to the barber. Hehehe.
Meanwhile Johanna is frolicking with her young man Anthony, finely portrayed by the superb baritone Brian Vu, on the other side of the stage. Director Kathleen Clawson did her usual excellent work in highlighting the contrast of innocence and evil.
The photo used for this review was taken from a scene from Cimaroso's Il matrimonio segreto, a delightful comic opera of the classical period, the characters of which seem derived from commedia dell'arte. Carolina (super soprano Adelaide Boedecker) has eloped with her lover Paolina (fine tenor Paul Han) and is hiding from her father Il Signor Geronimo, enacted by bass-baritone Simon Dyer, who blusters beautifully.
Mezzo-soprano Corrie Stallings stood out as the envious sister Elisetta, not only for her fine singing but for her hilarious comic timing. Mezzo Kara Morgan sang the role of Aunt Fidalma with the handsome bass-baritone Erik Van Heyningen just right in the role of Il Conte Robinson who seems to be willing to marry either sister. The entire cast worked well together with directorial credit going again to Ms. Clawson who impresses us every summer.
Crystal Manich also had two scenes to direct. We loved the scene from Massenet's Werther in which the married Charlotte, movingly portrayed by mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit, must confront her feelings toward the eponymous Werther, sung by tenor Richard Smagur. Both artists were in admirable control of their vocal artistry and their dramatic intention. We believed every minute, in spite of being distracted by Werther's weird costume of unflattering and seemingly inappropriate short pants.
Ms. Manich's other scene was from Puccini's Edgar. It was well performed by mezzo-soprano Morgan Middleton with tenor Peter Scott Drackley as the titular Edgar and baritone Thaddeus Ennen fine as his friend Frank. This is an early effort by Puccini and we can understand why it has not joined the canon.
A scene from Verdi's Falstaff was light-hearted and lively with all four women having great fun as they compare letters from the lecherous knight. Ms. Tucker was Alice Ford with soprano Joanna Latini as her daughter Nannetta. Meg Page was sung by mezzo-soprano Pascale Spinney and mezzo Mariya Kaganskaya as Mistress Quickly. Omer Ben Seadia's direction was on point but Katie Dennis' costuming was peculiar.
Finally, we had a scene from Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, featuring splendid soprano Jessica Jones as Anne Truelove and Mr. Harrington as her father. Tenor Terrence Chin-Loy portrayed the slacker Tom Rakewell who left plenty of room in his life for the seductive Nick Shadow, given an excellent reading by bass-baritone Tyler Zimmerman.
We always enjoy watching these highly talented emerging artists take the stage in major roles--even more than watching them onstage in major productions where they are given smaller roles. The Sunday night Apprentice Recitals give them their chance to shine and shine they did!
(c) meche kroop