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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Emerging artists of Vocal Productions New York City

A benefit to celebrate Giving Tuesday was held last night at the Church of the Holy Apostles where renowned Bulgarian bass Valentin Peytchinov assembled a group of talented up-and-comers to provide an evening of favorite arias. Some of these emerging artists are well-known to us and some were new discoveries whose careers we plan to follow.

It is no secret that VPNYC is presenting Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Baruch Performing Arts Center from December 12th through the 17th, with Mr. Peytchinov himself singing the role of Don Basilio on the 16th. It was fitting that members of the cast presented excerpts from Rossini's comic masterpiece and we heard just enough to know that it is a "must-see".

Mezzo-soprano Madison Marie McIntosh has been on our radar for a few years and we have witnessed her transition from soprano to mezzo; we are delighted to report that every time we hear her we hear more expansion at the bottom of the register, with absolutely no loss of ping in the upper extension.  She has also contributed some really interesting ornamentation to Rosina's famous "Una voce poco fa" (with some help from Will Crutchfield) that served to maintain interest in this oft heard aria. There is nothing like an original cadenza to grab our attention.

As the scolding Dr. Bartolo we heard newcomer Keith Milkie who overcame youthful good looks by means of his resonant low voice and fine acting to convince us in the role. We have heard handsome young basses and bass-baritones accomplish this feat with appropriate makeup and costuming completing the illusion. We will be alert to this when we attend the performance!

Another singer we have been following is bass-baritone Lawson Anderson who performed Prince Igor's aria from the Borodin opera of the same name. He performed it with such passionate intensity and such fluent Russian that we were absolutely riveted. The texture of his voice is perfectly suited to this aria and we would very much like to hear him perform the opera someday. We heard it three years ago at the Met with Ildar Abdrazakov in a reconstructed version.

Perhaps it was because we had a moment of silence in memory of our beloved Dmitri Hvorostovsky or maybe Mr. Anderson was just that good --but perhaps he will fill those sadly empty shoes.

Dramatic soprano Anna Viemeister stunned us with "Vieni t'affretta" from Verdi's Macbeth. Not only was her instrument compelling in its intensity but she convinced us of the qualities of the power hungry character--powerful but seductive and manipulative. Her fioritura shone in the cabaletta.

Emma Lavandier is new to us and we heartily enjoyed her performance of Siébel's aria "Faites-lui mes aveux" from Gounod's Faust. She has a bright crystalline sound and an affecting delivery. But most important, she is a Francophone and it was a distinct pleasure to hear the language sung the way it should be sung.

Charlotte's aria "Je vous écris de ma petite chambre", from Massenet's Werther, was given a lovely performance by Viktoriya Koreneva, one which was notable for its excellent French but also for a convincing portrayal of the varying moods of a woman torn between duty and romantic longing she is trying to suppress.

Highlights from Verdi's Il Trovatore ended the program and both singers were superb and new to us. Dramatic Soprano Julianna Milin exhibited a fine rich tone and dramatic import in "Tacea la notte placida" in which she tells her companion how she came to fall in love with Manrico. In the cabaletta we were impressed by the neatness of the skips, runs, and staccati.

Mezzo-soprano Lorna Case grew in power as she delivered "Condotta ell'era in ceppi", the aria in which the gypsy Azucena relates the terrible story of her mother's gruesome death, burning at the stake. The horror of throwing her baby into the fire can be conveyed even though the story defies rationall belief. Ms. Case brought the tale to a dramatic conclusion.

This review is growing longer than the concert but let us mention the ardent performance of the serenade "Ecco ridente in cielo" by tenor Raymond Storms, baritone Yun Kwan Yiu's effective "Largo al factotum", and bass-baritone Claudio Mascharenas' creation of the nasty character of Don Basilio in "La Calunnia". You will be able to catch these performances at the December run described above.

Perhaps a Faust is in the works as well.  We got to hear baritone Jeremy Griffin sing "Avant de quitter ces lieux" and Charles Gray sing the devilish "Vous qui faites l'endormie".

The evening ended with the Act II Finale from Il Barbiere di Siviglia with soprano Sangying Li singing Rosina, Mr. Yiu taking the role of Figaro, and Samuel Varhan singing Count Almaviva. The renowned Francisco Miranda was accompanist for the evening and matched the glorious singing with some impressive piano playing.

We hope that the artistic generosity of the singers will be matched by the financial generosity of the audience. It is organizations like VPNYC that provide opportunities for emerging artists to learn new roles and gain performance experience.

(c) meche kroop

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