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, November 3, 2017


Classsic Lyric Arts Gala at The Kosciuszko Foundation

We believe in evidence.  Last night's recital at the Kosciuszko Foundation featured an incredibly talented and beautiful group of young artists who attended L'Art du Chant Francais and/or La Lingua della Lirica last summer in France and Italy respectively. The evidence for the success of the programs can be found in the superlative performances we witnessed. Every single artist revealed splendid diction and a feeling for the style inherent in the language.

This is not magic but the result of hard work under the tutelage of masters and total immersion in the culture and its traditions. The French program accepts ten singers each year and provides tutelage under principal coach Michele Sénéchal who emphasizes the music inherent in the text.

The Italian program accept twice as many students and instructs them in the bel canto tradition. The principal coach in Italy is Ubaldo Fabbri. We are not mentioning any names but we recently heard a rather well known singer perform in Italian with final vowels that were just wrong.  "A"s become "o"s and vice versa.  No graduate of La Lingua della Lirica would make that mistake!

The nurturing environment permits these young artists to take risks and try new roles.  And that is how an artist can make a major leap forward and gain confidence.

Every singer was excellent and the choices on the program were a mixture of the usual and the unusual.  Many of the selections featured large ensembles, the success of which was probably related to the group having spent so much time together--studying, eating,  playing, and performing for the appreciative locals.

After a warm welcome from Glenn Morton, President and Artistic Director, the program opened with a scene from Rossini's La Cenerentola sung in perfect Italian and accompanied by Mina Kim. Closing the program was the final scene from Verdi's Falstaff, a ten-part fugue skillfully conducted by Ms. Kim with Sophia Zhou at the piano.

Another fine ensemble piece was the sextet "Chi mi frena in tal momento" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, for which Cherie Roe provided the piano accompaniment.

Special guest star was baritone Jared Bybee about whom we have been writing since we began writing. We love watching young artists grow and, no doubt, Mr. Bybee's earlier participation in CLA has added to his lustre. We enjoyed him as an Apprentice Singer in Santa Fe and witnessed his performances in award recitals from all the major foundations.  Last night he performed "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He sang with full rich Italianate tone and gave Figaro a lively winning personality. Hsini Huang was his accompanist.

We will not be able to give all the singers the credit they deserve but would like to point out a few performances that stood out.  Tenor Zachary Goldman and baritone Fernando Cisneros harmonized beautifully in "O Mimi tu piu non torni" from Puccini's La Boheme. Mr. Goldman is notable for a lovely unforced sound and Mr. Cisneros seemed to appear in many scenes, singing with full round tone,  a winning stage presence and the ability to inhabit a role, even a Falstaff.

Soprano Yvette Keong and tenor Ryan Hurley put a lot of tenderness into their performance of "Tornami a dir che m'ami" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale.

Moving on to the French part of the program, we were delighted to hear "Va, je t'ai pardoné" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette sung by the stunning soprano Larisa Martinez, about whom we have often written, and tenor Vincent Festa who sang Romeo with his ringing tenor and ardent involvement. We have heard him several times over the past 3 years and always enjoy his performances. Ms. Martinez made a winsome Juliet and both employed fine French diction. The air was literally ringing with overtones.

We didn't know that Reynaldo Hahn wrote an operetta and were tickled to hear "Nous avons fait un beau voyage" from Ciboulette which was based on the same Murger stories which inspired La Bohème. William Guanbo Su, who impressed us at his graduation recital and several performances which maximized the lower end of his register, surprised us with his facility at the upper end of his register; soprano Ashley Lea made a splendid partner in this cream puff of a duet.

Another operetta unknown to us was Ganne's Les Saltimbanques.  "C'est l'amour" featured Angela Candela and Mitchell Kasprzyk with Fabio Bezuti at the piano. Ms. Candela gave us yet another opportunity to appreciate her fine French in "Nocturne à deux voix" from Chabrier's Le roi malgré lui, performed in happy harmony with Amanda Nelson.

From Massenet's Cendrillon, we heard soprano Blair Cagney and mezzo-soprano Daniela Magura as the happily reunited couple in "Vous êtes mon prince charmant". Ms. Magura also had another opportunity to show off her fine French in "Nuit paisible et sereine" from Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédicte. In our opinion, this gorgeous duet rivals "The Flower Duet" from Delibes' Lakmé and we hope to hear it again soon. 

So many fine singers have come out of this excellent program! We predict glorious futures for these young artists if they take what they've learned and use it well.  Great teachers present students with opportunities. Great students take what they need and incorporate it.

(c) meche kroop

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