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.

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Haeran Hong, Won Whi Choi, and Director Fabrizio Melano

Probably most opera goers realize how much work it takes to develop an operatically trained voice; but few of us give much thought to what it takes to put an opera onstage for us to enjoy. Fortunately, we had the privilege of being invited to attend a rehearsal of Verdi's tragic masterpiece La Traviata which will be performed by Opera in Williamsburg (Virginia), opening on September 12th.

We have always wished that this company were in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but it is not. Sadly we have not been able to leave New York to attend a performance but Founder Naama Zahavi-Ely kindly gave us an opportunity to witness the creative process.

Director Fabrizio Melano's process is one we could readily understand. Every line was first spoken and then sung.  Psychological motivations were explored and justifications were offered for each stage movement.  The process was meticulous and fascinating.  Here is just one example from the final scene--Violetta, sensitively portrayed by the splendid soprano Haeran Hong, does not read the entire letter from Germont.  She reads the first few lines because she knows it by heart.  She crumples it.  She presses out the wrinkles. These small touches tell us so much about the character.

Alfredo's greeting of his father (baritone Marco Nistico) tells us how much he has grown up over the prior few months. Terrific tenor Won Whi Choi received some very detailed direction which we will not share in case you are moved to attend the performance. We can only tell you that you won't be disappointed.

The role of Dr. Grenvil was performed by Eric Lindsey, whom we just reviewed as Don Giovanni with Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. He too received some interesting direction; when everyone else is expressing joy at Violetta's apparent recovery, he alone accepts the reality of her impending death.

Megan Pachecano in the role of Annina was given lots of direction for the way she relates to Violetta--when to rush in and when to stand back and give her room.

The rest of the cast comprises some rising stars we know and love--Suchan Kim, Pavel Suliandziga, Kirsten Scott, and William Desbiens.

The conductor is the gifted Jorge Parodi and we mustn't overlook how involved the conductor is from the very beginning of the rehearsal process. We hope you didn't think the conductor just shows up when the orchestra does!

We did not get to experience the final part of the rehearsal process with the orchestra but we did enjoy  Abdiel Vasquez' piano accompaniment.

© meche kroop

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