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, March 27, 2019


Allison Gish
Eva Parr and Erik Bagger
We had a grand time last night at The Flea in Tribeca, where New Camerata Opera presented a very fun very gala evening of food, drink, entertainment, and a foretaste of some upcoming events.

The always adventuresome company not only presents works for us grownups but also brings opera into the public schools with their Camerata Piccolo Program and further has a program called CamerataWorks, creating short video operas for the video generation. One might say they have all the bases covered, if you will permit a metaphor from someone who knows nothing about sports. Let us say they are about to hit a home run with their upcoming performance of Britten's Rape of Lucretia.

Director Bea Goodwin (whose work we love and heartily endorse) gave a brief talk about female vulnerability which was brought to society's awareness by this story over two millenia ago; the situation has not yet been remedied. She spoke about the harsh reality of rape and its dire consequences.  She made a strong plea for defending citizens from tyrants. Can we relate to this when our own president is a "groper"?

Her talk was followed by some gripping performances from the opera which will be presented May 2nd, 4th, and 5th, also at The Flea, a comfortable and convenient venue.

Erik Bagger lent his soulful tenor to "Tarquinius' Ride" and showed admirable flexibility in adorning the vocal line. The excitement built just as Britten intended with the excellent Brian Holman accompanying on the keyboard.

Baritone Stan Lacy illuminated more about Tarquinius' character than we have ever heard in "Within this frail crucible of light" and, surprisingly, we found ourself understanding where this "bad dude" was coming from.

One of Ms. Goodwin's original directorial inventions was to have Amelia Hensley conveying the text of "Give him this orchid" in American Sign Language whilst the powerful mezzo-soprano Allison Gish sang the aria. The signing was so graceful to watch that we had trouble focusing on Ms. Gish's superlative singing.

Fortunately, we had another opportunity later in the program when this marvelous mezzo sang "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Not since we heard Marilyn Horne sing this role have we enjoyed it as much.

Soprano Mithuna Sivaraman used her coloratura instrument effectively in "Da tempeste il legno infranto" from Händel's Giulio Cesare. The clarity of her enbellishments of the vocal line left no doubt about her gift for Baroque opera. We heard her previously in a contemporary piece but readers will have no doubt about our preference. We cannot evaluate a singer's voice until we hear him/her singing something Baroque or Bel Canto!

To end the entertainment portion of the evening, mezzo-soprano Eva Parr transported us to Lillas Pastia's taberna with "Les tringles des sistres tintaient" from Bizet's Carmen. This is not the first time we heard Mr. Bagger play the guitar and his accompaniment here was delightful and very Spanish. Ms. Parr's versatility as an artist made her a fine Carmen.

The third branch of New Camerata Opera is CamerataWorks and we watched a short video of a Charles Ives song "Songs my mother taught me". We confess that we don't "get" video and furthermore, on this topic, we prefer Dvorak! Still, it's a worthwhile project and sure to find an audience.

Aside from the upcoming Britten, on May 3rd there will be a concert of songs by women--Isabella Colbran, Pauline Viardot, and Maria Malibran. So...are the Heroines of Opera the composers, the characters of the operas, or the singers???  Let's find out on May 3rd.

(c) meche kroop

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