|Megan Gillis and Kathleen Spencer|
What a pleasure it is to watch City Lyric Opera thrive! Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Kathleen Spencer and Megan Gillis, singers themselves, know exactly what singers need and have established an artist-centric company, a niche of which we heartily approve.
Last night, a gracious Upper West Side lady (and we do mean "lady") hosted a salon in celebration of the holiday season. With Amir Farid at the piano, there was plenty of singing, both professional and audience participation. Sets were well paced with plenty to eat and drink during the intermission.
We love being introduced to new singers so we had a field day, as they say. Mezzo-soprano Taylor-Alexis Dupont who sang in Porgy and Bess at The Metropolitan Opera appeared in a total wow of a red dress to deliver as passionate a delivery of Richard Strauss' "Zueignung" as we have ever heard. Clarion tone and fine German diction added up to a stellar performance.
It was a good night for mezzo-sopranos. Stephanie Feigenbaum was not new to us. We enjoyed her performance as Nancy in Britten's Albert Herring with Utopia Opera and also as the good witch Melissa in a Caccini opera with Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. Last night she showed us two different aspects of her talent.
"What a Movie" from Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti was delivered with perfect English diction, generous use of gesture, and just the right degree of irony. We were reminded of our own guilty pleasures and how we sometimes knock the things we enjoy because they are thought to be "beneath us"--like James Bond movies, for example.
Later, she sang "Make Someone Happy" from the forgotten musical Do Re Mi for which Comden and Green wrote the lyrics and Jules Styne composed the music. What a change from irony and histrionics to a quiet sincerity!
Baritone Joshua Miller sang a Charles Ives song called "Down East" that reminded him of his Maine roots. His mellow instrument and clarity of phrasing were joyful to hear.
Sadly, an unavoidably late arrival prevented us from hearing tenor Kameron Ghanavati sing a song by Ben Moore and soprano Celeste Morales singing Hugh Martin's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "I'll Be Seeing You". We were told they were both excellent and we are sure to catch up with them some other time.
Special Programs Manager Nehemiah Rolle led a discussion among the artists on the topic of what the holidays meant to them. It was an interesting idea and allowed those of us in the audience to see them as people, not just performers. We got to hear some charming stories.
There was group singing of "Winter Wonderland" and "Auld Lang Syne" (endless verses of it) but your faithful writer just moved her lips lest she send the entire group fleeing from the room!
At this time of year, think generously of the boutique opera companies that fill out the cultural landscape of our fair city with such beauty. City Lyric Opera deserves your support!
© meche kroop