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.

Monday, April 25, 2022


 Aaron Blake and Ken Noda
Yesterday we had the good fortune of hearing a fulfilling recital at the Morgan Library given by tenor Aaron Blake with collaborative pianist Ken Noda. We have written about Mr. Blake for years; our familiarity with his artistry goes way back before he won the George London Competition in 2017 and now the George London Foundation had invited him back as a mature artist.

But we first heard him 10 years ago at the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition Winners Recital when he sang "Oh Mimi, tu più non torni" from Puccini's La Bohème.  And how his career has blossomed! Since then, we have heard him singing with several opera companies and in various venues, from the lead in Gregory Spears' opera Fellow Traveller to an intimate gathering at one of Elad Kabilio's "Music Talks" where he dazzled us with Schubert's "Erlkönig". We even heard him sing in Czech (a rather bizarre Martinu opera) and in an adventurous production of Die Zauberflöte at the Mostly Mozart Festival.

This recital just added more lustre to his reputation.  The theme was "love in its many forms" and leaned heavily on our favorite period--Bel Canto. We thought we had our fill of this period the prior night at one of our salons at home (which we did not review, wishing to avoid a conflict of interests.) However, one can never have too much bel canto--like champagne.  The songs of Bellini and Donizetti served to highlight Mr. Blakes warm and flexible tenor and his artistry with fioritura.

Selections alternated between the two composers and moods varied. It is difficult to say which was "best" but we can say which ones moved us. We loved the contrast between the spirited "Me voglio fa' 'na casa" (Donizetti) and the propulsive "Malinconia ninfa gentile" (Bellini). The 6/8 time signature of Donizetti's "Il barcaiolo" had us swaying in our seat.

Mr. Noda, one of the most selfless collaborative pianists we have heard, was consistently superb.  Bellini's "La ricordanza" has a lovely piano introduction that he rendered with supreme delicacy.

The Bel Canto section was followed by another interesting set of contrasting composers--Richard Strauss and Tosti. If there is a more haunting melody than Tosti's "L'ultima canzone" we cannot name it. We love the contrast between the sorrowful introspection of the narrative interspersed with the lilting love song recalled by the narrator from happier days

Strauss' "Allerseelen" was meant to be sung at George London's centennial birthday, another casualty of Covid. We loved the way the final note just hung in the air; the entire audience seemed to be holding its collective breath.

A pair of Liszt's setting of the Petrarch songs lifted the excitement level. Again there was a lovely contrast between the anxious obsession of "Pace non trovo" which was introduced by the piano and the lyrical "I vidi in terra" with the piano inhabiting the upper register.  Again, the final note may have resolved harmonically but the effect was that of being suspended in air.

Perhaps our very favorite part of the program was Edgardo's aria "Tombe dei avi miei"  from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. We heard Mr. Blake sing this before (perhaps with New Amsterdam Opera?) and from it he wrings every drop of suicidal despair.

The last set of songs confirmed our opinion that American songs of the 20th c. belong in the art song canon without apology. We do believe that Steven Blier sees it the same way! We enjoyed George Gershwin's  "A Foggy Day" and Cole Porter's "It's De-lovely" meant to describe Nora London, and accompanied by a little Gene Kelly dance. Who knew Mr. Blake had such terpsichorean talent!

These jazzy numbers alternated with songs by Aaron Copeland.  "The Dodger" is amusing and Mr. Blake endowed the lyrics with abundant personality. The strophic nature of "Long Time Ago" must be Copeland's setting of a folk song; it reminded us of Brahms.

We were sitting there wishing the concert had ended on a more upbeat note; Mr. Blake and Mr. Noda made sure that it did.  The encore was the ever-popular "O sole mio" (by di Capua and Mazzucchi) expansively delivered. We left with a big smile.

What a well curated concert that was--a  real adventure departing from the standard "one set, one composer" tradition. Mr. Noda's piano was a true equal partner and Mr. Blake's admirable artistry was accompanied by a warm generous manner of addressing the audience, including some personal stories that left us feeling closer than in the usual concert.  Bravi tutti!

© meche kroop

Saturday, April 23, 2022


 Maestro Michelle Rofrano, pianist Dura Jun, Nate Mattingly, Mary Rice, 
Laura Soto-Bayomi, Kelly Guerra, and Scott La Marca

 Last night, City Lyric Opera celebrated in high style with their Spring Gala, an auditory feast that was as bubbly as the bubbly that was served. We have been a fan of CLO for all six seasons and well recall when their name referred to their mission--opera that was accessible, relatable, and enjoyable. The name has changed but the mission has thankfully been preserved.

We don't know of any other opera company that is helmed and staffed by women and focuses on a female point of view. This past year, female composers have been celebrated.  Pauline Viardot's Cendrillon was a huge hit. Music Director Maestro Michelle Rofrano is now also the Artistic Director.

We were warmly welcomed by Megan Gillis, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, who announced the final offering of the season--Elizabeth Raum's The Garden of Alice. We had a sneak preview by means of an aria charmingly sung by soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi. To our astonishment, the aria was melodic which is a quality we rarely see in contemporary works. We are actually looking forward to seeing it! Watch our Facebook page for announcements.

Another major treat of the evening was that we got to hear THREE arias from zarzuelas! Zarzuelas are so full of passion and melody that we never fail to feel drawn into the story, even when there is only a solitary aria presented. Mezzo-soprano Mary Rice performed "Carceleras" from Chapi's Las hijas del Zebedeo with Latin flair and a fine Castilian accent. We loved the tongue-twisting rapid fire delivery, the intense rhythmicity, the word coloring, the gestures, and the polished vocalism.

Mezzo-soprano Kelly Guerra filled out "La Petenera" from Torroba's La marchenera with a rich tone and such brightness in the upper register that a soprano might envy. We particularly enjoyed the mercurial changes of mood.

From Vives' Doña Francisquita, tenor Scott La Marca performed "Por el humo se sabe dónde está el fuego" with intensity and passion.  The many "turns" on the vocal line were clean and precise. Mr. La Marca is gifted in conveying a mood as we heard in "Lonely House" from Kurt Weill's Street Scene which felt as lonely as an Edward Hopper painting. Furthermore, he created a very winning Nemorino in "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore. By means of word coloration, he made each verse different from the others.  There was a very lengthy drawn out pianissimo on "morir" that had us holding our breath.

There were more Italian pieces on the generous program. Baritone Nate Mattingly seems to have a real flair for nasty characters, although he seems to be very pleasant in person. His mobile face and lengthy limbs serve him well in creating a character.  We wouldn't call Figaro a nasty character but he does have a nasty moment plotting against his employer Count Almaviva in "Se vuol ballare" from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. There are some rather colorful jokes for those who speak Italian that let us know just how nasty he is feeling. Don Basilio, on the other hand, is a truly nasty character always plotting to rain on someone's parade. Mr. Mattingly's delivery of "La calunnia" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia started with a whisper and built to a climax--the sound of the cannon. The way he rolled his "r"s had us laughing out loud.

From the same opera, Ms. Guerra did great justice to Rosina's "Una voce poco fa" in which the young heroine is also plotting--but not to hurt anyone else, just to get out from under the thumb of Don Bartolo. We enjoyed the steps she went through to come up with a plan.  There was not a bit of cliché in her performance,

Ms. Guerra is excellent at comedy. We are completely unfamiliar with Derrick Wang's opera Scalia/Ginsburg which has been around since 2015 but never produced in New York City (tant pis). We have been so fed up with boring contemporary operas that we began to tar them all with the same brush.  What a joy to hear excerpts from two that we enjoyed, one of which CLO will produce next month.  Perhaps they could be persuaded to do the Wang opera in the near future. The aria performed by Ms. Guerra, "You, Sir, are wrong here" was marked by clever rhymes and rhythms. We enjoyed every phrase.

Ms. Soto-Bayomi delighted us with "Stridono lassu" from Leoncavallo's  realismo opera I pagliacci. We have heard her perform it before and consider it her signature piece. For the opera to work we have to feel sympathy for a cheating wife and it is not only Leoncaallo's music that works on us but the artistry of the singer. In this case we saw the birds overhead and felt her longing for freedom.

Another side of her was shown in "Klänge Der Heimat" from Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus.  There is our heroine disguised as a Hungarian countess and playing it to the hilt--a delightful performance.

There were also some ensembles on the program, well-directed by Mo. 
Rofrano. The trio "Soave sia el vento" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte allowed her to show her skill at balancing the three voices. In the quartet "Bella figlia dell'amore" from Verdi's Rigoletto each vocal line was given clarity and the whole exceeded the sum of the four parts.

Pianist for the evening was the talented Dura Jun who seems to be able to play handsomely in any style.

What a splendid evening! New York is fortunate indeed to have a company that can entertain us opera lovers so well; and young singers are fortunate to be valued and paid for their artistry.

© meche kroop

Monday, April 11, 2022


Laura León and John Riesen (photo by Richard Termine)
Cast of On site Opera's Gianni Schicchi (photo by Richard Termine)

Luis Ledesma (photo by Richard Termine)

Of all the opera companies we have missed, On Site Opera heads the list. Unique among opera companies, On Site Opera makes an asset out of "homelessness".  As they say, home is where the heart is, and On Site Opera's heart is wherever they can set a given opera in a meaningful locale. 
For tonight's delight, Director Eric Einhorn decided quite rightly that The Prince George Ballroom, ornate and dripping in luxury, would be the right home for Gianni Schicchi, Puccini's late life comedic masterpiece.

Any dramatist will tell you that comedy is more difficult to write and more challenging to act, than tragedy. It must also be true for composition because neither Puccini nor Verdi tackled the genre until the end of their writing careers.  As a matter of fact, it was the last work to which Puccini set his pen. Although he intended the work to be part of a trilogy, this trilogy has often been broken up and this work, the most popular of the three one-act operas, has been wed to quite a number of other one-act operas. On Site Opera chose to present it alone which, given the discomfort of sitting with a mask over one's breathing organs, was a wise decision. Coming in at one hour it was just right, leaving the audience with (sadly invisible) smiles on their faces.

How was this delight achieved? To start with, Giovacchino Forzano's libretto, derived from an 1866 edition of Dante's Inferno (based on real 14th c. Florentine characters), pokes fun at the greed of a selfish family of "aristocrats" and also at the contempt they had for the rising "middle class". Now isn't that the kind of satire we can relate to today? Do we not also get a secret kick out of scoundrels getting away with bad behavior? And what about that very very valuable mule?? There is something truly hilarious about this family fighting over said mule!

Secondly, Puccini's music is filled with humor. We cannot say what makes music amusing but likely a musicologist could elaborate on the rhythms and recurrent motifs lacing the score that tickle the ear and bring a smile to the face. There is a wonderful contrast between the dirge-like music as the family pretends to be grieving, the frisky music of everyone rushing around to create their false scenario, and the romantic music for the lovers. Geoffrey McDonald's conducting of his chamber orchestra--strangely but effectively situated behind the audience--brought out every twist and turn of the score such that we heard things we had not noticed in prior hearings. 

Finally, It is the joyful attitude of the cast who seemed to revel in their creation of characters drawn somewhat from the commedia del'arte tradition. In the title role we had the rubber-faced Luis Ledesma whose fine baritone filled out the role as effectively as his shape filled out the apropos costume of a man climbing out of the peasant class by means of a sharp wit and a lack of compunction about breaking the law.

This seems a rather odd association but we kept thinking about Tony Soprano, a criminal who won over his audience by charm. He kept his dirty dealings from his daughters, much the way Schicchi protected Lauretta by sending her out to feed the birds whilst he schemed and set up his self-serving plot. In the character's way of thinking, he was providing for his daughter's future, even risking hell for himself. There is nothing odd about a parvenu marrying into an aristocratic family headed for impoverishment, as we observed in Il Gattopardo, taking place at the time of the Risorgimento.

As Lauretta we heard the charming soprano Laura León who interpreted her character as a sweet innocent girl who loves Rinuccio for who he is, wealth or no wealth. To her is granted the most famous aria of the opera "O mio babbino caro" which, in a master directorial stroke, she delivered standing on top of a trunk, allowing her not only a sense of importance but also permitted her to mime throwing herself into the Arno. The winsomeness of her presence and the clarity of tone and phrasing made this an unforgettable performance.

As Rinuccio, tenor John Riesen turned in a similarly winning performance. He was successful in winning over his nasty squabbling relatives with his finely tuned tenor in "Avete torto... Firenze è come un albero fiorito" as well as winning over the audience. His duet with Ms. León was particularly fine with their voices blending in well balanced fashion.

David Langan's resonant bass and haughty demeanor were just right for Simone in an interpretation that we had not witnessed previously. As Zita Patrice P. Easton created a formidable matriarch who tolerated no nonsense. The lower part of her register was just perfect and at one point she took the artistic risk of growling out her line and we couldn't keep from laughing out loud.  It was one of those perfect moments.

Often, in an ensemble work like this one, it is difficult to differentiate the characters. However, up close and personal as this was, we were able to discern their individuality. Simone's son Marco and his wife La Ciesca were portrayed by baritone Jonathan R. Green and mezzo-soprano Alexandria Crichlow.  Poor relation Betto was sung by Jay Louis Chacon. The roles of nephew Gherardo  and his wife Nella were well sung by tenor Michael Kuhn and soprano Sarah Beth Pearson. Their son Gherardino was portrayed as a bratty kid who didn't want to run an errand without getting paid. The voluptuous Savannah McElhaney acted the part well without quite convincing us that she was a 7-year-old boy.

The small parts were also well cast and well performed. Brian McQueen managed to differentiate Dottore Spinelloccio and the Notario Amantio. Pinellino the cobbler was played by David Kahng. The non-singing part of the dying Buoso Donati was played by Martin Pfefferkorn.

We are aware that Woody Allen set the work in a tenement which makes no sense whatsoever. Lots of liberties have been taken with the work. Bringing it into the mid 20th c. by means of the costuming (Susan Memmott Allred) worked OK. But we couldn't stop thinking how this century-old work was composed at the time of the tragic flu epidemic and how that relates to the present. But these connections are best made in the minds of the audience.

© meche kroop

Sunday, April 10, 2022



We have reviewed Heartbeat Opera's productions from its inception. We have often written "Our heart beats for Heartbeat Opera".  We have rushed home from their productions bursting with energy, eager to share their prodigious creativity with our readers.  Last night our heart went into arrhythmia; had Quando lasted another moment, we might have had a heart attack. In any case we are heartbroken.

We always like to begin our reviews with something we enjoyed about a production. The only positive thing about last night was the venue.  It is always fun to visit the McKittrick Hotel; the fellow who took us up in the elevator was pleasant.

We believe a work of art should stand on its own merit. Requiring a lengthy exegesis seems to portend disaster.  It's like trying to "explain" a painting.  You know the typical drivel from the Director' Notes--"The way I conceive this work is....yada yada yada".  "What I am trying to illustrate here is....yada yada yada".

There were, of course, note for the press. We generally don't read these, preferring instead to meet a work face on.  Either we "get" it or we don't. Well, dear reader, we did not. We were reminded of that species of "performance art" that is neither here nor there, but something existing in the self-absorbed mind(s) of the so-called creator(s). We decline to name the participants in this worthless production. They are probably filled with joy over the sold-out nature of the performances and we do not wish to rain abuse on their parade.

The performance began with a short film that made little sense, if any.  A  couple is sauntering down a dark street dressed in evening clothes. He thinks she is mysterious because she won't tell him her last name. They come close to an argument about protesting. She doesn't like his wealthy friends.  He tells her they are not friends, they just have "deep pockets".

Suddenly he urges her to pick up the pace. She dawdles spitefully, listening to a street performer playing a saxophone. He leaves her there.

A butler dressed in white is handing out white costumes to some people in their undies. One is wearing "tighty whities".  There seems to be some sort of protest with people carrying signs. There is an orgiastic quality.

The aforementioned woman arrives.  She and the aforementioned man sing some operatic arias, including a love duet from Verdi's La Traviata.  At this point, dear reader, we thought the idea was to expose members of the mostly young audience to opera, in which case the poor sound design did nothing to achieve the goal and did a disservice to the highly regarded singers who shall remain nameless. The woman appears to stab the man with what looks like a cello bow.  He bleeds from the mouth. The "protesters" were horrified. So were we.

There was a 5 minute intermission during which we went to the ladies rest room to eavesdrop. Young women were gossiping about their lives and no one said a word about the performance. We asked the young man sitting next to me what he thought.  "It's OK", was all he was willing to share. 

The performance resumed.  The women on the other side of me resumed their texting. The film was shown again and this time two characters called "Disruptors" made weird noises and hurled imprecations at the screen. The white haired woman banged the piano and played what seemed to be a flute. The young man banged on cymbals and scraped the edge of same with a bow. He cruised around the audience which remained impassive. The two reminded me of unruly schoolchildren. We felt like doing some disrupting of our own. Finally, we fled into the rainy streets, regretting the misuse of our Saturday night. 

Clearly, the "creators" wanted to say something but they failed abysmally to get their point across. If they were trying to skewer traditional opera, they only managed to send us running back to The Metropolitan Opera which, for all its flaws, does occasionally bring beauty into the world. Quando was produced in collaboration with Long Beach Opera and this was the world premiere. We cry "bullshit"!

© meche kroop

Saturday, April 9, 2022


Erik Bagger and Brittany Fowler 

An evening spent with New Camerata Opera is always interesting, entertaining, and valuable. Their latest entry into the world of intimate opera is a production of a one act opera by Kamala Sankaram with libretto by Rob Handel. The opera is called The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace and  it is obvious that infinite care was given to the evening in order to focus upon women. Additionally, the cast brought the story to life with infinite energy.

We confess we knew nothing about Ada Lovelace before last night; however, we spent infinite energy in learning about her since the work in question succeeded in arousing my curiosity. Lady Lovelace was the legitimate daughter of Lord Byron and his half-sister Annabella who left her husband and raised her daughter to be scientifically curious. The young girl was undoubtedly precocious and without benefit of formal education became quite a whiz at science and mathematics.

She married William Lord Lovelace and bore him three children whilst becoming the world's first computer programmer, mentored by Charles Babbage. The mid-18th c. saw impressive discoveries as well as impressive opera!  Sadly, Ada was sickly and died at the age of 36. Her story is an impressive one, particularly light of the fact that she was a woman without any formal training.

The opera focused on her relationship with those around her--her somewhat supportive husband, her importunate mentor, and her disgruntled housekeeper who bemoaned her neglect of her children. She came very close to abandoning the project with Babbage.

Another independent and talented woman was written into the libretto--Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the opera, she came to the Lovelace household to interview Ada about the family scandal. We were unable to find any evidence that this visit took place but we were so fascinated by the idea that this prominent abolitionist who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin also wrote the untold story of Lady Byron, written about extensively in the Atlantic in 1869. If she never visited Ada, she certainly had quite an involvement with Ada's mother.

The fact that the opera led us down this rabbit hole is evidence of a wise choice by New Camerata Opera. The story is indeed a compelling one and it is to the credit of the cast that we were so drawn in, in contrast with the stories of most contemporary operas that leave us uninspired.

We are quite sure that both casts are equally effective. The cast we saw impressed us by bringing the story to life. As the conflicted Ada Brittany Fowler created a forceful character, reminding us that talented women who reached beyond the boundaries of wifely and motherly duties to achieve something important are not unique to our own time.

As her husband Lord Lovelace, Erik Bagger gave a sympathetic portrayal of a husband who wa somewhat protective and mainly supportive, however threatened he may have been by his wife's closeness to her scientific mentor/partner Charles Babbage, portrayed by a most effective Virdell Williams. Barbara Porto turned in her typically superb performance as Harriet Beecher Stowe. Heather Michele was believably grumpy and critical as the disapproving nanny and Ryan Allais made a welcome appearance as the butler.

If we have paid more attention to the drama than to the music, let us amend that right away. Music Director Nell Flanders conducted the string quartet plus piano with precision. Unlike most contemporary operas, the music was kind to our ears and definitely supported the action; like most contemporary operas, the vocal lines were not particularly melodic but better than most. Every member of the cast sang well; it's just difficult for us to say much about phrasing and technique with the particular style of writing. The libretto was surely adequate. Our companion agreed with our opinion that what we saw was a play with music--a very good well acted play with adequate music.

We applaud Jennifer Williams for her fine direction, Lianne Arnold for the set design which gave equal measure to science and mathematical equations, and to Asa Benally for her apt costume design.  We refer you dear Reader to our Facebook Page--Voce di Meche--for photos.

The all-too-brief work was bookended by cabaret acts.  We failed to appreciate the pre-opera singing of English translations of songs by Fannie Mendelsohn which involved masked singers; it was impossible to appreciate the vocal technique or the words. The post-opera performances were delightful with  members of the company performing the unexpected. We particularly enjoyed Ryan Allais singing something from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, acrobatics by Heather Michele and Emily Solo, and Kristin Renee Young singing an aria from Berg's Lulu. Our apologies to those we left out.  As is common these days, there was no printed program.

It was not until we found some information by scanning the hashtag that we learned that composer Kamala Sankaram also wrote a piece we saw some years ago involving data-mining of the audience.  It was called Looking at You and it totally freaked us out!

© meche kroop

Friday, April 8, 2022


 Pablo Zinger, Verónica Villarroel, Sonia Olla, and Ismael Fernández

Last night found us at the stunning theater of El Museo del Barrio for an exciting evening of Spanish music presented by the newly reborn Opera Hispanica. It was an exciting evening for us, dear Reader, not just because of the thrilling performances, but because we were there at the original birth of Opera Hispanica some years ago, with Daniel Frost Hernandez at the helm. We were overwhelmed with excitement that New York City would have a company to bring Spanish music to the forefront of the cultural scene.

And now, with brilliant conductor Jorge Parodi at the helm, Opera Hispanica is receiving a timely rebirth, just when we need Spanish music the most. Two years of pandemic restrictions and isolation have left our populace low in spirits and what could be better than Spanish music to lift them from lethargy to passion!

The title of the program Y Volver (I will come back) is not only the title of one of the songs on the program (Jorge Ramón Lucero/María I Lo Forte) but also symbolic of the comeback of Opera Hispanica and the comeback of the arts in NYC.

Starring in this extravaganza were world renowned Chilean opera star Verónica Villarroel,  Spanish flamenco dancer Sonia Olla, Spanish cantaor Ismael Fernández, and Uruguayan pianist Pablo Zinger who used his multiplicity of talents to provide interesting commentary on the program as well as to accompany.  As Musical Director, he also arranged many of the selections.

Before telling about the program, let us mention the fine guitar work of Olli Hirvonen, the double bassist Pedro Giraudo, and the percussionist Danny Mallon. Yang Yu's lighting design comprised brilliantly colored washes on the rear screen that consistently set off the artists' costuming and set the mood. As far as Anthony Riveron's sound design, it is worth mentioning, since we have no affection whatsoever for amplification, that is was never overamplified.

The program itself demonstrated the wide variety of Spanish and Latin American music. Not only was the singing in crossover mode but also the instrumentals.  Boleros, tangos, canciones populares, and Spanish art song existed side by side and melded into a guisado deliciosa.

Regular readers could probably guess that our personal preference lay in the unamplified delivery of Carlos Guastavino's "La Rosa y el Sauce", a tender art song that never fails to touch our heart. We have no doubt that Ms. Villarroel's voice could have easily filled the theater without amplification for the entire evening which we would have preferred.

Each artist had at least one selection that was unforgettable. Isaac Albéniz' "Tango in D" was stunningly delivered by Mr. Zinger and Mr. Giraudo.  We think Mr. Zinger must have a special connection with Albeniz because his performance of "Cádiz" was performed with particular attention to a gorgeous recurrent theme that lingered in the ear.

Mr. Fernández' emotional performance of Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion" gave a flamenco slant to the tango master's composition,  accompanied by Mr. Zinger with Mr. Hirvonen's guitar solo capturing the ear.

Flamenco dance has long been a subject of our admiration but we have eschewed the sanitized over-choreographed performances that seem to have taken over the stage in recent years. We will probably never get to see a real tablao in a cave in Seville but Ms. Olla's performance surely satisfied our yen for authenticity. Her precise footwork was marked by rhythmic intensity; her arms were exquisitely expressive; the arch of her back was perfect. In one number she made great use of an enormous red mantoncillo--at first covering her entire body like a curtain and then swirling it around with great poetry of motion.

We always love the Canciones Españolas Antiguas which were arranged and popularized by Federico García Lorca; in this case they were jazzed up and amplified which may have pleased other members of the audience more than me.

Similarly, the romantic songs of the Mexican composer Maria Grever are among our favorites and we heard "Júrame" and the lovely "Te quiero dijiste".  Just the phrase "muñequita linda" gives us goosebumps. We would have preferred less jazziness. Still, we are always happy to witness a celebration of female composers. The program ended with the lovely "Gracias a la Vida" by Violeta Parra.

We have a quibble (when don't we?) that will not surprise our regular readers.  That quibble is the loathed music stand.  Just as amplification interferes with our auditory appreciation of a singer's natural voice, so does the music stand interfere with our visual connection. A phrase begins, we connect, the singer glances down, the connection is broken.  Just sayin'!

What we have seen and heard of Opera Hispanica' season has been exciting and rewarding. There is more to come and we refer you to www.operahispanica.org for details. 

© meche kroop