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.

Sunday, October 22, 2023


 Donghoon Kang, Yohji Daquio, John Viscardi, Sara Stevens, and Glenn Morton

Not even the stunning view across the East River could distract us from the fabulous French program presented by Classic Lyric Arts. CLA has, at present, summer programs of incomparable value in France, Italy, and The Berkshires, the latter focusing on the operas of Mozart. Graduates of these programs are showing off their acquired skills in theaters all over the world. One thinks of these programs as polishing the gems.

Yesterday's concert shed luminous light on the success of CLA's French program which provides an immersive experience for young singers who wish to up their game in French opera and mélodie. If this concert is accepted as evidence, the summer program in France has accomplished its objective beyond what one might hope for. The French language is notoriously difficult to master, largely due to the vowels, especially the nasal ones, and the necessity for long lines, almost free of the stresses one finds in English.

The program opened with CLA Artistic Director Glenn Morton accompanying Executive Director John Vicardi (a graduate of the programs from some years ago) in a moving performance of Henri Duparc's "Chanson triste". As staged by renowned director Daniel Isengart, the mood was fragrant with tristesse. This was no ordinary concert since each piece was lent dramatic impact and intent which augmented the very fine voices.

The gifted young pianist Xu Cheng accompanied the other singers in a program that seemed all too short. Most memorable were the following:  soprano Yohji Daquio singing Juliette's sparkling aria "Je veux vivre"  (from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette) with every ounce of impassioned young womanhood; baritone Donghoon Kang's  strutting demeanor as he created a formidable Escamillo, from Bizet's Carmen, capturing the hearts of the imaginary Spanish ladies (and perhaps those of the women in the audience as well); soprano Sara Stevens' performance of "Robert, toi que j'aime" from the rarely seen Meyerbeer opera Robert le diable.

We are glad that the collapse of Thaïs (Ms. Daquio) into the arms of Athanaël (Mr. Kang) from Massenet's Thaïs  was followed by the frisky "C'est l'amour" from Louis Ganne's Les Saltimbanques. The first brought us to tears and the second left us grinning from ear to ear.  And who doesn't love a happy ending!

© meche kroop

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