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.

Friday, June 2, 2023



Carl DuPont, Gustavo Feulien, Inna Dukach, Gregory Turay, Elizaveta Ulakhovich, and Alexander Boyd

It is only three weeks since we last saw Puccini's heartbreaking masterpiece but La Bohême always offers fresh insights. Last night, at an outdoor performance in a very crowded Bryant Park, we took a macroscopic view of the story as an indictment of a society that doesn't care very well for its young and the ill. We didn't need modern dress or veiled references to any modern "plagues" to achieve such a realization. It happened because the direction was led by the music and the text without any directorial arrogance or program notes about the "concept". Costumes were of the period and the minimal set pieces let us know we were in the 19th c.

This by no means intends to shortchange the microscopic view--that of feckless youth  forming instant relationships without consideration of common values, future plans, or compatibility.  There are little moments that stand out. Consider the self-styled "artist" whose works don't sell, a writer who ekes out a modest living writing articles for a magazine, a philosopher who can barely afford to buy used books, and a musician who plays for a parrot. Who cannot help but think of contemporary times when young hopefuls share apartments in slums, living on ramen packages! To make matters worse, they are rarely covered by health insurance. La plus ça change, la plus c'est la meme chose!

 Yet it is perceived by the public as a "love story";  but it is also about the loss of innocence. At the end of the opera, this group of youths will be forever changed. Perhaps Musetta and Rodolfo will be inspired to love better. Perhaps some of them will look for jobs. The libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa does not tell us, nor did the episodic novel written by Henri Murger. So we are free to form our own speculations. What a rich work that can be appreciated on so many level!

In this abridged production by New York City Opera (The Peoples's Opera!) several scenes were cut, but Director Michael Capasso took the stage as narrator and described what had happened that wasn't shown. We completely understand the challenges of cutting the opera to fit into a time frame and to suit the interests of a crowd in which many members were not hard core opera fans. We can only hope that some of them were sufficiently enchanted to seek out a complete performance. Although the Metropolitan Opera has replaced so many of its magnificent productions with disappointing ones, it would be a grave mistake to ditch the impressive Zeffirelli production with its lavish second act Xmas Eve scene or the snow falling quietly and merchants passing through the city gates when Mimi leaves the city to find Marcello in the third act.

My companion for the evening is a theater and film director and an opera "newbie"; we wanted his opinion on the dramatic aspects. Since there were no titles and no summary, we wondered whether the story was told as clearly as we thought. He definitely got the gist of things, thanks to the effective stage direction; however he made an interesting suggestion that narration could have been better accomplished by having one of the minor characters narrate the story. Also it would have been better to hear the plot before the scene, not afterward.

All things considered, the singers did a fine job of storytelling. Soprano Inna Dukach made a most sympathetic Mimi and tenor Gregory Turay was a most ardent Rodolfo. We are personally uncomfortable with amplification and are never sure we are hearing the voices as they are meant to be heard. We were rather delighted with Mr. Turay's pianissimi but not so delighted with his forcing the volume in the upper register. Perhaps it is just not possible to float the high notes under such circumstances but we do not know enough about sound design to say so.

Soprano Elizaveta Ulakhovich gave a splendid performance as Musetta but, due to the elimination of the populous café scene, she was obliged to sing her show-stopping "Quando m'en vo" to a man recruited from the audience instead of flirting with the café customers and soldiers. So, we had a bit of audience involvement.

Her love-hate relationship with Marcello was well realized and baritone Gustavo Feulien filled out his role as well as one could have hoped. To complete the group of bohemians we had Carl DuPont as the philosopher Colline and Alexander Boyd as the only member of the group who seems to find employment. To those who know the opera, the story of his being hired to play for a parrot brings a moment of comic relief; even funnier is the fact that his three flatmates are so famished that they can only focus on the victuals he has provided and completely ignore the story. There wasn't room for much comic relief in this production and we missed the way the four youths put one over on their landlord Benoit when he comes to collect the rent.

Fortunately Colline's Act IV aria "Vecchia zimarra" was not cut so we enjoyed the low voice of Mr. DuPont and appreciated the symbolism of his sacrifice. As most of you already know, Dear Reader, he pawns his old overcoat to buy medicine for the dying Mimi. He too is "adulting".

Of course, the scene that sets the drama in motion is the first act meeting between Rodolfo and Mimi in which Rodolfo gets Mimi to stay by hiding her key and she gets Rodolfo to take her out for dinner with the hint of more to come later. So much subtext in one scene! So reminiscent of 21st c. dating! Still, the music tells us only of their rapturous feelings.

Speaking of the music, we found the aural balance to be wanting and there were a couple occasions of feedback. Maestro Joseph Rescigno did his best with a chamber orchestra which played at ground level (of course) in front of the slightly elevated stage. These are the hazards of outdoor opera and we will not make harsh judgments of the orchestral balance.

As a matter of fact, we recall the long ago productions of The Metropolitan Opera in Central Park every summer which were abandoned in favor of concerts of arias. We recall laying blankets out at sunrise in order to sit in the first "row"; we remember asking the police officers in attendance how they enjoyed the opera (very much so), and how grateful and uncritical we were. So, in that spirit, we thank the artists who brought this production to the public free of charge and hope that a few converts to opera were made.

© meche kroop

Thursday, May 25, 2023



John Viscardi, Brooke Jones, Yeong Taek Yang, Reed Gnepper, Jason Hwang, Monique Galvāo, Temple Hammen, Laura Soto-Bayami, Xu Cheng, and Maestro Michelle Rofrano

There was that splendid view of the Hudson River but no one was looking. Every pair of eyes and ears were drinking in the magic of young singers sharing their artistry with supporters of Classic Lyric Arts. A few years from now, these audience members are going to be boasting about having heard this artistry before these promising artists will have achieved fame.

Classic Lyric Arts is renowned for guiding young singers by means of intensive immersion programs in France, Italy, and the Berkshires, programs that serve to polish these gems. Artistic Director Glenn Morton is famed for his work coaching aspiring opera singers at all three Manhattan music conservatories; Executive Director John Viscardi, a gifted tenor himself, is a graduate of the programs. The cast of last night's gala comprised both graduates of the programs and some who have been selected to attend this summer. The feeling in the room was one of being with family.

The generous program began with soprano Laura Soto-Bayomi (recently reviewed as star of the zarzuela Luisa Fernanda) and Mr. Viscardi performing "Libiamo" from Verdi's La Traviata,  getting the evening off to a rousing and celebratory start. Later in the program we got a deeper exposure to Violetta in "Sempre libera" as she contemplates a romantic relationship with the importunate Alfredo. All the right emotional highs were hit-- from loneliness, the promise of a loving future, and the rejection of same in favor of a life of pleasure. The necessary vocal technique was all there, including the vocal fireworks of the cabaletta.

No stranger to passionate Italianate singing, Mr. Viscardi would go on to sing De Curtis' "Non ti scordar di me" with admirable dynamic variation. We could have listened to lots more but there were other delights to be heard.

Gastaldon's "Musica proibita" is new to us and we loved the deep emotionality conveyed by baritone Yeong Taek Yang, emotion supported by the same splendid technique we noted in his performances at Manhattan School of Music. He was equally impressive in the prologue to Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, as he invites the audience to the upcoming show in a manner so persuasive that no one could have refused. His voice is especially enchanting in the pianissimi.

The romantic cabaret style of Francis Poulenc's "Les chemins de l'amour" was beautifully captured by Brooke Jones who showed another side of her artistry in a trio from Giancarlo Menotti's Amelia al ballo. The lighthearted trio "Chi può saper?" included tenor Reed Gnepper and baritone Jason Hwang as lover and husband. There was a perfect balance between the three voices joined in happy harmony.

Soprano Temple Hammen tackled the challenging "Song to the Moon" from Dvorak's Russalka and did so with gorgeous phrasing. Her "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi was equally pleasing with a sensitively rendered crescendo that served to build the emotional impact.

Mezzo-soprano Monique Galvāo has one of those distinctively textured voices, unlike so many mezzo-sopranos who leave one wondering whether they are really sopranos. This is augmented by some fearless acting that left no doubt that Dalila would seduce Samson in "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" for which Camille Saint-Saëns wrote the most seductive melody. She evinced the same stunning vocalism in Eric Satie's "La diva de l'empire", but created a very different character. It is always a pleasure to witness a singer with a feel for the character.

An evening would not be complete without the crowd-pleasing duet "Au fond du temple saint" from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles. Mr. Gnepper and Mr. Hwang harmonized beautifully and had a fine rapport. We loved the way that they conveyed through their eyes and bodily gestures that they were both staring at their love object.

Accompanist for the evening was the wonderful pianist Xu Cheng whose playing we particularly enjoyed in the Dvorak and the Saint-Saëns. Ensembles were finely conducted by Maestro Michelle Rofrano who has recently become a welcome member of the CLA family.

It was music to our ears to learn that the Musician's Emergency Fund joined Amy Hausknecht and Karen Kelley in their support of this delightful Spring Soirée. We didn't want the evening to end!

© meche kroop

Sunday, May 21, 2023



(at left)  Toni Marie Palmertree

(Photo by meche kroop)

(at right)  Eric Botto and Madison Marie McIntosh

(photo by meche kroop)

Gaetano Donizetti's 1833 opera Lucrezia Borgia was given an impressive concert performance last night at The Center at West Park. With musical values this strong, it should have been staged at The Metropolitan Opera. Why is this bel canto masterpiece so rarely staged? Was Victor Hugo's play (on which Felice Romani based his libretto) too shocking by its incestuous hints? Are the lead roles too difficult to cast?

We do believe we saw it at Caramoor about 10 years ago with Angela Meade in the challenging title role. We don't recall sets so perhaps it was also in concert version. The opera has everything one would wish for in a bel canto opera--a melodramatic plot (very loosely based on history), engaging melodic aspects, interesting orchestration, and opportunities for superstar singers. Last night's performance met all those requirements from the opening percussive rumbles and horn declarations to the final tragic finale.

Maestro Keith Chambers elicited a superlative performance from his orchestra and the roles were sung as grandly as one would wish for. As the titular anti-heroine, Toni Marie Palmertree dazzled with fioritura fireworks and sensitively colored her voice to suit the various circumstances--from tenderness toward her son to firmness toward her husband. The vocal lines flowed like warm honey. The vibrato filled the sanctuary with overtones.One could not have wished for a better performance in this treacherous role.

As Gennaro, her illegitimate son who had been raised apart from his ill-reputed mother, we heard tenor Eric Botto who filled out his role nicely. Unaware of  Lucrezia's identity and having been warned of her dangerous nature, his approach to her was wary.  But when singing with his friend Maffio Orsini. his voice wa colored with warmth. When there are no sets and costumes to help the story along, and when audience members do not wish to distract themselves from the singing to look at titles on their cell phones, these vocal colorations assume an outsize importance. We particularly enjoyed his duets with Orsini.

Which brings us to the remarkable performance of mezzo-soprano Madison Marie McIntosh as Maffio Orsini. She excelled at creating a character, an important character by virtue of his closeness to Gennaro. The vocal colors that we so appreciated were augmented by meaningful facial expressions and gestures that defied the limiting aspects of the concert style production and the presence of the music stand. We couldn't help wanting to know more about Orsini's friendship with Gennaro. But that could be another opera! This artist has an enormous range and can dazzle with her upper extension and then wow us with husky low notes. We loved the accuracy of the embellishments and skips.

As the jealous husband, Don Alfonso, Duca di Ferrara, bass Eric Lindsey made a fine showing with growling low notes and an effective pianissimo As his confidant Rustighella, tenor James Danner made the most of a small but vital role.

The group of hotheaded young nobles who set the story in motion (by deleting the letter "B" in the Borgia family crest) was played by  four fine singers who held their own individually as well as in the ensembles. Tenors Scott Rubén La Marca and Pedro Barrera took the roles of Jeppo Liverotto and Oloferno Vitellozzo, respectively. Baritone Wilbert Kellerman sang the role of Ascanio Petrucci and bass-baritone Nate Mattingly took the role of Don Apostolo Gazella. Although it may not have been appropriate in this concert version, we longed for some differentiation of character. Nonetheless, the harmonies were deftly handled.

We enjoyed the lively chorus as well as they contributed to the musical texture. The score and orchestral parts were supplied by Maestro Eve Queler who must have conducted the work with her Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall but that was probably before our time. It is indeed a pity that this opera has been so overlooked. The music is melodic and memorable.  And yet, the only piece that we heard before was the Brindisi "Il segreto per esser felice" and it is this piece that is running through our head!

© meche kroop

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


 Eric McKeever as Michele
(photo by Dan Wright Photography)

Giacomo Puccini's Il Trittico comprises three one-act operas. We have seen all three on one long evening and we have seen them separately, often paired with other one-act operas. Recently we have seen Gianni Schicchi , a comedy, and Suor Angelica, a tragedy of victimhood. Last night we saw Il Tabarro, a drama of thwarted love and revenge, presented in riveting fashion by On Site Opera, a company we revere for fitting the opera to the setting,

This has always been the least loved one of the three operas and we confess to not really getting it until last night, staged on the Lightship Ambrose (subbing for a barge), docked at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport. Singers moved up and down the gangplank carrying heavy loads. Women gathered around the song-seller to acquire the latest sheetmusic. The realism of the setting served to amplify the realismo of the opera. 

As in Leoncavallo's earlier work Pagliacci, a man is rejected by his wife and finds revenge in murder, a story that must have resonated with audiences at the turn of the 20th c.  Come to think of it, one has only to read newspapers to know that the "plot" still exists, although crimes of passion are, in these days, more likely to be accomplished secretly. Fortunately we were not exposed to ridiculous attempts at modernization. Costuming was accurate and served to reinforce the sense of time and place.

Director Laine Rettmer did a superb job of telling the story and Maestro Geoffrey McDonald utilized the smallish orchestra in a manner that supported the singers and yet amplified the emotions of the characters when there was a lull in the singing. Speaking of amplification, we realize it was necessary in a noisy outdoor environment and we credit the sound design for keeping a fine balance. We heard from one of the singers that each singer heard differently and standing in different places often left the singer unaware of the volume. This makes the success doubly impressive. The loss of sound of unamplified voices was more than compensated by the achievement of reality.

Baritone Eric McKeever was outstanding as the captain of the barge, projecting a sense of kindliness both toward the stevedores in his employ and toward his wife, with whom he once shared tender loving moments. He succeeded in arousing our sympathy.  What could be more damaging to a man's sense of masculinity than having his embraces rejected by his wife. 

Soprano Ashley Milanese was fine in this role and also succeeded in arousing our sympathy as she sings of the child that died. Perhaps that was what destroyed the love she once shared with Michele. As she recalls her lovely home in suburban Paris and shares these reminiscences with Luigi, her stevedore lover who came from the same banlieu, we come to appreciate the bond between them and what Luigi represents to her.

The role of Luigi was well handled by tenor Yi Li who struggled with his passion for his boss' wife. Giuseppe Adami's libretto never makes him out to be a villain, just a man led around by his sexual passions who found a partner to return his lust.

With the major roles of this love triangle so effectively portrayed, one could also make note of the success of the subsidiary roles. Jose Heredia injected some humor and fine singing in the role of the bibulous Tinca, one of the stevedores who tries to dance with Georgetta and steps on her toes.

The other stevedore Talpa was sung by Artega Wright who, in contrast with Michele and Georgetta, seems to have a reciprocal relationship with his wife La Frugola, played with marvelous low voice and comic spirit by Sharmay Musacchio. The scene in which she distributes the many treasures of her dumpster diving  served to lighten the atmosphere.

There was a wonderful moment in which the Song Seller distributed sheet music to the gathering milliners and the orchestra played a theme from Puccini's masterwork La Bohême in which we just last week heard Mr. Heredia as Rodolfo! In any event, that Puccini was a clever devil!

Let us now name the members of The Ensemble who contributed so much vocally and dramatically, some of whom we have heard singing at our local conservatories or at competitions. Sopranos Yohji Daquio, Lindsey Kanaga, Theodora Siegel, and Kiena Williams; mezzo sopranos Claire Coven and JoAnna Vladyka; Tenor Daniel Rosenberg; Baritone Paul LaRosa; and bass Brian McQueen.

From the moment the opera began we were totally engaged. There was not a single longueur. It was as if a real event was unrolling before our very eyes and ears. It was an event to remember and cherish.

© meche kroop


 Patrick Kilbride, Hannah De Priest, and Jonathan Woody 
Pergolesi's La servante maïtresse

Opera Lafayette's annual visit from Washington D.C. is always cause for celebration and the thunderous applause at the end of this week's visit manifested the high esteem in which they are held by their New York audience. This year's theme focused on Madame Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, radical, and patroness of the arts. Three events explored her influence upon and appreciation of mid-18th c. music. Sadly, prior commitments prevented us from attending the first two evenings but we made up for it in our own appreciation of the final evening.

We know of no other company that puts such a premium on scholarship, presenting artistic works in a socio-political context. The 120-page program book, fronted by a beautiful portrait of Mme. Pompadour, was thoroughly researched and highly educational. The pre-opera lecture, given by Dr. Julia Doe from Columbia University's Department of Music, was as engaging as it was instructive. The composer of the evening, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, lived only a quarter of a century but his contributions altered the course of musical evolution. A precocious musical genius, he studied in Naples and brought his fresh direct simplicity to Paris. He died of tuberculosis but achieved posthumous fame. Many compositions claimed to be of his authorship but in fact he composed only thirty.

One of these was a one-act comic opera called La Serva Padrona, meant to be a "palate cleanser" in between the acts of an opera seria. However, it achieved fame outside of Europe and was translated into French and known as La servante maîtresse. This is what we saw and heard last night as a stand alone work followed by a tragedy-- about which more later.

In this comedic bonbon, the wealthy bourgeois Pandolfe (bass-baritone Jonathan Woody) is manipulated by his servant Zerbine (Hannah De Priest) into marrying her. The backstory is that he had procured her from her family and raised her to serve him; she was strong-willed and bossy toward his manservant Scapin (Patrick Kilbride) and resistant to serving Pandolfe. She finally succeeds in getting his "proposal" by enlisting the services of Scapin who impersonated a most unsuitable suitor, making Pandolfe feel jealous but also protective of her. It is a silly trifle with echoes of commedia dell'arte but the music is gorgeous. Maestro Ryan Brown, the Artistic Director of Opera Lafayette, conducted with fine attention to detail and the balance of instrumentation among the strings, a pair of French horns, a bassoon, and a harpsichord.

Much credit goes to Director Nick Olcott who kept the action moving and who provided translation of the text with spoken dialect in clever rhyming couplets. This struck us as a genius move which contributed to the fine French singing and on point acting. Marsha LeBoeuf's costume design was perfectly a propos and inventive to the point that when Zerbine gets "promoted" from servant to wife, she removes her serving apron to reveal an elegant dress. There are more photos of the production to be found on our Facebook page Voce di Meche. Lest you think that simplicity eliminated vocal decoration, let us reassure you that we relished every bit of fioritura It was thoroughly enjoyable.

Jacob Ashworth, Sarah Mesko, and Gwendoline Blondeel

Tragedy followed comedy after intermision. Pergolesi's  Stabat Mater comprises a dozen sections dealing with the effects of the crucifixion on Jesus' mother Mary. That Pergolesi managed to give each section a different mood and color is testament to his genius. The work was sensitively sung by soprano Gwendoline Blondeel and mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko. Ms. Mesko, unlike so many mezzo-sopranos who are barely distinguishable from sopranos, has a richly textured mezzo sound that had us mentally casting her as Carmen and Dalilah. We were not at all surprised, when we got around to reading the program notes, to learn that Carmen is one of her signature roles. The gorgous voices of these two women were blended together in a few duet sections adding even more interest. The work was successfully conducted by Concertmaster Jacob Ashworth, known to us from his work with Heartbeat Opera. 

It was a very special evening in both conceptionn and execution. Were we to have a flute of champagne at hand, we would raise it to toast Opera Lafayette!

© meche kroop

Monday, May 15, 2023



Malena Galán (photo by meche kroop)

Graduation recitals are usually pretty exciting, especially if you have watched the graduating singer develop over a period of time. The singer develops the program and gets the stage with whomever she chooses to share with. It is an opportunity to show off what one has learned over the past four years and to exhibit as much variety as one chooses. 

At this concert given by mezzo-soprano Malena Galán, graduating from Manne School of Music, we heard accompaniment on the piano by Youngmo Na and Aleksandar Hadžieski, Helen Wyrick on the guitar, Elias Ludlam on flute, Carlos Pino on string bass, as well as by a string quartet comprising Salome Lamidze, Zoe Lo, Sofia Machuca, and Beatriz Sardón Martin, 

The recital was a most audience-pleasing survey of her multiple areas of artistry, covering not only art songs in English, German, French, Spanish, and what we think was Ladino-- but also some musical theater and tango. All were enjoyable.

There is one thing that differentiates Ms. Galán's stage presentation and that is a complete comfort with the audience, manifested by a welcoming and engaging manner. We felt as if she were a guest in our home introducing each song.

English may not be our favorite language for singing but Purcell's "Music for a While" was a great opener, showing an artist who isn't afraid of emoting. As a matter of fact, that quality was present in every selection, making each song into a mini-aria. That is the gift of "story-telling". The imagery comes alive in a most engaging fashion.

In the German section, "Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht" from Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, we felt like a child listening to a folk tale. In contrast, Schubert's "Ständchen" was filled with ardent mature longing.

In the French section we particularly enjoyed a most convincing "Maman, dîtes-moi" a cute ditty about a girl experiencing the pangs of first love.

Ou favorite in the Italian section was the familiar "Voi che sapete",  sung by the very hormonal Cherubino to the Countess in Mozart' Nozze di Figaro. We could just see the youth with all his diffident gestures and bravado.

The hit of the musical theater section was Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are", thankfully sung with simplicity and sincerity. (We never cared for the jazzed up version). We liked the sad song of a disappointed lover from Manuel Valls' Canciones Sefarditas.

Unfortunately, we had to leave before the concluding songs from Argentina, Ms. Galán's homeland. It was not such a great loss because we have a persistent memory of our introduction to the artist at a concert at the Argentinian Consulate organized by fellow Argentinian Maestro Jorge Parodi in which we acquired a great appreciation for those songs.

Between then and last night we had the pleasure of seeing this young artist in a Mannes production of Cavalli's La Calisto. It will be interesting to see where she goes next. A mezzo-soprano with a smoky lower register and firmly supported tone could occupy the world of opera, cabaret, or musical theater.  We eagerly await further developments.

We can never end a review without a quibble and here it comes. The German needs work.  Like so many American singers, there is so much fear of mispronouncing the final consonants that they get left off to the point where the word makes no sense.  Let's get friendly, singers, with "ich" and "ig" and other endings!

© meche kroop

Thursday, May 11, 2023


 Honoree Adam Guettel and 2023 Award Rccipients

Career Bridges has been providing assistance to young opera singers for 19 years, far longer than we have been writing about them. Career Bridges provides mentoring, support, and performance opportunities to singers at the early stages of their careers, assistance lasting for three years, bridging the period between education and professional life.  Co-Founders David Schuyler Bender and his lovely wife Barbara Meister Bender are unique in being a beautiful "power couple" who are busy putting good into the world. Their goals are consonant with our own and we are proud and pleased to spread the word.

Tuesday night we were thrilled to be in attendance at this year's gala, held at 
The Metropolitan Club. Guests comprised not only luminaries of the opera world, donors who fund the program, and a number of voice students who no doubt hope to have Career Bridges' help in their future.

Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award was Joan Dornemann, famed vocal coach and Artistic Director of The International Vocal Arts Institute (of which we are a great fan). Many of us know her from her work at The Metropolitan Opera. We recall first meeting her as she conducted a coaching of Olga Makarina for her role as Mimi. Hearing her speak about getting her start as a prompter was most engaging.

Honored with a Distinguished Achievement Award was composer/lyricist/teacher Adam Guettel whose 2005 musical Light in the Piazza has remained in our memory. His projects are many and eagerly anticipated.

The young singers, accompanied by Musical Director Ted Taylor, were of uniformly high quality. Strangely there was only one male but we will put the ladies first. Let's begin with the sopranos, of which there were eight. They were all excellent in the same way--polished performers whose vocal technique was notable. If some of them sounded too much like each other, they will soon develop their own individual colors. That's what advanced training accomplishes.

Natalia Gonzalez-Santaliz performed "Chacun le sait" from Donizetti's La fille du regiment with a bright perky sound,  making a fine Marie. Seongeun Park made a lovely Nanetta, impressing us with her trill in "Sul fil d'un soffio etesio" from Verdi's Falstaff. Abigail Raiford exhibited the requisite bell-like tones in "Ou va la jeune Hindoue" from Delibes' Lakmé. We enjoyed the precision in  the affecting upper register of the devilishly difficult "O zittre nicht" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, performed by Kira Kaplan.

Other sopranos chose arias that showed off voices with a bit more heft. We are not familiar with Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar' Bride but Hana Lobel-Torres sang the aria "Ivan Gergeitch" with an interesting vibrato and texture. The same could be said for Kristin Gillis' performance of "Glück, das mir verblieb" from Korngold's Die tote Stadt, which she made her own. 

The huge but flexible soprano of Marieke de Koker was just right for "Tacea la notte placida" from Verdi's Il Trovatore. This stunning performance was a bonus and not in the program. We wouldn't have missed it for the world.

We also liked the mezzo-sopranos and their choice of material. Maggie Renée gave a highly dramatic performance of the witch's aria from Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, calling to mind Jamie Barton's Jezibaba in Dvorak's Russalka. (It's so much fun to perform evil characters!)  Junyue Gong's Carmen benefitted from good pacing and a sense of time and place in the "Seguidilla". "O ma lyre immortelle" from Gounod's Sapho was sung with deep feeling by Chelsea Laggan. Tackling some Wagner was Shanley Horvitz, singing "Geliebter! Komm' sieh' dort die Grotte" from Tannhaüser. We liked her German and the seductive quality.

Our sole male voice belonged to baritone Kevin Godinez who gave Ford's aria "È sogno? O realtà" from Falstaff an excellent reading. The evening ended with Mr. Godinez leading the ensemble in a rousing performance of  "The Impossible Dream" from Leigh's Man of La Mancha. This choice was rather ironic since it seems to us that the night' young artists have possible dreams, made possible by Career Bridges.

Let us not forget to share one final performance--that of Meghan Picerno who sang one of our favorite arias--"Glitter and Be Gay" from Bernstein's Candide, a marvelous work that has been fought over by both Broadway camp and opera camp. We call it an opera.

© meche kroop