A fine Holiday Concert yesterday, given by the Marcello Giordani Foundation (an organization whose mission is exactly the same as our own) provoked some interesting thoughts. By what magic does a singer get onstage and sing an aria with no accompaniment other than a piano and evoke sets, lighting and all the drama surrounding the aria? Perhaps the "magic doesn't work" if you've never seen the opera but this recital comprised the arias we all know and love so the task was made easier. BUT, how does the singer put him/herself into the right frame of mind to achieve this magic? We welcome hearing from you.
Baritone David Pershall, appearing with permission from the Met, created the powerfully angry character of Enrico from Luci di Lammermoor and also the calming-down character of Zurga in Les Pecheurs des Perles, in which he caressed every syllable of the French language. Tenor Adam Bonanni took on the memory of Luciano Pavarotti in his "Una furtiva lagrima" and "Panis Angelicus". Soprano Courtney Johnson evoked all the shy innocence of Mimi without sacrificing her big round sound and ease with the top notes and later delighted us with Gounod's arrangement of Bach's "Ave Maria".
Korngold's atmospheric "Tanzlied" from Die Tote Stadt was performed by baritone Takaoki Onishi in fine German. His "O Carlo ascolta" impressed us with some very Italianate legato phrasing. Soprano Joelle Harvey made a very perky Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff and easily changed gears for "Rejoice Greatly" from Handel's Messiah. Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green (also "on loan" from the Met) was a deliciously crafty Don Basilio in Rossini's "La Calunia" and did a swell job of building up dramatic and musical tension. Later he performed Howard Swanson's "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" with poetry by Langston Hughes.
When soprano Vanessa Isiguen and tenor Marco Camerotta performed "O Soave Fanciulla" with beautifully blended voices, we had no trouble visualizing the drafty Parisian garret. We heard Mr. Camerotta later singing Adam's "O Holy Night" in French and in English!
Soprano Suzanne Vinnick has a sizable enough voice and spirit to convey Nedda's wish for freedom in "Stridono lassu" from Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci. Tenor Juan Jose de Leon was completely convincing as the prince in Rossini's La Cenerentola. He has a bright voice with lots of vibrato and handled the embellishments well. He closed the program with Ms. Vinnick singing "The Prayer" by C.B. Sager and D. Foster. The style was rather pop-y and the languages were Italian and English. The harmonies were delicious. It was easy to see how the pair won the Marcello Giordani Foundation Competition. Michael Fennelly ably accompanied all the singers.
(c) meche kroop