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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Steven Blier
When Steven Blier puts a program together, one is assured of an entertaining and artistically valid evening.  Such was the case last night when The New York Festival of Song joined with Juilliard for an evening of arias, duets and ensembles from the world of operetta.  One doesn't get to hear much operetta these days and we hope that the excitement generated by this sampler program will result in some productions of entire operettas.

Nine singers from Juilliard's Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts captured the light-hearted spirit of these tuneful numbers, written by Franz Lehar, Jacques Offenbach, Jerome Kern, Sigmund Romberg, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Sullivan and others.  Sopranos Simone Easthope and Raquel Gonzales were joined by mezzo-sopranos Virginie Verrez and Rachael Wilson.  Tenors Kyle Bielfield, Nathan Haller and Miles Mykkanen along with baritone Philip Stoddard and bass-baritone Davone Tines completed the company.

Not only was the singing exemplary but we had an opportunity to witness other gifts possessed by these promising artists.  Davone Tines surprised us with some fine fiddling in Emmerich Kalman's "Mein alter Stradivari" from Der Ziguenerprimas.  Kyle Bielfield distinguished himself as a happy hoofer when he led the ensemble in "Je suis gai, soyez gai!" from Offenbach's La Belle Helene.

Our favorite romantic duet was "Schon wie die blaue Sommernacht" from Lehar's Giuditta.  Simone Easthope was compellingly Iberian in "Yo quiero a un hombre" from Caballero's El Cabo Primero.  Mr. Bielfield and Mr. Tines were hilarious in the slapstick "Quien es uste?" from Sorozabal's La del Manojo de Rosas.  We loved Rachael Wilson's performance of "Cancion de Paloma" from Barbieri's El Barberillo de Lavapies.  Her romantic duet with Mr. Haller, "April Snow" from Romberg's Up in Central Park was equally wonderful.  Ms. Easthope was winsome as "The Amorous Goldfish" from Sidney Jones' The Geisha.

The Gilbert and Sullivan entries from Princess Ida and Iolanthe (done as an encore) could have used some crisper diction, as well as Sondheim's "A weekend in the country" from A Little Night Music.  A pair of pianos were perfectly played by Mr. Blier and Michael Barrett.  Percussionist Andrew Stenvall contributed some fine sounds.  Mary Birnbaum served as Stage Director and the delightful choreography was attributed to Jeanne Slater.  The entire evening felt like a gift one didn't expect.  Like Oliver, we felt like asking for MORE!

(c) meche kroop

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