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.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Steven Blier and Friends
Steven Blier's artistic generosity and modest demeanor hide the fact that he is a most successful impressario; indeed his many NYFOS evenings have broadened our own appreciation for works at the fringes of the opera world.  Last night at Henry's on the Upper West Side,  he put together a delightful program of songs from operettas both native and foreign, using the wealth of talent available at The Juilliard School.  One would never suspect that the singers are students; we have seen and heard professionals whose talents fall way short of what we heard last night.  The good news is that next season Henry's will play host to an entire NYFOS series!

Raquel González portrayed the femme fatale in "Ich schenk' mein Herz" from Carl Millöcker's Die Dubarry, captivating the audience as well as the five gentlemen of the cast.  Next she sang a duet with Nathan Haller from Lehár's "Die lustige Witwe".  Miles Mykkanen sang "There Isn't One Girl in the World for Me" from Jerome Kern's Sitting Pretty, subtly coloring his timbre and varying his vibrato to sound like a recording of that period.

"Je suis Lazuli" from Chabrier's L'Etoile was sung in the best of French from the very French Virginie Verrez.  Philip Stoddard donned a silly rajah's turban for the amusing "Chant birman" from Messager's  L'Amour masqué; what was most remarkable was that he gave the rajah's nonsense language a French accent.  Absolutely hilarious.

Rachel Wilson infused her zarzuela number with a pinch of sazón; Barbieri's El barberillo de Lavapiés is a zarzuela we long to hear in its entirety.  A splendid duet with some lightning fast patter was performed by Kyle Bielfield and Davone Tines from another zarzuela entitled La del manojo de rosas by Sorozábal; it involved a humorous dispute between two men courting the same woman.

Simone Easthope sang "The Amorous Goldfish" from Sidney Jones' The Geisha and Kyle Bielfield sang "Je suis gai" from Offenbach's La Belle Hélène, perhaps the most famous of the operettas on the program.  The seasonal duet "April Snow" from Romberg's Up in Central Park was sung by Rachel Wilson and Nathan Haller.  The program ended with John Philip Sousa's humorous "Against the Spanish Army" from El Capitan.  Somehow we never knew that the famous composer of marches wrote an operetta!

Throughout this generous evening, Mr. Blier narrated from the piano, letting the audience in on the plot and characters.  It was just one of those evenings that you wish would never end.  Sadly, it is over and these talented performers are leaving for summer programs elsewhere.  But Mr. Blier is not going anywhere and we will be enjoying his exploration into unusual vocal music tonight and on May 13th.  You should as well!

© meche kroop

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