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.

Monday, April 29, 2013


The generosity of the Gerda Lissner Foundation in its support of young singers is extremely praiseworthy.  It was a pleasure to hear President Stephen De Maio being acknowledged by charming host Brian Kellow (Features Editor at Opera News) for all of his hard work.  This year's honoree was the beloved Bass-baritone Eric Owens.  The long list of awards testified to the success of the venture.  That we got to hear a baker's dozen of them sing yesterday was a major delight.  Some of them were new to our ears and others have been enjoyed on numerous past occasions.  All were excellent; the judges chose well.

We have space to mention a few of the highlights.  Soprano Deanna Breiwick tickled everyone's fancy with "Quel guardo il cavaliere" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale.  This young woman has beauty and stage presence as well as fine technique; she knows how to create a character and how to get a song across.  Her trill gives one a thrill.

Soprano Ying Fang, who gives a recital this afternoon at Juilliard, showed off some mighty fine embellishments and secure control of dynamics in "Prendi per me sei libero" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore.  We simply cannot get enough Donizetti, especially when sung this charmingly.

Continuing in the bel canto style, bass-baritone Jeongcheol Cha showed impressive flexibility and legato in "Vi Ravviso" from Bellini's La Sonnambula; tenor Juan Jose De Leon won us over with his "Si, ritrovarla, io giuro" from Rossini's La Cenerentola.  Bass-baritone Evan Hughes had all the right qualities for Dandini's aria "Come un'ape" from the same opera.

Massenet's "Letter Scene" from Werther was sung by mezzo Jennifer Johnson Cano with a rich tone, fine French diction and moving involvement with the text.  The grand finale comprised two arias from Leoncavallo's I Pagliaci sung by two of the Top Prize winners, both baritones.  Well known to us from recitals and several other competitions, consistent winner Takaoki Onishi once again dazzled us with his rich full sound, his variety of color and his depth of feeling as he sang Silvio's aria "E fra quest'ansie".  Truth to tell, we would have eloped with him in a minute!  Equally convincing was Anthony C. Evans who sang the prologue in mighty praiseworthy Italian and drew us in as any carnival barker might have.

We also heard some excellent work from tenor Noah Baetge and soprano Marcy Stonikas who took Wagner out for a whirl; tenor Dominick Chenes, soprano Chloe Moore, counter-tenor John T. Holiday, tenor Anthony Kalil and tenor Jonathan Winell were all a pleasure to hear.  Accompanists for the recital were Jonathan C. Kelly and Arlene Shrut. We predict excellent careers for all and wish everyone well.

© meche kroop

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