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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Mario Chang, Brandon Cedel and Ying Fang
Regular readers know by now how enthusiastic we are about members of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of The Metropolitan Opera. Three of them presented a dazzling recital last night in the Jackie Robinson Park, making the trek to Harlem a mere...walk in the park.  Our rapt attention was rewarded with a flood of favorites, arias we know and love and of which we never can get enough.  Unfortunately, singing out of doors dictates amplification but the singers did well in compensating for the distortion.  But the superb accompaniment by Bradley Moore was made to sound pretty awful.

Beautiful and glamorous Ying Fang, whose development we have observed all through her years at Juilliard, brought her multiple gifts to several arias and duets.  She evinces a flexible and diamantine coloratura with a fearless upper register, making elaborate embellishments sound like child's play; scale passages, trills and fioritura are tossed off with ease and seeming spontaneity. There is no doubting her musicality and phrasing.  These gifts are accompanied by an abundance of personal charm that audiences respond to with delight and wild applause.  She used her acting skills within the context of each aria or duet to create a believable character--the flirtatious Norina of Donizetti's Don Pasquale, a not so naive Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Handel's heroines, a Gilbert and Sullivan soubrette ("Poor wand'ring one" from The Pirates of Penzance) and an impassioned Maria from Bernstein's West Side Story.  Each wonderful, each different in color.

Barihunk Brandon Cedel (isn't that designation getting over-worked?) has been winning awards left and right and tonight's performance showed us why.  He has a sturdy and sizable bass-baritone that he uses with artistry and to great advantage.  He slipped easily from the humor of Leporello's "Catalogue Aria" into the louche seductiveness of Don Giovanni in "Là ci darem la mano"; he had no problem seducing Zerlina or the audience.  We were all of us ready to "andiam"!  He had low notes to spare for "Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni" from Bellini's La Sonnambula.  His performance of Copland's "Simple Gifts" was exactly that, unaffected and simple--simply moving.

Tenor Mario Chang got better as the evening moved along.  At first he seemed to be pushing his forte in the upper register, causing him to go sharp. The amplification was not kind.  But when he got to Sorozabal's "No puede ser" from La Tabernera del Puerto he sounded like the Mario Chang that we know and love with his warm tenor in firm hand.  He finished the program singing a lovely romantic duet with Ms. Fang, "Tonight" from Bernstein's West Side Story, sending us off into the dusk with happy faces.

© meche kroop

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