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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Julia Bullock (photo by Christian Steiner)
It is quite a thrill to see someone onstage at Carnegie Hall, someone whose growth you have witnessed from days at Juilliard, and to see her knock the socks off a different audience.  The lovely Julia Bullock has distinguished herself on the opera stage, as a recitalist and last night contributed her special talents to Broadway Classics at Carnegie Hall.

Her two songs were performed in her own personal style--sincere and authentic without a trace of calculation or pandering to the audience. Nor did we get a whiff of "crossover" affectation that makes opera singers sound pompous when they assay the popular repertory.  In fact she treated both songs with the same respect that she has treated operatic arias.  In Frederick Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night" from the 1956 My Fair Lady (lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner) her enthusiasm was so catching she made us want to get up and dance.  From Leonard Bernstein's 1957 opus West Side Story (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) she sang "Somewhere" with the deepest feeling of idealistic longing.  The beauty of her sound and musicality left no doubt that this artist can sing anything.

One further element that contributed to our pleasure was her careful use of the microphone.  We are seriously prejudiced against amplification and have no doubt that Ms. Bullock's superlative voice would have easily carried to the balcony without amplification; fortunately she knew how not to overwhelm or distort her beautiful natural sound.  Not so the other singers.  They did what Broadway singers are expected to do.  Cheyenne Jackson, Phillip Boykin and Carolee Carmello gave rather more calculated performances with lots of amplification and lots of emoting; it was just what the audience wanted.  Songs from West Side Story, Finian's Rainbow, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Candide, Porgy and Bess, Show Boat, Man of La Mancha, Kiss Me Kate, Les Misérables and Funny Girl were performed and the audience loved every one of the 90 minutes.

Craig Arnold conducted the New York City Chamber Orchestra, which was larger than a Broadway pit orchestra and yet never sounded quite "in tune" with the material they were playing.  The Manhattan Chorale sang the "Sabbath Prayer" from Fiddler on the Roof and the "Morning Hymn" from The Sound of Music as well as the Epilogue from Titanic.  A half-dozen dancers, choreographed by Sean McKnight, spun and twirled to the Overture to Candide.

It was a fine opportunity for folks who enjoyed mid-20th c. American Musical Theater to reconnect with their favorite songs; there was no shortage of audience appreciation.

© meche kroop

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