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 2, 2013


Mitchell Lyon, Bretton Brown, Elizabeth Sutphen
Once more, a "cocktail hour" spent at Juilliard was more intoxicating than a cocktail.  This "six à sept" was notable by the fact that it comprised only Italian canzone and that the singers were coached by Diego Tornelli.  When all of the actors in a play are terrific, we generally acknowledge the brilliance of the director.  When all the singers are terrific, some credit must go to the coach.

The lovely soprano Elizabeth Sutphen opened the program, along with her collaborative pianist Bretton Brown, singing Rossini's "L'invito"; she has a fine vibrato in her voice with an open-throated upper register and a warm sincere stage presence.  In Ponchielli's "Piangea", Robynn Quinnett's violin wept along with the sad text.  In Ponchielli's "Eternamente", Mitchell Lyon's cello made some beautiful harmonies with her voice.  We have enjoyed witnessing Ms. Sutphen's growth as an artist on her way through Juilliard.

The same could be said for tenor Nathan Haller, whose piano partner was Valeriya Polunina.  He gave a rather subdued performance of Verdi's "Non t'accostare all'urna", a song of bitterness that we have cherished as one of Verdi's best songs; he was absolutely undaunted by the low notes, starting pianissimo and building to a passionate crescendo.  He followed up with some Tosti songs; we thought that "Ideale" suited his voice perfectly and observed a deep connection with the text and a sustained mood.  In Respighi's "Invito alla danza", he loosened up and evinced a lot of charm.

Also on the program were some singers we had not heard before but hope to hear again.  Tenor Hyunho Yoo, accompanied by Miles Fellenberg, sang Cimara's "Non più" with a sweet sound and legato phrasing.  He also sang a few songs by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, our favorite of which was "Al tè", a charming song with a lighthearted text describing conversation around a tea table.  But we noticed the most connection with the text when Mr. Yoo sang about nature, as in Davico's "O maggio bello" in a later set.  Mr. Fellenberg shone in Campogalliani's "Piangete occhi".

Also new to us was mezzo Avery Amereau who sang early 20th c. canzone by Santoliquido.  Ms. Amereau has a true mezzo sound, and a most agreeable one at that, in contrast with many young mezzo-sopranos who tend to sound like sopranos with low notes.  We liked the way her voice opened up when she sang the passionate "L'incontro".  Her pianist was Art Williford and they worked well together.

The program closed with baritone Elliott Hines, accompanied by Siyi Fang who has a lovely delicate touch, performing songs from several different periods.   Calestani's 17th c. "Accorta lusinghiera" was the earliest and Castelnuovo-Tedesco's charming "Nova angeletta" the most modern.  Mr. Hines seemed as comfortable with the baroque as with the "modern".  The final work on the program was Schubert's "Il traditor deluso"; had we not read the program we would never have recognized Schubert's compositional hand.  What a surprise!

We left Paul Hall feeling as if we'd taken a course in the history and evolution of canzone.  We also observed the value of having the singer do his/her own translations.  This was a real Halloween treat, the only "trick" being the Schubert!

© meche kroop

No comments:

Post a Comment