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.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Carlos Monzon, Madison Marie McIntosh, Elias Notas, Alexandra LoBianco, Zhanna Alkhazova, William Browning, Kian Freitas, Benjamin Robinson

The Martha Cardona Theater was established four years ago by Daniel Cardona with a mission of producing opera for the people at affordable prices and providing opportunities for young singers.  We just now discovered them when we were invited to review their concert version of Mozart's Don Giovanni; in view of the excellence of this production we now consider ourselves a fan.  The eight singers were excellently chosen, as was the conductor Tyson Deaton and the accompanist Tristan Cano who capably dealt with the many different styles of music Mozart saw fit to  lavish upon this tale of a rogue who meets his end at the hands of the ghost of a man he killed in a duel--the Commendatore who was defending his daughter Donna Anna.  The libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte invests this tragic tale with a great deal of comedy, none of which was overlooked by the agile cast of singers.
Mozart's portentous opening chords are followed immediately by the humorous remarks of the Don's much-abused servant Leporello.  Baritone Carlos Monzon missed none of the wry humor and sang with an admirable depth and breadth of tone.  The Don then enters the scene, full of himself, with Donna Anna in hot pursuit; she is determined to learn the identity of her would-be attacker.  A glorious trio in perfect balance establishes the relationship of the characters.  Baritone William Browning made a fine Don both vocally and dramatically.  Soprano Alexandra LoBianco has a large and pleasing sound and created a sympathetic character; who could not feel for her grief at losing her father!  Her stalwart and loyal fiancé Don Ottavio (tenor Benjamin Robinson) is there to console her with his sweet voice.  The tenor has two fine arias--"Dalla sua pace" and the difficult "Il mio tesoro" in which he demonstrated fine breath control.  Donna Anna was remarkable in "Non mi dir".

Enter Donna Elvira, a role which requires a large sound; soprano Zhanna Alkhazova fulfilled the requirements of the role to perfection.  She has been seduced and abandoned by the Don and pursues him throughout the opera.  Her "Mi tradito" was superb as she did a fine job of limning the ambivalence Donna Elvira has toward her love object.  A high point of the opera is Leporello's delivery of the so-called Catalogue Aria in which he disabuses Donna E. of her romantic notions.  The Don has seduced thousands of women!  Interestingly, during the course of this opera he never succeeds; but oh, how he tries!

His next attempted conquest is that of the naive peasant girl Zerlina on the day of her marriage to Masetto.  Soprano Madison Marie McIntosh has the adorable appearance and bright young sound needed for this role and bass-baritone Kian Freitas was excellent as the ironic and suspicious Masetto.  Zerlina has two charming arias in which she succeeds in manipulating Masetto out of his moods--"Batti, batti" and "Vedrai carino".  The famous duet with the Don "La ci darem la mano" was well handled.  Bass Elias Notus had a commanding presence as Il Commendatore.

The diction was exemplary; at certain points the sur-titles went missing but not a word was lost.

There will be one more opportunity to experience this superb cast who will be performing the opera at Symphony Space on Thursday, December 12th.  Consider this event to be highly recommended.

© meche kroop

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