|Soprano Lauren Flanigan and Friends
Tenor Brian Anderson lent his sweet tenor to Handel's "Comfort Ye" from the Messiah. Later in the program he showed his Broadway chops in "Bring Him Home" from C. M. Schönberg's Les Miserables. We were delighted to see soprano Olga Makarina onstage and to hear her bright flexible voice in "O luce di quest'anima" from Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix; her voice seems made for bel canto. Of course, she would be wonderful in Russian and sang a duet from Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame with mezzo Dina El; the two voices complimented each other so well!
Veteran bass Kevin Langan sang "Elle ne m'aime pas!" from Verdi's original French version of Don Carlos, showing the King's disillusionment and anger. Newcomer to New York, tenor Bray Wilkins, sang "Kuda, kuda" from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with as much depth of feeling as we have ever heard and a gorgeous messa di voce. Raul Melo was also on hand and used his fine powerful tenor to great advantage in "Donna non vidi mai" from Puccini's Manon Lescaut, and later in "Nessun dorma" from Turandot.
Mezzo Eve Gigliotti sang an aria from Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans and was somewhat hampered in her connection with the audience by her use of the music stand. In her delightful performance of Bernstein's "Build My House" from Peter Pan she sang without the stand and it made a huge difference in her relatedness.
South African bass Musa Ngqungwana (this is NOT pronounced the way it is spelled!) impressed us with his huge round sound in the "Catalog Aria" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Laquita Mitchell used her silvery soprano well in "Mercè, dilette amiche" from Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani making us want to hear the full opera at the earliest opportunity. She has a lovely command of the fioritura and a trill to thrill. Bass-baritone Eric Owens graced the stage with "Che mai vegg'io" from Verdi's Ernani; hearing his fine artistry is always a special treat. Kamal Khan was the supportive collaborative pianist, serving each singer well.
As if all this were not enough, the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble, directed by Betty Forbes, made their annual appearance with some good down home gospel music and a number in an African language with percussion that was rhythmic and stirring.
Some special young friends of Ms. Flanigan, pictured above, sang a selection of holiday songs; one of them just knocked our socks off. Jorell Williams sang "Santa Ain't Black" by Rachel Peters; the lyrics were so funny we have requested them.
Sadly, we had to miss Miss Flanigan's selections since we had volunteered to set up the post-performance reception a few blocks away. Ms. Flanigan has graciously offered to indulge us by performing earlier on the program next year! We plan on reminding her, never fear.
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