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.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Cristina Stanescu and Theo Lebow
It was a dark and stormy night.  It was the perfect night for Schubert's Die Winterreise, a journey we have made and enjoyed dozens of times; but we'd never made the journey with Theo Lebow and Cristina Stanescu.  Could anything new be wrung from this well-worn but beloved 1827 song cycle?  A resounding "YES" is the answer.

Mr. Lebow has a sweet and youthful tenor, perfect for expressing the intense drama of a youth dealing with a lost love.  His interpretation was fearless as he plumbed the depths of despair and unrelenting isolation with interludes of brief false hope. The wanderer he limned bordered on psychosis.  For all Mr. Lebow's immersion in the text, he never lost sight of the music.  His superb technique with its fine phrasing and exquisite dynamic control were never obvious but used to serve the music.  His gestures were apt but never overdone.

In Cristina Stanescu, Mr. Lebow found the perfect piano partner.  Although the current season is Spring, it was obvious that the two artists spent a long winter working together.  They seemed to breathe in and out at the same time.  Her pianism reflected every one of the allegorical elements of nature mentioned in the text--dogs barking, streams running, trees rustling, crows cawing and the mail coach passing; we even heard the last leaf quivering and about to fall from the tree.  Rhythms were crisp and clean.  There were times when she stretched a pause for a split second and we held our breath.

It seemed as if our artists were channeling Schubert and the poet Wilhelm Müller.  Had they been in the audience we are sure they would have wept as we did; it was impossible not to connect with past losses and sorrows.  This is not a performance we will soon forget and neither will the capacity audience who braved the rain to attend.  The two artists well deserved the prolonged standing ovation.  Bravi!!!

© meche kroop

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