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, May 3, 2014


Ryan Speedo Green, Ekaterina Deleu, Alexey Lavrov

Recitals by artists in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program are always a special treat and yesterday's recital was no exception.  We were treated to an hour and a half of lieder and arias by baritone Alexey Lavrov and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, partnered by collaborative pianist Ekaterina Deleu.

We have watched these artists develop in the program and by this time we have run out of superlatives.  Having paid close attention to Eric Owens' master class the day before we were able to appreciate two voices with their vowels centered and lined up in perfect legato lines.  When singers are so totally secure in their technique, there is the artistry of communication to be appreciated.

Mr. Green opened with two arias from Handel's Siro, re di Persia.  His command of the material was masterful.  In "Gelido, in ogni vena" he conveyed grief in a most moving manner; in "Se il mio paterno amore", taken at a livelier tempo, his character's anger was disturbing.

Mr. Lavrov performed Schumann's Dichterliebe better than we have ever heard it sung.  He imbued Heinrich Heine's poetry with Russian passion; we felt as if we were glimpsing the soul of the poet.  A disappointed lover goes through many phases and all were captured--from the joy of "Im wunderschönen Monat Mai" to the resignation of "Die alten, bösen Lieder".  In between there was plenty of irony in "Ich grolle nicht" and in "Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen".  Perhaps the saddest one was "Ich hab' im Traum geweinet" in which Mr. Lavrov invested each verse of the strophic poem with a different shade of sorrow.

Mr. Green next sang Drei Lieder nach Gedichten von Michelangelo; he sang with power and authority.  If Mr. Green's compelling singing cannot get us to love these Wolf settings it is likely that we never will love them.  They are dark and philosophical and his voice is suited to them but we find Wolf's vocal line less compelling than the piano writing.  That being said, he sang them well and there was a lovely decrescendo at the end.

We were far more impressed with the high drama of Assur's aria from Rossini's Semiramide --"Sì, vi sarà vendetta...Deh! ti ferma".  Assur goes from vengefulness to terror to relief to boldness.  Mr. Green captured every nuance.

Mr. Lavrov returned for an encore--Cesare Andrea Bixio's "Parlami d'amore Mariu".  We love the way he caresses each and every word.  He is truly a stage animal and uses not only vocal color but his entire body to bring the audience into the world of the song.

Mr. Green's encore could have been a cliché but it was anything but.  "Ol' Man River" from Jerome Kern's Showboat was given a sincere and nuanced reading that was terribly moving.  It will not be "soon forgotten".

Kudos to Ms. Deleu for a fine job accompanying two very different singers with very different styles.

© meche kroop

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