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, August 16, 2014


Rexford Tester
Dan Kempson and Annie Rosen
Jenna Siladie and Ricardo Rivera

Amanda Opuszynski

Six talented members of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singers Program, accompanied by Robert Tweten, collaborated for an early evening recital that delighted the audience at the First Presbyterian Church.  The artistry of the singers was matched by the enthusiasm of the audience.

Talented tenor Rexford Tester opened the program with "Ah! mes amis, quel jour de fete" from Donizetti's Fille du Regiment.  He sang with panache and fine French diction. He nailed the nine high C's (but who's counting?)  His penchant for French continued later in the program as he sang Faure's "Lydia".

From Verdi's Falstaff, Ricardo Rivera sang Ford's aria.  Mr. Rivera has a lot of depth in his baritone, the type of voice known as a kavalier bariton; we heard an abundance of strength in the lower register, a very Italianate embouchure and an intensity of involvement with the text.

Soprano Amanda Opuszynski delighted with "Je suis encor tout etourdie" from Massenet's Manon.  Her crystalline sound was perfect for conveying the young Manon's innocence and excitement.  The embellishments were carried off with razzle-dazzle.

From Mozart's Nozze di Figaro, we heard "Crudel! Perche finora farmi languir cosi?", the duet in which Figaro (Mr. Rivera) puts the moves on Susanna, sung by the lovely soprano Jenna Siladie who later won audience acclaim with the "Silver Aria" from Douglas Moore's The Ballad of Baby Doe.

Mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen was simply splendid as Rosina in her duet with the marvelous lyric baritone Dan Kempson.  In this duet "Dunque io son" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Figaro is acting as go-between so that the Count can get together with Rosina.  The pair of singers had great chemistry together and charmed the audience.

Ms. Rosen sang Schumann's "Widmung" with fine dynamic control.  We especially loved the dreamy central section.  It was nearly perfect but we would love to see Ms. Rosen get a better handle on the final "ch" in words such as ich, mich, and dich.  So many American singers seem afraid of this sound and change it to ick, mick and dick or else they drop the sound altogether.

Ms. Opuszynski was charming in her Rossini song "La pastorella dell'Alpi" and gave a fine example of yodeling, complete with echo.

Mr. Kempson was nothing short of sensational in "Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Erich Korngold's Die tote Stadt.  The nostalgic feelings were palpable and his German diction is perfect.

To close the program, the entire cast performed the ensemble "Alla bella Despinetta" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.  The program seemed all too short!

(c) meche kroop

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