|Michael Fennelly, Josh Quinn, Evan LeRoy Johnson, Jane Shaulis, John Brancy, Ryan Speedo Green and Opera Index President Murray Rosenthal|
We can scarcely believe what goes on in church basements these days! Luminaries of the opera world joined a roomful of opera lovers to celebrate Opera Index and its 31st competition. Over $50,000. was awarded to 15 young artists, 5 of whom performed for members of Opera Index, an organization that supports young singers--an organization you should join if you haven't already. Membership is a paltry $45!
You may notice that only four of these young artists are in the photo above, the reason being that baritone Joe Eletto was obliged to leave for a rehearsal immediately after his vocally and dramatically excellent performance of "Come un'ape ne' giorni d'aprile" from Rossini's La Cenerentola. He conveyed every nuance of humor as Dandini comments on the pair of stepsisters. Rossini underscored the humor with a clutch of staccato notes which Mr. Eletto handled effectively.
Bass-baritone Josh Quinn has a large round and mature sound which he employed effectively in "O, du mein holder Abendstern" from Wagner's Tannhäuser. His ardent delivery made the aria incredibly moving and the size of his voice did not diminish his flexibility in the melismatic passage. Mr. Fennelly's accompaniment was particularly lovely.
Tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson has a sweet youthful sound with an impressive expansion at the top and a sensitive touch with dynamics which served him well in "Salut! demeure chaste et pure" from Gounod's Faust. He maintained that lovely even French line and exhibited some very nice diction.
Baritone John Brancy has a soulful delivery that imbues every word with deep meaning and we greatly enjoyed his vocally refined performance of "Pierrot's Tanzlied" from Korngold's Die tote Stadt, much as we enjoyed the two Korngold songs he sang last night at New York Festival of Song. This one is filled with nostalgia and yearning and went straight to the heart.
Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green ended the recital on a humorous note as he gave an outstanding performance of "La calunnia" from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. His large frame and expansive sound combined with an abundance of dramatic flourishes to leave the audience smiling from ear to ear.
All of these young artists are busy singing around the country and have impressive resumés. How fortunate we felt to have them serenading us! Since there was not a female winner present, Jane Shaulis contributed a delightful performance of the very funny Cole Porter song "The Physician".
As if that were not enough, Mr. Brancy thrilled us with an encore--"Maria" from Bernstein's West Side Story. He spun the high note so beautifully! And Mr. Green sang "This Nearly Was Mine" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific with great depth of feeling. We are convinced that the "American Musical" is just another iteration of opera.
Mr. Fennelly's skill as accompanist has been appreciated for several years. The evening ended with a buffet dinner supplied by Opera Index members. It seems unnecessary to say that those who love good music love good food. We left satisfied in body as well as spirit.
There are ten more winners to be enjoyed and appreciated at upcoming events. For further information, go to www.operaindexinc.org. Join the party!
© meche kroop