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, June 29, 2015


Veronica Loiacono, Jodi Karem, Judith Fredricks, Edgar Jaramillo, Percy Martinez and Michael Fennelly at the piano

One could not imagine a better way to end a summer weekend than celebrating the joys of Spanish music with impresario Judith Fredricks who always comes up with an interesting program and the finest of artists to perform it. The theme of last night's recital was music from the Spanish world--not just from Spain but from Latin America as well.

The majority of the program was carried by soprano Veronica Loiacono who has all the Latin verve and passion to put the songs across.  Regular readers will recall our affection for zarzuela and Ms. Loiacono gave satisfaction on all accounts. Not only does she have a great instrument under exquisite control but the stylish moves necessary to convey stories of love desired, love won, love lost, or love regained.

We enjoyed "Cancion de la Paloma" from Barbieri's El Barberillo de lavapies, a zarzuela we would dearly love to hear in its entirety. On a quieter note, Guastavino's "La rosa y el sauce" has a tender tune and a depth of feeling that smacks of lamentation. The song ends in a vocalise that allowed one to appreciate Ms. Loiacono's purity of sound.

The spirited "De España vengo" from Luna's El Niño Judio scored a big hit, and the soprano's performance of duets with tenor Percy Martinez was impressive in "Torero quiero ser" from Penella's El Gato montés as well as in "El día que me quieras" from the  20th c. tango by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera.

Mr. Martinez, a full throated and expansive singer, delighted the audience with his solos as well; "Raquel" from Guerrero's El huésped del sevillano and, even better, the famous "No puede ser" from Sorozabal's La tabernera del puerto. The latter permitted Mr. Martinez to show different vocal colors in the bitter A section and the contrasting reflective B section. He also sang the romantic "Júrame" by María Mendez Grever, Mexico's first famous female composer.  Another excellent selection was "Hasta la guitarra llora" by Ayarza de Morales.

The knockout tenor Edgar Jaramillo (recently reviewed as Mario Cavaradossi in Chelsea Opera's production of Puccini's Tosca) charmed us with the old standard "Cielito Lindo" by Mendoza y Cortes.  Mr. Jaramillo instinctively knows how to build a song to a stunning climax and how to communicate every emotion.

Not only is his voice delightful to the ear but his emotions come right from the heart and produce a very special feel in the listener. Just listen to the gentleness of  "Por ti sere" by Lovland and Graham.  One could just melt!  It took us about 10 seconds to realize that "A mi manera" was a Spanish translation of "I Did it My Way", which sounds good in any language.

Pianist Michael Fennelly not only accompanied with his customary skill but also got to show off some impressive pianistic skills in a couple of solos--Vladimir Horowitz' frenzied "Carmen Variations" (wonderfully played but not adding much to our love of the Bizet opera) and, far more appealing, the first part of "Goyescas", composed by  Enrique Granados' when he was only 25.

And now we come to the best part! The multi-talented Ms. Loiacono introduced an opera entitled Cartas Marcadas and the aforementioned trio of singers were joined by mezzo-soprano Jodi Karem for a performance of selections therefrom; the opera actually had a collective of four composers of which Ms. Loiacono is one. It's about time we heard music with a singable vocal line and, for this, we believe her to be responsible.

Mr. Fennelly played the overture and several selections followed. The plot sounds intriguing--a philosophical game of immortality played like poker. Judging by what we heard last night, we believe a full production of Cartas Marcadas would be very well received by the opera community. Fascinating plot! Singable tunes! Is there an adventuresome small company out there available to listen to the music and read the libretto? We surely hope so.

The evening ended with the group performing Agustín Lara's "Granada". Ms. Fredricks' events are casual--held cabaret style at tables with wine served. We would be remiss if we failed to mention a very special event at the Metropolitan Room on October 5th at 7:00. There will be special surprises and an interesting twist. Save the date and we will tell more later.

(c) meche kroop

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