|Seth Weinstein, Gary Slavin, Alexis Cregger, Caitlin Burke, David Macaluso, and Matt Hughes
In a departure from their customary presentation of full-length operettas, Light Opera of New York presented an alll-too-brief evening of songs from opera, operetta, and the popular genre of American songs. The songs were curated by Carol Davis and staged by Gary Slavin. At the piano was the fine accompanist Seth Weinstein.
Ms. Davis introduced the cabaret style evening by welcoming guests to "Bar Carol". But none of the songs were barcarolles. All the songs stayed with the theme of drinking. The singers wanted alcohol, drank it, enjoyed it or were drawn by it into sad memories.
The opening number, Sigmund Romberg's "Drink, Drink, Drink!", performed by the ensemble, set the tone for the evening, followed by "Libiamo" from Verdi's La Traviata, sung with verve by soprano Alexis Cregger and tenor Matt Hughes.
On of our favorite songs for the evening was Lehar's "I'm Going to Maxim's", sung by baritone David Macaluso with no end of rakish charm. Notable was the humor of the English translation and Mr. Macaluso's superb diction. Not a single clever rhyme was lost.
Sung in the original French and in high comedic style was Jacques Offenbach's "Ah! Quel dîner, je viens de faire", which had us grinning from ear to ear. Ms. Cregger has a soaring soprano that was best appreciated in Johann Strauss' "Czardas".
The other soprano of the evening was Caitlin Burke whose sizable voice and darker dramatic timbre lent itself readily to torch songs. In Strayhorn's "Lush Life" she spun out the final note to a ppp in an impressive decrescendo. She also has a fine comic sense as heard in Arthur Sullivan's "Come bumpers".
Matt Hughes did a fine job with a Kingston Trio number called "Scotch and Soda", giving it a romantic inflection. Gary Slavin filled the stage with Buffett's "Margaritaville", accompanying himself on the guitar. Later, he kept us laughing with Cole Porter's "Mrs. Lowsborough-Goodby", describing a nightmare weekend invitation.
The ensemble delighted us with another Porter tune "Well Did You Evah" a recitation of hilarious calamities and scandals. We enjoyed the evening thoroughly, especially since the point was made that a good song is a good song, no matter what the language or period. This idea was introduced to us at New York Festival of Song and we have cherished it ever since.
If you've never had a LOONY evening, keep them in mind for next season.
(c) meche kroop