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 13, 2016


Suchan Kim, Dina Pruzhansky,Kinneret Ely, Shu-Yu Hsiung

Regular readers recall how fond we are of bel canto. of duets, and of hearing wonderful songs we've never heard before.  All three conditions were experienced last night when versatile soprano Kinneret Ely performed a most enjoyable recital at The National Opera Center.

Let us begin with the new. While singing well in Italian, Russian, German, French and English, Ms. Ely seemed most at home in Hebrew. A 20th c. song by Nachum Nardi took us on a journey into the desert with the lovely melody bringing in the sounds of the camels' bells--beautiful achieved by Dina Pruzhansky. A lullaby by Yehiel Halperin took us to a gentler landscape, whilst Nira Chen's setting of a verse from the Song of Songs was exquisite.

All three songs were performed with simplicity by Ms. Ely who has a most winning stage presence, graciously telling the audience about each song on the program. Her exciting coloratura was saved for other material on the program. We never tire of "Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Ms. Ely paid full attention to Rosina's spunky nature.

In the lengthy mad scene from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Ms. Ely accurately conveyed the many shades of madness experienced by the eponymous heroine. Here, Shu-Yu Hsiung's flute joined Ms. Pruzhansky's piano and the accompaniment left nothing to be desired.

It was a great benefit to have such a fine robust baritone as Suchan Kim on hand to perform Rigoletto to Ms. Ely's Gilda in the scene where she confesses and her father consoles. We've heard Verdi's Rigoletto several times in the past couple months and that is another scene of which we never tire.

In the less familiar "Doute de la lumière" from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet, the couple switched from a paternal relationship to a romantic one and that was so swoon-worthy that we wanted to hear the entire opera.

Ms. Ely also gave us three sets of lieder in her generous program. There was a trio of Tosti songs that we enjoyed, although we would have wished for a little more legato to truly achieve the Italianate style.

A trio of Strauss songs delighted us with Ms. Pruzhansky especially wonderful in Morgen. Ms. Ely clearly knows how to pronounce the difficult "ch" as she demonstrated in the word "glücklichen"; so we hope she will become more consistent as in "Zecher" and "Becher", where more definition was needed. (We confess to being rather nit-picky with our German.)

A pair of Rachmaninov songs rounded out the program and sounded fine. (We confess to knowing very little about Russian diction!) Ms. Pruzhansky nailed the sound of the rushing water in "Spring waters" whilst Ms. Ely nailed the hopefulness engendered by the coming of Spring.

As encore, we heard the delightful "Vanilla Ice Cream" from the Harnick/Bock musical She Loves Me, which Ms. Ely sang in a most charming manner.

At a time when most young sopranos sound identical, it was a pleasure to hear one with a unique tone involving substantial vibrato. Interestingly, in the role of Rosina, there was a rich mezzo-soprano quality in her lower register.

We are sure to be hearing more from this promising young artist.

(c) meche kroop

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