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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Jessica Rose Cambio and Won Whi Choi in the love scene from Act I of Puccini's La Boheme

"If music be the food of love, play on", said the Bard. Last night, at Giovanni Rana Pastificio, we enjoyed both music and food together, but, thankfully, in alteration--thus removing the conflict between savoring the food or the music. We got to concentrate on each in turn.

Michael Capasso, General Director of New York City Opera, rounded up three sublime sopranos and three terrific tenors to entertain us between courses of Mr. Rana's perfect pastas. Mr. Capasso himself narrated the program, supplying interesting tidbits about the life of Giacomo Puccini (especially his love life).

To begin, Jessica Rose Cambio and Won Whi Choi gave a deeply heartfelt performance of the love scene from Act I of Puccini's 1896 opera La Boheme. Who could not be affected by two young people pouring out their stories to one another! We listened and felt their attraction blossoming.

Then Kristin Sampson and James Valenti performed the scene from Act I of Puccini's 1900 Tosca. The jealous Floria Tosca confronts her lover Mario Cavaradossi with her suspicions when she notices that his painting of the Virgin has blond hair and blue eyes. The superb duet ended with Mr. Valenti dabbing dark paint onto the eyes of the painting on the easel.

The final duet was another love scene from Act I of Puccini's 1904 Madama Butterfly. Inna Dukach made a lovely delicate butterfly landing gently on the arm of her new husband Pinkerton, ably sung by Jason Karn. One could almost forget the tragedy that would come to pass.

Piano accompaniment was provided by Kathryn Olander. Costume design by Derek Lockwood was outstanding and totally appropriate for each scene.

It is a very difficult thing to perform in a restaurant where people eat and drink and talk. It was amazing that these fine voices rose above the din and captivated the crowd. We believe that the fine entertainment succeeded in bringing new people to the opera house. To have heard three such excellent duets is to become a convert.  Indeed, patrons of the restaurant were offered a 20% discount on seats to Ottorino Respighi's La Campana Sommersa which will be produced by NYCO from March 31st through April 5th. New York City has not heard a performance of this opera since 1929!

If music is food for the soul, pasta is music for the taste buds and we got to taste several varieties of Mr. Rana's creations, all of them original. His restaurant is in the Chelsea Market. What a swell evening!

(c) meche kroop

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