|Stephanie Kim Johnson and Maestro Chris Fecteau|
Because we will be reviewing Santa Fe Opera at the beginning of Dell'Arte Opera's 2017 Festival (UNTAMED) and won't get our reviews up until the end of the run, we want to make sure that our readers are aware of this exciting season . We advise you not to wait for our reviews. There will be two fully staged productions with orchestra at LaMama on E. 4th St.
Saturday evening found us chez Fecteau meeting the directors of the two productions, learning all kinds of interesting tidbits, listening to some great singing, hearing a lovely piano piece composed by Maestro Fecteau, enjoying lovely company, drinks and edibles, and meeting Carter, the well trained resident canine.
Let us begin with the directors. Readers will recall how wildly enthusiastic we were about Brittany Goodwin's recent direction of Purcell's Fairy Queen. (Scroll down for review "In a gadda da vida"). This incredibly talented young woman will be directing Cavalli's La Calisto. That charming baroque opera was done at Juilliard not too long ago and made a very favorable impression with its vocal writing. We cannot wait to see what creative innovations Ms. Goodwin will devise from her fertile imagination.
Charles Weaver will be conducting and both casts include singers we know and love.
Equally exciting is Janacek's Cunning Little Vixen which will be performed in the original Czech. We have enjoyed this opera both at Juilliard and at Manhattan School of Music, although we have never heard it sung in Czech. It is beyond impressive that the participants in Maestro Fecteau's program have been getting coaching in Czech from two renowned experts. This is a lot to ask of emerging artists but should serve them well in the future to have mastered it. We, on the other hand, cannot even find a keyboard to share the real title with our readers! Oh those strange diacritical markings!
Conductor of the piece will be David Stech. Directing this work will be Ashraf Sewailam, who also happens to be a splendid singer. He entertained us royally with a vocally and dramatically splendid Leporello, singing the "Catalogue Aria" from Mozart's Don Giovanni, with a great deal of style. We insisted on an encore and got a stirring rendition of "Old Man River" from Jerome Kern's 1936 Showboat, a quintessential American musical--or opera, if you will.
Soprano Stephanie Kim Johnson performed a scintillating "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. This foxy lady will perform the role of Fox in the upcoming production. We have never heard the role sung by a soprano and are looking forward to hearing what it will sound like. In any case, Ms. Johnson has a gorgeous instrument and there is no doubt that she uses it well and expressively.
We were also treated to the sexy "Meine Lippen, sie kussen so heiss" from Franz Lehar's operetta Guditta, sung by the sexy Alexa Smith.
There was interesting conversation from the artists present about the difference between the uvular "r" and the rolled "r". We will have to do more listening and reading to understand that one!
But we had no trouble understanding the collective voice of all present who agreed with us about presenting opera in its original language. We do love it so when experts agree with us!
Do not forget to go to www.dellarteopera.org to secure your tickets. The quality is high, the cost is low. There are more events than the two operas so you might consider a season pass.
(c) meche kroop