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, August 2, 2018


Danza Familia Latina

The people of Guatemala, a country we visited and loved, has suffered some dreadful blows in June and July, from volcanic eruptions to earthquakes. So many worthy organizations have come to the rescue.  Last night, Una Voz, Un Mundo, an organization devoted to humanitarian aid, arts advocacy, and the celebration of cultural diversity, presented a concert in support of the People of Guatemala.

There was something for everyone on the program, from lively colorful folk dancing to zarzuela (YAY!) and opera, not to mention jazz saxophone, and classical piano. There was also some amplified shrieking that hurt our tender ears but on that we will not dwell.

Both accompanist and soloist, Abdiel Vázquez delighted us with "Chopin's D-flat Major Nocturne", followed by a welcome medley of Gershwin tunes.

He accompanied three singers that we greatly enjoyed. Soprano Teresa Castillo put a great deal of her own flirtatious personality into "Carceleras" from Ruperto Chapí's zarzuela-- Las Hijas del Zebedeo. Her bright sound and pleasing vibrato were especially lovely in the vocalise portion. There was another song in Spanish the title of which we did not get, since the program was incomplete.  But it seemed to be about the jungle and the shade--selva y sombra.

We don't hear Spanish music as often as we would wish and hoped that more of the program would be in that beautiful language. We had most of our desires met.

After a fine performance of "Anzoleta avanti la regata" from Rossini's La regata veneziana, the excellent mezzo-soprano Kat Liu delighted us with two Spanish songs by Federico Garcia Lorca--the haunting "Las Morillas de Jaën" and "Los Cuatro Muleros".

Tenor Mario Arévalo, Founder and Artistic Director of Una Voz, Un Mundo, put his powerful voice to good use, first in Carlos Guastavino's melancholy "La Rosa y el Sauce", and then in "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from Franz Lehar's Das Land des Lächelns. 

He joined Ms. Castillo for the duet "Tonight" from Bernstein's West Side Story which was, for unknown reasons, as cruelly amplified as the performance of the screaming pop singer. Such attractive and well trained voices do not require amplification which distorted the natural sound of their voices.

There was some jazz saxophone music played by Thomas A. Giles on an alto sax; we liked the piece by Astor Piazzolla but have no idea who arranged it for saxophone; there was an interesting contemporary piece by Antonio Truyols involving tapping on the instrument and rhythmic breathing.

We also heard some original jazz piano music played by Francis Hon entitled "Morningstar"--all of which was quite nice. There was also a poetry reading.  

We would call this a highly entertaining and eclectic evening. We are reminded of a benefit performance given some years ago for the Chilean earthquake which was organized by our friend Kala Maxym, an event which launched our career writing about opera!

Instead of whining about how tragic something is or praying for people, it is a far better thing to do something concrete. All of the artists involved volunteered for this concert and this makes us very very happy and proud of the music community.

(c) meche kroop

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