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.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


A very gala Black and White Gala presented by New Camerata Opera

Song, food, and drink in abundance made for a delightful evening in which we celebrated the many fine activities of New Camerata Opera. Survival of small opera companies is a challenge and throwing a party is an effective means of raising funds to support an upcoming season.

Attendees were wined and dined and royally entertained in a well chosen program. What a perfect opening number was sung by mezzo-soprano Julia Tang--"Ah! quel diner!", a spirited song sung by the eponymous La Périchole from Jacques Offenbach's opera bouffe. The closing number was "Intanto Amici, Qua...Viva Il Vino Spumeggiante" from the scene in Mamma Lucia's wine shop--a lively celebration preceding the tragic ending. The entire cast joined voices in song.

In between the beginning and ending, we had ample exposure to the talents of this adventuresome company, just beginning their third season. The program was interrupted by two intermissions so that audience members could feast and socialize--a very agreeable way to spend an evening.

Soprano Barbara Porto was joined by tenor Erik Bagger for "Parigi, o cara" from the final act of Verdi's La Traviata in which Violetta and Alfredo give way to false hopes before her tragic demise. Lily Arbisser then did justice to the role of Mimi in Puccini's La Bohême with tenor Victor Khodadad as her Rodolfo in "Dunque: è proprio finite!", another sad scene in which the two Bohemians plan their breakup.  Meanwhile Musetta (the versatile Ms. Porto) is having a knock down drag out fight with Marcello (Scott Lindroth).

We were more than ready for something lighthearted at that point and enjoyed two baritones singing "Largo al factotum" from Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Stan Lacy and Mr. Lindroth performed this tag team delight, mingling with the audience and even setting up one of the guests for a shave! We are sure that Rossini would have loved it too!

Mr. Khodadad performed "Ella mi fu rapita!...Parmi veder le lagrime" from Verdi's Rigoletto, the aria in which the degenerate Duke laments the kidnapping of his latest conquest, the innocent Gilda, not knowing that he will shortly have access to her.

Again, the intensity was relieved by some humor.  Mr. Khodadad availed himself of music from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and created an opera for children based on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. He was bound together with Mr. Lacy in another dual performance, with Nicole Leone taking the role of the Princess. It is notable that New Camerata Opera distinguishes itself from the many small opera companies in New York by bringing opera for children into schools and libraries, thus fostering the development of new audiences of the future.

Another interesting project of NCO is commissioning short works for showing on You Tube, one of which we had the pleasure of seeing last night--"Memories" by Charles Ives, featuring Mr. Lacy.

Mezzo-soprano Eva Parr made a fine Carmen with Mr. Bagger as her Don Jose in the final scene from the Bizet opera. Are my readers noticing a theme  here? So many tragic heroines in one night!

All of the scenes were accompanied by the fine pianist Erik Sedgwick. Everyone sang well and we couldn't help noticing how attentive the audience was, in spite of the free-flowing wine and cocktails. The evening didn't end until the results of the silent auction were announced and everyone left with all their senses satisfied.

The upcoming season will include a double bill of Gustav Holst's Sävitri and Blow's Venus and Adonis, offering opera lovers a rare opportunities to expand their taste. Britten's Rape of Lucretia will be directed by Brittany Goodwin whose work we always admire. And readers with children are urged to look for Rumpelstiltskin, since, as we know, listening to Mozart will make your children more intelligent!  Furthermore, you will find some compelling entries on You Tube, produced by NCO's in-house film studio; watch out for The Prince von Pappenschmear!

© meche kroop

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