|Liana Guberman, Eric Lindsey, and Kirsten Scott|
We were there at Bare Opera Company's birth and get a special thrill from watching them flourish. Their interest in immersive opera has taken them to some very interesting venues and has led to some productive partnerships with artists from other disciplines.
Last night, in celebration of Valentine's Day, they joined forces with Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York for the third time at the Kosciuszko Foundation. It was a very special evening. Costumes were devised by designer Taylor Mills, whose company Taylor Catarina has launched a line of clothing suitable for singers and dedicated to comfort and flexibility. So we got a fashion show along with our recital of opera standards.
The arias and ensembles were almost all chosen from among the more well-known and accessible operas, which was just fine with us and very suitable to an audience that may not be as familiar with opera as are regular opera goers. In place of titles, the program included brief synopses of each piece.
The opening was a real stunner. Although British Airways has done everything to make a cliché of the "Flower Duet" from Léo Delibes' Lakmé , it's melodic and harmonic beauty refuse to be trivialized. With Kaleigh Rae Gamaché's crystalline soprano paired with Kirsten Scott's creamy rich mezzo-soprano, we felt as if we were discovering it for the first time.
This may be a good time to point out that Bare Opera was co-founded by Ms. Scott and Maître de Chant Laetitia Ruccolo, whose artistry at the piano ensured that we never missed the orchestra. What colors this beautiful young woman can produce on those 88 keys!
All of the young artists are prize-winners and have sung in several opera companies around the country, as well as taking assignments abroad.
Baritone Suchan Kim, a Bare Opera regular, is the possessor of a very fine instrument that he employs with superb technique. Moreover, his extensive repertoire allows him to slip into a very wide selection of roles with every gesture and facial expression intact--but always appearing spontaneous. That's a wonderful skill! We loved his interpretation of Doctor Malatesta describing the potential wife he has found for Don Pasquale in the Donizetti opera of the same name. "Bella siccome un angelo" is an old favorite for the baritone fach but we seemed to be hearing it anew.
Later in the program, he performed a duet from the same opera with the superb soprano Liana Guberman. In "Pronto io son", Malatesta is coaching Norina in how to fool Don Pasquale into thinking she is a shy convent girl. Ms. Guberman was unfailingly funny as well as musical.
She was contrastingly serious in "Dis moi que je suis belle" from Massenet's Thaïs, the one aria on the program that was of the less familiar category. It was delivered dramatically and poignantly, leading us to wonder why it isn't performed more regularly.
Bass-baritone Eric Lindsey is another singer we have come to admire in a great variety of roles. He made a dashing Don Giovanni in duet with Ms. Gamaché as the peasant girl Zerlina, all too willing to be seduced in "La ci darem la mano". From the same opera, he gave a different spin to the role of Leporello in the famous "Catalogue Aria". We have seen and relished Mr. Lindsey's performance of the role of the Don in a Dell'Arte production, and if we were casting the Mozart opera we wouldn't hesitate to put him in either role!
We also enjoyed two selections from Bizet's Carmen. In the "Habanera", Ms. Scott captured all of Carmen's fickleness with her expressive dusky mezzo. Tenor Victor Starsky, in a later scene, tries to appease Carmen's anger with "La fleur que tu m'avais jetée".
Ms. Gamaché wowed the audience with the challenging aria "Glitter and Be Gay" from Bernstein's Candide. As if we were not already dazzled, she threw in a high F, taking the audience to the heights, as it were.
Puccini's La Bohême also made an appearance on the program with the aria from Act I ("O soave fanculla") in which Mimi (Ms. Guberman) and Rodolfo (Mr. Starsky) fall in love and decide to spend Xmas Eve together. Later, in a scene which opens the last act, Rodolfo (Mr. Starsky) and Marcello (Mr. Kim) torment each other with reports of having seen their estranged lovers. The two men are unable to concentrate on their writing and painting but the two singers were able to deliver artistically.
Our favorite trio is from Mozart's Cosi van tutte. In "Soave sia il vento", Fiordiligi (Ms. Guberman), Dorabella (Ms. Scott), and Don Alfonso (Mr. Lindsey) are watching Ferrando and Guglielmo sail away. The women are bereft but Don Alfonso is laughing up his sleeve. The harmonies are gorgeous and the singing just perfect. Ms. Ruccolo's piano created the sea for our eager ears.
The evening ended with the Finale of Act I from Rossini's La Cenerentola in which all six cast members participated. Rossini's froth is the perfect way to end a satisfying program of opera.
Bare Opera's next venture will be Astor Piazzola's tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires. Stay tuned for details.
(c) meche kroop