|Xueyan Fan, Courtney Delisle, Edgar Jaramillo, and Scott O'Brien onstage at SpoonFed NY|
We couldn't think of a better way to introduce a newbie to opera than by bringing them to one of Opera New York's cabaret style evenings. Last night's show "From Italy, With Love" was held at SpoonFed NY where the welcome is warm, the drinks are well crafted, and the food is genuine Soul Food.
The program was all meat and no fat. Each of the four singers, well chosen by impresario Judith Fredricks, got right into his/her aria or duet. The atmosphere in the room is intimate with room for only about 35 opera lovers, all of whom had a marvelous time appreciating the emotional content of the material, so difficult to get when you are sitting the length of a football field away from the stage.
Of the four singers, Edgar Jaramillo is the one we know the best. Over several years he has mesmerized us with the warmth and roundness of his tenor and his complete dedication to the material. Last night he gave a very well-rounded picture of his versatility.
He offered several examples of operatic suffering in "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini's Tosca. The audience went wild for that long held money note! He was one triumphant tenor in "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot.
He also limned the joy of falling in love in a scene from Act I of Puccini's La Bohême with the lovely soprano Courtney Delisle as his shy Mimi. Speaking of versatility, Ms. Delisle was also able to do justice to the "bad girl" of La Bohême in "Quando m'en vo" in which Musetta torments her off-again-on-again lover Marcello.
Soprano Xueyan Fan also had a chance to shine in a variety of roles. Our favorite character always was, is, and will be Violetta from Verdi's La Traviata. In the first act her lengthy aria involves a number of changes of mood as she weighs the fantasied pleasure of submitting to love against the joy of living a wild and free life style. Ms. Fan was totally convincing and used her beautiful soprano effectively with changes of vocal color as called for.
We also enjoyed her performing a very different role--that of the shy and modest Liu from Turandot--investing the slave girl with nobility of character. Even more different was her performance of "Chi bel sogno di Doretta", Magda's light-hearted aria from Puccini's La Rondine.
New to us was lyric baritone Scott O'Brien who sang "Finiculli, Finiculla" and "Santa Lucia" with so much garlic that we have decided to rename him Salvatore Obriano! (Please don't kill us Scott!)
The evening closed with all four singers performing "O Sole Mio", taking us back many years to operatic evenings at Caffé Taci when such a stunt was regularly performed.
Michael Pilafian was the excellent accompanist for the evening.
(c) meche kroop