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.

Friday, October 4, 2019


Pavel Suliandziga, Laura León, Sarah Hayashi, Yuri Napoli, and Liana Guberman

Last night we were at the glamorous Norwood Club which is filled with stunning works of art, none of which could compete with the artistry of the singers assembled for the 6th annual Bare Opera Gala.

This fundraising event was held to introduce those of us who love Bare Opera to the cast and director of the upcoming production of Don Giovanni. Kirsten Scott, Co-Founder and General Director of this boutique opera company, gives good speech just as she gives good singing. If you didn't leave excited about the production you need to be on life support!

With Co-Founder and Artistic Director Laetitia Ruccolo at the piano, we were given a few selections from the production which premieres October 18 at the Bellwether, one of the more interesting spaces chosen by Bare Opera for their productions.

Not only does Bare Opera take opera out of the concert hall and into interesting venues, but they bring in directors with vision who can strip operas of their accumulated clichés, kinda like stripping barnacles off the hull of a boat.

Director Malena Dayen has interpreted Mozart's tragi-comedy in the light of the #metoo movement. It is difficult for us to perceive the gentle and handsome baritone Suchan Kim as a vile seducer but we suppose that's what acting instruction accomplishes.

We have no such trouble seeing tenor Pavel Suliandziga as a devoted Don Ottavio who, we understand, will not be the customary wimp. Having dazzled us with his Tchaikovsky at Around the World in Song, we are ready to be redazzled or bedazzled, if you will.  He is definitely the anti-Don.

The women will not be portrayed as victims and, we can tell you, soprano Liana Guberman makes a fiery but sympathetic Donna Elvira, not the comic figure to which we are accustomed. She was in superb voice last night and knocked our socks off.

The other two female roles were played by singers relatively new to us. Cuban soprano Laura León has the role of Donna Anna and connected well with Mr. Suliandziga.

Zerlina was sung by Sarah Hayashi who connected well with Mr. Kim, the smarmy seducer.

Each singer was interviewed by Yuri Napoli who asked all the right questions, encouraging each singer to reveal something about the character he/she would play.

Director Malena Dayen was present to tell us just enough about how she interprets the story to ensure our attendance at the performance. She will utilize the services of video artist Sangmin Chae to bring 21st century technology to this 18th century opera. We will not say too much about this innovation until we have the opportunity to see it in action.

Consider yourself encouraged to take a walk on the wild side with Bare Opera, Mozart, and Da Ponte. We've got our walkin' shoes on!

© meche kroop

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