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, October 24, 2019


Winners of the 13th Concurso Alejandro Cordero

On prior occasions we have visited the Americas Society to review young singers from the Instituto Superior de Arte, the training division of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. This year we were already booked for the date of their concert, but thanks to the Consulate General of Argentina and their excellent cultural program, we were able to hear these fine singers in recital on a different date. 

We were on our way to Carnegie Hall and had just enough time to hear sopranos Romina Jofré,  Ivana Ledesma, and Marina Torres; mezzo-soprano Estefania Cap; and tenor Cristian Taleb. All were accompanied (and directed) by pianist Marcelo Ayub and joined by special guest baritone Mariano Gladic who rounded out the company. 

The artists were winners of the 13th Concurso Alejandro Cordero but they won our heart as well. The opening scene of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte is always enchanting, provided the voices are well balanced, which they were. This was a fine introduction to all of the singers except for Ms. Jofré who was introduced to us in the next selection.

"Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette is a showpiece for a coloratura soprano who can sparkle vocally and also convey the tragic heroine's youthful abandon. We particularly enjoyed Ms. Jofré's interpretation. She was equally excellent as Norina in "Quel guardo il cavaliere" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale demonstrating fine facility with the fioritura passages.

Later in the duet "Come s'en va contento" from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore she was joined by Mr. Gladic in the role of Dulcamara.  Donizetti's melodies bounced from soprano to baritone to piano-- to excellent effect.

Mr. Gladic delighted us with "Votre toast" from Bizet's Carmen exhibiting a burnished baritonal sound. 

Tenor Cristian Taleb had a fine solo from Massenet's El Cid--"O souverain" was sung with fine French and fine feeling. He also sang a duet with Ms. Ledesma--"Toi! Vous!" from Massenet's Manon which was quite persuasive. Her voice and acting constituted an irresistible force meeting Mr. Taleb's almost immovable object.  Guess who won!

Mr. Taleb also had a duet with Ms. Torres--"Bimba dagli'occhi" from Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Mr. Taleb sang it with sincerity, not giving us a clue about Pinkerton's carelessness toward Cio Cio San's innocent love. Both singers had a good feeling for Puccini's phrasing and sustained the romantic mood. Ms. Torres impressed us with some beautifully floated notes.

Ms.Torres' soprano has enough weight to carry "Pace, pace" from Verdi's La Forza del Destino which was delivered with passion and depth of feeling. We enjoyed the variation of dynamics and an effectively rendered messa di voce. There were some lovely arpeggiated figures in the piano as well.

The program ended with Ms. Ledesma singing the beloved aria "Vilja, o Vilja" from Lehár's Die lustige Witwe, after which the entire cast joined in for "Ein flotter Ehestand" in which the flirtatious Count Danilo gets to flirt with all of the grisettes.

The singers were all superb but we have a minor complaint about the program. There was not a single song in Spanish!!! We were hoping to hear some zarzuela but that was not going to happen. Maybe next year!

© meche kroop

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