Erik Bagger, Eva Parr, Jaclyn Randazzo, Barbara Porto, Kristin Renée Young, Victor Khodadad, Stan Lacy, and Scott Lindroth
We first encountered New Camerata Opera at its inception in 2016 and have never been disappointed in their work. That's quite a claim! We have followed small companies with their ups and downs and have also watched some that have ignited and then died out due to poor management and/or poor artistic decisions. But NCO seems to do everything right and always leaves us with a smile on our face.
Last night we attended their annual gala at a sky high tower in mid-Manhattan. Even that glorious view did not distract us from the excellent entertainment, nor did the bountiful food and drinks and stylish enthusiastic crowd. After a warm welcome and the introduction of the engaging Phillip Bettencourt, the new Board Chairman, we were treated to a generous program of our favorites from the opera canon, sung by long-standing company members, soprano Barbara Porto, mezzo-soprano Eva Parr, tenors Erik Bagger and Victor Khodadad, baritones Stan Lacy and Scott Lindroth, as well as two most welcome newcomers-- sopranos Jaclyn Randazzo and Kristin Renée Young.
What joy to see the company growing and taking on ambitious new projects. Guests received advance notice of a production for next autumn of Puccini's Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi. How ironic that we just reviewed Juilliard Opera's production of two parts of the same trilogy.
With our preference for opera of the 18th and 19th c. we were delighted to enjoy a program comprised most of our favorites from Mozart to Mascagni. It is difficult to choose our favorites; we went from one high to another.
Let us begin with what impressed us about the newcomers. Ms. Randazzo made an impressive Fiordiligi, tackling "Come scoglio" from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (and winning the game) with brilliant high notes and the well executed leaps for which the aria is notorious. Ms. Young gave Norina's "Quel guardo, il cavaliere" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale an exemplary interpretation, filled with fine fioritura. The runs were cleanly delivered and the trills were thrilling.
The final tragic duet from Bizet's Carmen was performed in the middle of the scattered audience making everyone feel like attendees at the bullfight shuddering at the spectacle of a woman being done in just like the bull. Ms. Parr and Mr. Bagger left us shaken, in contrast with the production we saw last August in Santa Fe that left us shrugging with indifference. The curious part is that we didn't have a couple hours to build up feelings for the characters. Now how amazing is that!
We haven't seen much of Korngold's Die tote Stadt but we have heard "Pierrot's Tanzlied" many times in concert and we have never enjoyed it as much as we did last night, as performed by Mr. Lacy with persuasive intensity and appropriate gesture, not to mention excellent German diction.
Ms. Porto performed "Oh mio babbino caro" with such involvement and lovely fine vibrato that it was as if heard for the first time, although we just reviewed Puccini's Gianni Schicchi two nights earlier.
Mr. Khodadad and Mr. Lindroth succeeded in limning the characters of Rodolfo and Marcello as they struggle with their ambivalence toward their respective lovers in Puccini's La Bohême. And they did so in perfect harmony.
There was much more to enjoy and we particularly enjoyed the closing. number in which the entire ensemble joined for "Make Our Garden Grow" from Bernstein's Candide. Accompanist for the evening was the excellent Paiwen Chen.
What a rewarding evening! We cannot wait to see what the company does in the fall, especially after hearing how well suited to Puccini they are.
(c) meche kroop