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Performances

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago
18 Apr 2018

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

On a recent weekend evening the performers in the current roster of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a concert of operatic selections showcasing their musical talents. The Lyric Opera Orchestra accompanied the performers and was conducted by Edwin Outwater.

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

A review by Salvatore Calomino

Above image courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

From the start the selections were performed with dedication and with attention to both text and music. The scene including a solo aria for the role of Robert in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta was delivered with a practiced style by Takaoki Onishi. His neatly controlled forte notes and ease at diminuendo added to the overall effect of his character. Comedy and sustained lyricism were cleverly blended in the duet for Nemorino and Dr. Dulcamara as performed by Mario Rojas and Alan Higgs. The two subsequent numbers from Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, featuring Lindsay Metzger and Alec Carlson were notable for the fine diction observed by both singers, while they acted out the sentiments of the imaginative protagonist convincingly.

The excerpt from Catalani’s La Wally, “Ne andrò lontana,” was an opportunity to hear the excellent range of soprano Ann Toomey. Her penetrating voice, when producing high, forte pitches, is clear and emphatic yet capable of shading to a sudden diminuendo as she equates her own departure to the ceasing of a bell’s toll. Verdi’s I masnadieri is a rich musical trove for various vocal types as here exemplified by the duet for tenor and bass sung by Mr. Carlson and Patrick Guetti. Both singers respond urgently to the dramatic needs of this moment in the score. Guetti’s distinctly colored bass exudes power while expressing emotional touches of familial devotion. Extended notes held at the close by Guetti echoed impressively. The gavotte from Massenet’s Manon was staged delightfully with Diana Newman as Manon surrounded by various of her male colleagues singing collectively as suitors. Ms. Newman sings and acts comfortably in this character’s range, her sense of lyricism punctuated by repeated, decorative top notes securely on pitch. In the final selection from the first half of the program, the quartet from Rossini’s La scala di seta, Ms. Newman demonstrated these qualities further and at a more frenetic pace. She was joined, among others, by the first appearance of Josh Lovell, whose sumptuously developed, lyric tenor will be a major addition to productions of works from the Baroque and bel canto repertoire. Lovell’s secure top notes, expressive line, and clear decoration in rapid passage work helped transform this Rossinian gem into a fitting first conclusion.

The second part of the concert opened with an instrumental excerpt, two movements from Ravel’s Trio for piano, violin, and cello. Madeline Slettedahl, current resident pianist in the Ryan Opera Center, demonstrated amply her skills in conjunction with Robert Hanford and Barbara Haffner. Vocal excerpts took a dramatic turn when contralto Lauren Decker performed the aria for Marfa from Khovanshchina. There were sustained tensions at first dominating the voice as Decker sang of a “mysterious force” and the power of “those departed.” A sudden dramatic outburst was followed by exciting low pitches before she foretold the secret of the Prince’s destiny. Toward the conclusion Decker’s commanding upper range was revealed in piercing appropriate notes equating the Prince’s life with hardship. Two additional excerpts from works by Rossini added to the delights of the concert’s conclusion. In the second-act trio from Il barbiere di Siviglia Metzger and Lovell were encouraged repeatedly by O’Hanlon’s Figaro to prepare for a hasty departure; the lovers ignored such warnings while decorating their lines with the glory of closer acquaintance. Lovell’s impressive runs and top pitches call for further Rossinian contributions while Metzger’s low pitches and comparable decoration would suggest the same. In the quartet ensemble from the first act of L’italiana in Algeri Decker and Guetti demonstrated their technique in a lighter repertoire. As Isabella and Mustafà both sang their pointed lines with seamless, decorative beauty and a firm sense of comic involvement. The evening concluded with the entire company participating in “Make Our Garden Grow” from Bernstein's Candide.

The individual and ensemble performances were impressive throughout the evening and speak well for the future of vocal arts as supported by this exemplary company.

Salvatore Calomino

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