The 2012 CCM Opera Scholarship will take place Saturday, March 31st starting at 10:00 am in Corbett Auditorium. Singers compete for over $70,000 in scholarships and prize money. This Competition is open to the public and audiences are encouraged to attend.
Judges for the competition this year are: Metropolitan Opera singer Claudia Catania, renowned Metropolitan Opera Stage Director, Fabrizio Melano and Stage Director and Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint, James Robinson.
A reception following the competition will be held in the Baur Room where the judges will announce their decision.
CCM Opera’s Jonathan Stinson (DMA, baritone) participates in Atlanta Opera’s “24-Hour Opera Project”
Atlanta Opera offered an opportunity for composers and librettists to compete in a exciting and one of a kind opportunity called the 24-Hour Opera Project.
Composers, librettists, stage directors, and singers all participated in the 24-Hour Opera Project. Composers and librettists were randomly paired together, and had 12 hours to write an opera scene. At the end of 12 hours, the pieces were assigned to a stage director, who picked singers from a pool of applicants, and had 8 hours to rehearse before presenting the pieces in a showcase-concert 24 hours after the project began.
CCM Opera’s Jonathan Stinson was selected from a national pool of composers to participate.
This is the exchange between Jonathan and Robin Guarino as the clock started. Atlanta Opera’s blog also chronicled the event from the 2011 24-Hour Opera Project.
- Marc Scorca, President and CEO, OPERA America
- Patricia Beggs, General Director/CEO, Cincinnati Opera
- Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations, Cincinnati Opera
- Robin Guarino, CCM Opera Department Chair and opera director
- Marjorie Fox, CCM Electronic Media Division Head, moderator
CET’s Digital Arts channel broadcasted this panel discussion at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. on channel 48.3 (Time Warner channel 987).
Dear Colleagues, it is my pleasure to congratulate the following Stage Directors, Conductors, Creative Teams, Stage Management, Technical Directors, Staff and Mentors throughout OMDA on the following National Opera Association Awards!
- Amanda Consol, Stage Director: The Turn of the Screw was awarded 2nd Prize in Division III of the 2011 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association.
- Steven Goldstein, Stage Director: Dialogues of the Carmelites was awarded 2nd Prize in Division V of the 2011 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association.
- Kenneth Shaw, Stage Director: The Cunning Little Vixen was awarded 3rd Prize in Division II of the 2011 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association.
- Jennifer Williams, Stage Director: L’Ile de Tulipatan was awarded 3rd Prize in Division III of the 2011 Opera Production Competition sponsored by the National Opera Association
Another great year for CCM Opera!
The awards will be presented at the Gala Banquet of the NOA National Convention on January 7, 2012. For convention information www.noa.org.
Stage director and specialist on Shakespeare, Daniel Fish will be in residence at CCM Opera giving a workshop on speaking Shakespeare.
Daniel Fish is a stage director based in New York City and Berlin. He began his career directing the plays of Shakespeare and Moliere and in recent years has made new work from sources as varied as Elliott Smith’s album FROM A BASEMENT ON A HILL, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA. He has directed plays by Chekhov, Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, Clifford Odets, Charles L. Mee, Sarah Ruhl, David Rabe, Roland Schimmelpfennig and Sheila Callaghan. In New York City, his work has been produced by Signature Theatre, Classic Stage Company, The Juilliard School, HERE, and The Zipper, which his production of TRUE LOVE opened in 2001. He has also created work for Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts Shakespeare Theater. Daniel Fish has taught directing at The Yale School of Drama, Princeton University, University of California at San Diego, and Bard College.
■ Room 300 in the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center at CCM
■ Tuesday, November 15th 4:00pm – 6:00pm & 7:00pm – 10:00pm
■ Wednesday, November 16th 3:00pm – 6:00pm & 7:00pm – 10:00pm
World renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe joined us at CCM Opera on Thursday for an inspiring two hours of conversation and Q&A with students and faculty.
Ms. Blythe recently performed the role of Fricka in Wagner’s Opera Die Walküre live from the Metropolitan Opera HD Broadcast. She will be singing this Saturday May 28th in Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the Cincinnati May Festival.
Mezzo-Soprano Stephanie Blythe visits CCM Opera this Thursday from 2:00pm – 4:00pm in DVAC 300 for a Q&A session with CCM Opera students and faculty.
Ms. Blythe was most recently featured in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD production of Wagner’s Die Walküre as Fricka.
This session is open to all CCM Opera Students and Faculty.
The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for 2011/2012 will be held at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on October 22, 2011 at 10 AM in Werner Recital Hall. The Judges for the Audition will be announced in early June. The Regional Auditions will once again be held in Chicago at the Music Institute on Sunday November 6. They are planning to broadcast the Regional Auditions on WFMT in Chicago. Details for 2011/2012 will be posted later this summer at: http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/auditions/national/
This year the National Council is planning to make it easier for singers to register on-line.
Click here to visit Cincinnati Opera’s website and read the official press release.
Click here to read Janelle Gelfand’s article that details this exciting joint venture between Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera.
Opera Fusion: New Works builds on an established and successful four-year partnership between Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera. In 2007, Cincinnati Opera and CCM Opera launched The Corbett Foundation Opera Fusion program, created to promote and enhance young artist training opportunities, collaborative academic programming, internships, and an ongoing artistic relationship between the organizations. Opera Fusion: New Works, which is funded entirely by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, allows this existing relationship to expand into new areas. Opera Fusion: New Works will be jointly administered by representatives from each of the collaborating organizations. Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations of Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, J. Ralph Corbett Chair of CCM Opera, will act as co-artistic directors for the program.
• The 2011 CCM Opera Scholarship competition was also reviewed by Rafael de Acha, one of the many correspondents from ConcertoNet.com.
If you were not able to attend last weekend’s exciting competition, you can read Rafael’s account by clicking here.
CCM Opera is proud to announce the winners of the 2011 CCM Opera Scholarship Competition. This year the performers were exceptionally talented and it made for an exciting afternoon of singing.
Youthful interpretation of ‘Figaro’ refreshing
Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” has been called the perfect comic opera. At its most basic, it is a witty bedroom farce of misplaced kisses, intercepted letters and mistaken identities involving a Count with a wandering eye and his houseful of clever servants. But beneath the surface, “Figaro” is also one of the most profound achievements of Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. There are issues of class struggle, as well as real love and forgiveness. The opera provides not only a rollicking night of theater, but also beautiful melodies, glorious ensembles and ravishing arias such as the Countess’ despairing and luminous “Dove sono.” It’s a staple of major opera houses. So it was refreshing to see the youthful interpretation presented Friday night by the promising opera students at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, in the intimate surroundings of Patricia Corbett Theater.
Throughout the comic scenes, the intrigue and the moments of reflection, the human nature of the characters shone through, thanks to the inventive, lively and intelligent staging by
Robin Guarino, chair of the opera department. And because “Figaro” is an ensemble opera, it was ideal for this young cast consisting of uniformly fine voices and several standouts, who impressed Friday’s sold-out audience. (The production has two different casts.) The upstairs-downstairs plot involves the impending wedding of the servants Figaro (Noel Bouley) and Susanna (Xi Wang). The philandering Count (Luis Alejandro Orozco) has designs on Susanna, to the distress of the Countess (Meghan Tarkington). She enlists the help of the servantsand the page, Cherubino (Audrey Walstrom), to teach the Count a lesson.
Bouley communicated easily with a firm, attractive voice, and gave a heartfelt performance as Figaro. He was convincing, whether rolling passionately on the marital bed with Susanna, facing off with his boss or conveying the torment of a betrayed lover in his Act IV aria, “Aprite un po’ quegli’ occhi” (Open your eyes) warning men about women. Orozco cut a charismatic figure as the lecherous Count Almaviva. His Count swaggered with a touch of cruelty. He projected an imposing presence, both vocally and dramatically, and his facial expressions (one of the benefits of a small theater) were memorable. As the Countess Almaviva, Tarkington brought dignity and a penetrating soprano to the role of the unjustly neglected wife. She delivered a touching “Porgi, amor” and later, a beautifully felt “Dove sono.” Wang was charming as the young bride Susanna. Her pure-toned soprano and gentle expression were ideal for her Act IV love song, “Deh vieni, non tardar” (Oh come, don’t delay). And in the “pants role,” Walstrom brought out the awkward ardor of the lovelorn Cherubino. One of the evening’s highlights was her “Voi che sapete.”
Thomas Umfrid’s set design – high walls with tall windows, which seamlessly changed from indoors to outdoors — beautifully captured the faded luster of the aristocratic villa. The garden scene, which is often a hodge-podge of figures in the dark, was magical. A spectacular tree with hanging lanterns descended and centered the stage, with a black, fiber-optic curtain simulating twinkling stars as a backdrop.
Mozart’s witty ensembles included fine performances in secondary roles: Jill Phillips portrayal of Marcellina was funny and Thomas Richards was fine as Bartolo. Ian Jose Ramirez played Basilio as an annoying musician Rounding out the cast, Sakinah A. Davis made a charming Barbarina, and Dashiell Waterbury was fine as Don Curzio. Guarino made the entrance of the gardener (Timothy J. Bruno) very funny. The chorus of peasants performed well and added life to the stage. It was only in the orchestra pit that we were reminded these were students. In fact, the musicians were all undergraduates. There were a few rough edges in the strings, and times when stage and pit were not quite together.
Still, the overture bristled with energy, and throughout the evening, the winds and brass were quite good. The atmospheric, light accompaniment to Cherubino’s “Voi che sapete” was lovely. Conductor Annunziata Tomaro led persuasively, and her tempos propelled the music well.
In ‘Figaro,’ women rule!
Something unusual is taking place behind the scenes in the production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” running through Sunday in Patricia Corbett Theater at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. The conductors, director, master coach, stage manager and the production head are all women. In addition, women are taking charge backstage in costumes, wigs and makeup, props, and even choreographing fight scenes. In all, 10 women are working in leadership roles behind the scenes of “Figaro.” (That doesn’t count two women performing as concertmaster, and two others on fortepiano). Women are slowly making strides in classical music, taking on roles that, throughout history, traditionally went to men – such as the conductor, opera director and concertmaster of the orchestra. Mozart’s opera, based on a French comedy by Beaumarchais, takes place on a single day of madness in the palace of Count Almaviva, as the French Revolution is brewing. We spoke to “Figaro” director Robin Guarino, who holds the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera at CCM, and to conductor and faculty member Annunziata Tomaro, who was awarded an “outstanding woman conductor” grant by the League of American Orchestras in 2010.
Question: How did you happen to have so many women in prominent roles behind the scenes in “Figaro”?
Guarino: We didn’t do it intentionally. But it really is interesting. I think it happens here at CCM because we have strong female role models. We’re coming from the highest levels of the profession, and we really love to teach, but also love to mentor. That’s the case with Annunziata, who has mentored Huan Jing (who will conduct one performance). Then we have Marie-France LeFebvre, who’s the master coach. I met her at the Metropolitan Opera, when she was the assistant conductor for “Figaro” at the Met, and I directed it. Then you have Michele Kay, head of production and the chair of the theater department. All of a sudden, you have all these women in key positions who are very much supporting the advancement and nurturing of women.
Q: How tough is it for women to succeed at the top in classical music?
Guarino: As a woman, it is so competitive that you have to walk in the room and know that you’re going to be better than everyone in the room. Just to succeed as a concertmaster, as a woman conductor, as a woman director – you have to be up on your game, and you have to master your material. You have to be better. That’s what I think is happening. Women are getting stronger and feeling more confident.
Tomaro: Certainly, the world, in part, is more open and willing to see women in roles they haven’t seen before. But those expectations are perhaps different or greater. So the possibility is there, but the process of achieving is still challenging.
Q: Why is “The Marriage of Figaro” sometimes called the most perfect opera?
Tomaro: It is such a gem. It has perfect arias. It has perfect ensembles. The Second Act finale has to be the highest representation of that form. It was so common for the midpoint of the opera to have the high-point of confusion, and (Mozart) mastered that.
Q: Looking at the women of “Figaro,” how do you see the character of Susanna, the maid?
Guarino: Everyone loves her because she’s always working, always thinking, kind and generous. She’s the perfect partner for Figaro. They haven’t had formal education and the benefits of class and aristocracy, but they are loved by people from all classes. Their very liberty and independence and their spirit – we’re on the edge of the whole world exploding in the French Revolution. Those are the risks right now, and you want to root for them all. And Susanna is the heart of that couple.
Q: What’s the most challenging for the conductor?
Tomaro: What’s hard in general about Mozart opera is finding the right tempi that work for the dramatic action, but also for the style of the music and the types of singers who are singing. You need to find the right transparency, but also the energy, as well. That’s a challenge and always shifting and dependent on the situation.
Q: Thomas Umfrid’s set designs are beautiful. What were you trying to achieve?
Guarino: I wanted it to be realistic in architecture and feeling and in period, but very human. … It has the aristocratic scale of the villa, but you feel that its time has passed, the paint is crackling, and there’s a little bit of disrepair. You’ll look at the set and say, “Oh, that’s the Countess’ room.” It’s about human beings, in a situation, in a time of life, in a time of history that is about to erupt. And it is about basic core human rights and values. We wanted that humanity to come out.
Can CCM stay a jewel?
Mezzo-soprano Audrey Walstrom of Los Alamos, N.M., could have gone anywhere in the country to study voice. But she chose the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. ”It has an excellent reputation in the voice world because the teachers are excellent,” said Walstrom, 26. “For me, it just felt like a great fit.” Attracting students such as Walstrom, who’s working on a graduate degree, is a key to CCM’s future as one of the premier music schools in the country. CCM helps to put this region in the cultural big leagues. It has connections to both the community and the broader world – from the Preparatory Department where parents take their children for piano, ballet or acting lessons, to its graduates who star on the world’s greatest stages. Audiences can see an astonishing 1,000 performances at CCM each year, many of them free.
Locally, CCM offers an incredible pool of talent – not only conductors, musicians, dancers, composers and music teachers, but also executives running important media outlets, such as the CEO of Cumulus Radio Group, which operates five stations in Cincinnati. But keeping CCM among the elite won’t be easy. UC is bracing for budget cuts of up to 20 percent next year, which would restrict the classes it can offer, the professors it can attract and the students it can lure with scholarships. CCM also is strapped with a $4.9 million loan it must pay off for its new fleet of Steinway pianos. The college is under particular pressure because it depends on private donations to fund scholarships for students choosing among the nation’s top music schools. If it’s forced to cut the nearly $15 million it pays out in scholarships each year, many of those most talented students will go elsewhere. CCM leaders know that raising more money to fund more scholarships is the best path to remaining elite. Meanwhile, department chairs are going through budgets to determine where they can make worst-case scenario cuts. ”It’s getting to the critical point,” interim Dean Frank Weinstock said. “For CCM to stay where it is, private funds are going to become more and more necessary. Scholarship dollars are paramount. We just need more.” UC’s top officials have pledged to try to protect CCM and other high-profile programs in budget talks this spring and to keep funneling money to scholarships. ”I know it’s a jewel at UC,” said the university’s new provost, Santa Ono, who played cello and piano as a child in the Preparatory Division of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. “It’s one of our key assets. I’m committed to doing everything I can to protect that position nationally. I haven’t made a final decision, but I’ve made it very clear that I won’t do something simple-minded like across-the-board cuts.” Ono has launched a search for a new CCM dean. The creative vitality of CCM’s graduates is the currency it carries into the marketplace, but that’s a hard thing to measure in dollars. CCM’s assets are considerable. It occupies a $93.2 million complex on UC’s main campus and welcomed a record enrollment of 1,468 students this year.
Last fall, 713 applicants vied for 20 musical theater slots, while 434 singers competed for 43 opera graduate-school spots. CCM has turned out dozens of performers with international resumes, from household names such as Broadway star Faith Prince to recent rising stars such as Xian Zhang, the first woman appointed to the conducting staff of the New York Philharmonic. But the financial pressures it faces are intense, one factor that helped drive the former dean, Douglas Knehans, out of the job last year after he feuded with faculty. In contrast to some UC colleges that rely mostly on students from this region, CCM faces pressure to attract students from throughout the nation. It operates in rarefied air where music schools battle for the best students, with the best offer usually winning. ”It’s a cause for concern for everyone,” said Earl Rivers, director of CCM’s choral studies program and head of ensembles and conducting. “There are some schools in the country that are able to fully fund their students, such as Yale. And we compete with them in the choral department. We do fully fund some of our students (about 70 percent) but we can’t fund them all.” Roberto Diaz, president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, said CCM “has a terrific reputation as one of the really important music schools in this country. ”Ultimately, it’s the faculty that makes the school important,” he said, “not its affiliation to other institutions.” Curtis is an elite music school with just 165 students – all on full scholarship. ”It’s so competitive with music schools now,” Diaz said. “Students are auditioning for four, five and six schools, and there are terrific teachers in all of these schools. They’ll make their decision (based on) getting into the right studio and how much scholarship they’re offered.” During a recent stroll across the CCM grounds in the heart of UC’s main campus, the sounds of trumpets, pianos and violins drifted from Memorial Hall across the plaza of CCM Village, a complex designed by master architect Henry Cobb. In the nearby Dieterle Vocal Arts Center, overlooking Nippert Stadium, opera singers were staging scenes from “The Marriage of Figaro.”
Inside Corbett Center for the Performing Arts, students were studying music history, theory and composition in technologically advanced “smart classrooms.” At the other end of the center, budding theater designers were painting sets and creating costumes. A basement rehearsal room buzzed with the sounds of the Jazz Ensemble. Upstairs, ballet dancers rehearsed, actors learned their lines and musical theater babies tapped out routines for Broadway auditions. In a state-of-the-art electronic media center, media wizards edited their own films. CCM measures its success by its stars. Its graduates populate concert halls, opera stages and Broadway shows, help produce TV shows and movies and compose symphonies and film scores. Locally, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has more than a dozen CCM graduates among its ranks. Musical theater alumni who have been on Broadway include Karen Olivo, Tony Award winner for the recent “West Side Story” revival, and Leslie Kritzer, whose Broadway resume includes featured roles in “Legally Blonde,” “A Catered Affair” and “Sondheim on Sondheim.” Many of CCM’s opera grads join prestigious young artist programs with major opera companies. Behind the scenes, faculty members say, they are learning to make do with less. Said Robin Guarino, who holds the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera, supported by the school’s largest endowment fund: “Obviously there’s concern about the endowment, because the economic situation is forcing us to be extremely hands-on with our budget, but also to be creative and work together. ”It’s cut-to-the-chase time.”
The opera department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music received a total of 7 awards at the National Opera Association annual convention in San Antonio over the weekend.
The association awarded four of CCM’s Mainstage and Studio Series of operas from the 2009-10 season some of its highest honors. In addition to the 4 top awards noted in The Enquirer article, the department received two awards in Level 11 — “Opera d’Arte” undergraduate opera productions. “La Canterina” took second place (Wesley Lawrence, director) and “Gianni Schicchi” took third place (Kenneth Shaw, director).
The schedule for Mr. Johnson’s residency is as follows:
Friday, January 7th – 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
• All Franz Schubert Masterclass
Werner Recital Hall at CCM
Friday, January 7th – 7:00 p.m.
• A public lecture by Graham Johnson on the Life and Lieder of Franz Schubert
Werner Recital Hall at CCM
Saturday, January 8th – 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
• Life and Songs of Gabirel Fauré Masterclass
Werner Recital Hall at CCM
All events with Graham Johnson are free and open to the public.
For more information about CCM and directions to this special event click here.
The CCM Opera department would like offer congratulations to Noel Bouley, Yoongeong Lee, Abigail Pashke, John Christopher Adams and Mark Diamond. This January they will travel to Houston to compete in semi-finals in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition.
I just completed a very successful run in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with the Cape Town Opera. Thank you CCM for preparing me so well for the professional world! Reviews are posted below. Enjoy!
Excerpt from The Cape Times:
Opening night saw Bronwen Forbay make her debut, both in Cape Town and in the title role. We have waited long to hear this Durban-born soprano and, given the performance, one wonders why! She is a wholly convincing Lucia, portraying a girlish naivety that becomes increasingly suggestive of a more fundamental mental instability until the celebrated Mad Scene of the final act reveals her as having lost touch with reality. The portrayal was chillingly accurate in its detailing: the angle of the head, the fiddling with the hair, the apparently all-seeing eyes. Coupled to her fine acting is a triumphant account of a glorious vocal role. She started with a “Regnava nel silenzio” that was precisely controlled, with rock solid intonation and precise delineation of ornamented lines . . . by the time “Veranno a te sull’aure” came around, her voice had acquired a lovely round warmth and a beguiling sense of color. She is a fine exponent of ‘bel canto,’ with delicious flexibility, a smoothly managed transition through the registers, and a technical armoury that allows her to indulge in the most taxing passage work and the most awkward leaps with quasi instrumental precision. The famous flute cadenza . . . was greeted with a lengthy ovation. – The Cape Times, October 2010
Blood smeared with a dagger swaying already in hand and madness evident in her, the young soprano Bronwen Forbay (of Durban) enthralled the audience of the ArtsScape opera house on Saturday night.
It was Forbay‘s interpretation of the familiar mad scene in the third act of Cape Town Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor that left one overwhelmed. But at the beginning of the opera, her excellent singing was a taste of what was to come. In fact, one was left in great anticipation of what she would do in the mad scene, “Il dolce suono … Spargi D’Amaro pianto.”
Donizetti’s opera is based on a story by Sir Walter Scott, based in Scotland. Enrico, head of the Ravenswood Castle, was in a financial trouble and forced his sister, Lucia, to marry a rich husband, Arturo. Lucia is in love with Edgardo, but has no choice but to marry Arturo. On their wedding night, however, she becomes insane and kills Arturo before her beloved Edgardo sees her again.
The role of Lucia in this opera is one of the greats for a coloratura soprano, who sings high notes, fast, light runs, and lyric phrases. Forbay’s voice has all these qualities, and especially her high notes are perfectly placed and cured.
Forbay’s intonation was pure and the sound is easily produced. Lucia is destined to be one of her signature roles.
As the aggrieved Edgardo, the local tenor Given Nkosi impressed. Nkosi’s voice beamed, and his performance was dramatically strong. He and Forbay’s duet in the first act was nothing less than exciting.
As the evil Enrico, the Italian Paolo Ruggiero provided a strong interpretation. His voice demonstrates a well-established vocal technique, and his performance was, on the whole, convincing. Enrico could have been even more terrifying and evil. The famous and beloved sextet – Nkosi, Forbay and Ruggiero with Monika Voysey (Alisa), Mthunzi Mbombela (Arturo) and Xolela Sixaba (Raimondo) – is powerful and impressive. Voysey and Sixaba’s singing in the rest of the opera must be singled out.
This is a repeat of 1997 Angelo Gobbato’s presentation and his direction is still good, although the set had a static feel. Scenery is largely brought about with Faheem Bardien’s most excellent lighting, but in some scenes the lighting is just too extravagant.
This performance is definitely worth seeing and experiencing. It’s a no-frills production, sung well overall.
By Wayne Muller, Die Burger, 20 Oct 2010
‘Lead singers save us from a bland Lucia’
By Carl Fourie
Lucia di Lammermoor
Director: Angelo Gobbato
Soloists: Bronwen Forbay, Given Nkosi, Paolo Ruggiero, Xolela Sixaba, Monika Voysey
Cape Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kamal Khan
Cape Town Opera Chorus trained by Albert Horne and Elisabeth Frandsen
Venue: Artscape Opera House
The opening night of Cape Town Opera’s (CTO) Lucia di Lammermoor was dedicated to the memory of the late Joan Sutherland, who died this week and who made the role of Lucia so much her own.
The South African coloratura soprano, Bronwen Forbay, sang the title role. She was greeted with rapturous applause after the infamous mad scene. The applause was thoroughly deserved: she managed the floral vocal lines with aplomb and fused these beautifully with Lucia’s deranged state of mind.
Given Nkosi (tenor) sang her lover Edgardo. He also earned appreciation from the audience and sang with commitment. Apart from Forbay, he was the most committed dramatically to his character.
Enrico was sung by the Italian baritone Paolo Ruggiero. He has a gloriously strong voice that is fully developed in all its registers. Unfortunately, he is not an actor. As examples, the first meeting between him and Edgardo, as well as their final encounter, were amateurish and unconvincing.
The chaplain was pleasingly sung by baritone Xolela Sixaba, who also took well to his character.
Arturo was sung by tenor Mthunzi Mbombela and Alisa by soprano Monika Voysey. Both these singers are competently developing as professionals. Mbombela had one or two unstable lines, and Voysey should have been made up to portray a much older woman. The vocal highlights were the sextet and Lucia’s final mad arias. The former was a glorious exercise in vocal ensemble as well as careful balance with the orchestra. And Lucia’s solo vocal fireworks were exquisitely executed, not just in accuracy, but also with musical sensitivity. The orchestra under Kamal Khan played very well. They were supportive at the tender moments and dramatic where it counts. Strings were well intoned and harpist Jane Theron and flautist Gabriele von Durckheim had beautiful solo passages.
The Voice of the Nation Chorus was well trained by Albert Horne and Elisabeth Frandsen. The initial male chorus battled a bit with following Khan’s time, but otherwise gave a satisfying performance.
If it’s great singing you want, you won’t be disappointed with this production of Lucia. Décor and acting, however, were rather anaemic. Peter Cazalet’s monolithic set and bland costuming needed a bold dash of colour somewhere: a blue fountain, a green tree, a red moon, a yellow bouquet at the wedding?
Published on the web by Tonight on October 20, 2010.
The CCM Student Tribunal presents Cincinnati’s own early music ensemble, the Catacousic Consort, with Cincinnati’s own international opera superstar, Michael Maniaci, performing love songs from 17th-century Italy with theorbo, lirone, and viola da gamba. Join us to hear this amazing talent to share an intimate evening of beautiful music with Michael Maniaci (NY), Daniel Swenberg (NY), and Annalisa Pappano.
Location: Werner Recital Hall, CCM
Time: 8:00 p.m.
This past weekend a number of talented singers competed in the Metropolitan Opera National Council (MONC) Auditions for Southern Ohio here at CCM. CCM Opera is proud to announce two of its singers have advanced to the next round. Congratulations to soprano Xi Wang & mezzo-soprano Audrey Walstrom. Amongst a very stiff competition they were singled out by the judges and now move on to the Central Region Finals in Chicago. Also receiving accolades was mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel who was given an encouragement award by the judges.
MONC is a program designed to discover promising young opera singers and assist in the development of their careers. Many of the world’s foremost singers including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Samuel Ramey, Frederica von Stade, Deborah Voigt and Dolora Zajick have received awards from the National Council. Annually, approximately 100 former auditioners appear in Metropolitan Opera productions.