Jim Lowe / Staff photo
Green Mountain Opera Festival’s Gala Concert closed with the entire cast in Charles Trenet’s popular French song, “La mer,” Friday at the UVM Recital Hall.
It’s all about voices. There’s much more it to it than that, but Green Mountain Opera Festival’s annual Gala Concert on Friday at the University of Vermont Recital Hall “unveiled” the spectacular voices — and actors — who will be performing in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” next weekend at the Barre Opera House.
Opera’s most charismatic Lothario will be played by a most charismatic baritone, both vocally and physically. Michael Mayes, tall and handsome, exhibited plenty of virility as well as vocal beauty in Tonio’s “Si Può” from Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci.”
True, it would have been more touching if he had let the music breathe a little more naturally, as he did so expressively in “If I would ever leave you” from Frederick Loewe’s “Camelot.”
In possession of equal stage presence, both vocally and physically, was the upcoming production’s Commendatore. Solomon Howard, with his commandingly rich bass, delivered a brilliant, florid and joyful performance of “Arise, ye subterranean” from Purcell’s “The Tempest.”
Soprano Caitlyn Lynch, who will play Donna Anna, proved an especially expressive and emotionally convincing singer with a pliable brilliant voice in “Ain’t it a pretty night?” Joined by baritone Jonathan Lasch, Masetto in “Don Giovanni,” they sang a very warm and lyrical “Baigne d’eau des mains” from Massenet’s “Thaïs.”
Wesley Rogers, who will sing Don Ottavio, proved an emotional and beautiful voiced tenor in “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” from Bizet’s “Carmen.” Soprano Melinda Whittington delivered a full-voiced aria from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte” that lacked expressiveness but she has the right look and sound for Donna Elvira.
Baritone Tom Corbeil had his own theatrical charisma as Leperello in “Sola, sola in buio loco” from “Don Giovanni,” proving a fine comic actor and singer. The high quality of all those in this scene is certainly reassuring about the coming weekend’s performances.
The festival’s Emerging Artists fared well too, often performing with more nuance and musicality than at their showcase last Sunday in Stowe. Particularly impressive was a warm and expressive, as well as witty, performance of “Là ci darem la mano,” a seduction scene from “Don Giovanni,” by baritone David Castillo and soprano Shantelle Przybylo.
Snippets of Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring,” this year’s Emerging Artists’ production to be presented in full Thursday at the Sugarbush Resort Gate House in Warren, proved promising. Among a largely excellent cast, soprano Kelsey Boesche proved brilliant vocally and theatrically, as the loud and pompous Lady Billows.
The expert piano accompaniment was shared by Emma Smith, Joseph Lawson and Bruce Stasyna, the festival’s artistic director. The concert closed with a number of pop songs that were as well sung as they were fun. Imagine “Hound Dog” sung by a bevy of beautiful up-and-coming opera stars!
Green Mountain Opera Festival
— Thursday, June 20: Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring,” $35, Sugarbush Resort, Gate House, Warren, 7:30 p.m.
— Friday, June 21: Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” $70-$25, Barre Opera House, 7:30 p.m.
— Sunday, June 23: Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” $70-$25, Barre Opera House, 3 p.m.
For tickets or information, go online to www.greenmountainoperafestival.com.
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