The singers who will open Portland Opera's season with "La Boheme" made a strong case for themselves on the stage at the Scottish Rite Center on Thursday evening. The concert of popular opera arias and duets had an impromptu flair because Christopher Mattaliano, general director of Portland Opera, gave a brief introduction to each selection and the singer or singers. An audience of around 150 heard some terrific performances from the Italian repertoire with a little Mozart, Korngold, Bizet, Floyd, Gershwin, and Dvorak tossed in. I heard music from "Don Giovanni," "Rusalka," "Cosi Fan Tutti," "Tosca," "Pagliacci," "The Pearl Fishers," "La Cenerentola," "Porgy and Bess," "Susannah," "Die Tote Stadt," "Madame Butterfly," "Turandot," and the duet at the end of the first act of "La Boheme."
Because of the excessive carpeting in the Scottish Rite Center, I thought that it might be a problem for the audience to hear the singers, but their large voices overcame that hurdle easily as well as the distance from the stage (which seemed a little far away). In fact, they might not have had to have sing as loudly as they did. In any case, all of the singers were exceptional with Kelley Kaduce leading the way with a dramatic and moving aria from "Madame Butterfly." Robert Ainsley and Thomas Webb provided the accompaniment.
Mattaliano hinted that Portland Opera might try this kind of opera evening again. I would suggest that they print up a program to guide the audience through the selections - especially since no super titles are available.