Consisting of active professional opera singers, the level of talent in this one small building was staggering. Kimberly Giordano sang the title role with a warm and remarkably polished voice. She invested the role with true emotion that only added to her vocal performance; when toward the end Iolanta could finally see, there was nothing lacking for a sense of wonder and amazement in her rendering.
Bass Damien Geter's King Rene was amazing to listen to. Possessed of a rolling, resonant voice even at the lowest register, both his performance in ensembles and as a soloist was compelling. Zachary Lenox sang the role of Ibn Hakia, and his Monologue was driving and pointed--one could feel the tension crackling between Ibn Hakia and the king. Also of note was Aaron Short, singing the role of Vaudemont. It's always a pleasure to hear a tenor singing completely full-voiced and have it sound so effortless, natural and powerful.
It wasn't just the principals evincing an incredibly high caliber of singing. A number of voices familiar to Portland opera fans were among the group as well. Erik Hundtoft sang the role of Robert with gusto, singing a passionate and robust aria. Beth Madsen Bradford was Marta, and it was a sheer pleasure to hear the quality and richness as she sang deep into her modal voice early on. There were fine ensemble pieces, including a swooning trio with Marta, Brigitta (Jocelyn Claire Thomas) and Laura (Rebecca Sacks.) The final chorus with the entire cast was epic, with a quiet a cappella moment after a spectacular fortissimo that was arresting in both effect and execution.
The small orchestra was full of excellent players as well, and artistic director Lance Inouye (also wielding the baton) clearly has a vision for this ensemble, a vision that should excite Portland opera goers and fans of downright excellent singing. If there was any problem at all it was that the voices were so large for such a small hall...but if that's a problem, it's one I'll gladly endure.