Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Big voices – including new Italian tenor – anchor Portland Opera’s Big Night concert

Giordano Lucà
After a hiatus of three years, Portland Opera’s brought back its Big Night concert on Saturday (April 8), and it was a smashing success. The Keller Auditorium, a big barn of a hall, was fairly full from the orchestra floor to the third balcony despite the fact that the Oregon Symphony was preforming Mozart’s “Requiem” at the same time. The centerpiece of Portland Opera’s festive Big Night program was a trio of up and coming stars who delivered spectacular performances of a variety of arias and ensemble pieces from the operatic and musical repertoire. That included Italian tenor Giordano Lucà who made his American debut in this concert. They were augmented by exceptional performances by Portland Opera’s Resident Artists and solid work by the Portland Opera Orchestra under it Music Director George Manahan.

Lucà displayed a gorgeous, lyric voice that had power to spare. His singing of “È la solita storia del pastore” from Cilèa’s “L’Arlesiana” was imbued with an eloquent anguish. He let out all of the horses for a very long, and wonderfully sustained final note in “La donna è mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” which brought down the house. He teamed up with soprano Vanessa Isiguen to create an effervescent “Libiamo ne’lieti calici” from “La Traviata” (Verdi again).
Vanessa Isiguen
Not to be outdone, Isiguen captivated the audience with silvery and evocative “Ebben? Ne andrò Lontana” from Catalani’s “La Wally” and returned later to implore the heavens with a passionate “Inneggiamo” from Mascagni’s “Cavaleria Rusticana.” She collaborated with Lucà and the company’s Resident Artists soprano Antonia Tamer and tenor Aaron Short for a lovely “Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso” from Puccini’s “La Rondine.”
Will Liverman
Baritone Will Liverman bowled the listeners over with irresistible rendition of “Largo al factotum” from “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (Rossini) and delivered an infectious “A Woman is a Sometime Thing” from “Porgy and Bess” (Gershwin). He joined up with Isiguen for a medley of excerpts from “Carousel” (Rogers and Hammerstein), including “If I Loved You.”
Tamer, Farrar, Thorn, Short, Penn, and Guidi

Tamer and Short joined forces with their Resident Artists colleagues mezzo Kate Farrar and baritone Ryan Thorn plus alumna mezzo Hannah Penn and irrepressible bass-baritone Deac Guidi to whip up a delightful “Alla bella Despinetta” from “Così fan tutte” (Mozart). Short and Thorn elicited laughter from all corners of the hall with “Agony” from “Into the Woods” (Sondheim), and they joined tenor Joseph Muir to bet on the horses with a snappy “Fugue for Tinhorns” from “Guys and Dolls” (Loesser). Farrar and Tamer sang “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” with absolute conviction from “West Side Story” (Bernstein).

The orchestra sounded excellent under the baton of Manahan, but its sound was too light-weight for “Ride of the Valkyries” (Wagner). The chorus, prepared by Nicholas Fox, sang with gusto but another dozen voices would have given it more heft. An extra treat was the company’s children’s chorus, which sang a selection from “Carmen” with the Opera Chorus.

Some folks tout the demise of classical music, especially standard repertoire, but judging the lively and large turnout at the Keller and the exceptional performances, Portland Opera’s gamble for a big night on the town was a pretty darn swell.

No comments: