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).
|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.