* Notes *
The Adler Fellows Gala Concert at Herbst Theatre last night involved much repertoire in the French language, there were no arias from Wagner or Strauss. It was refreshing to see the orchestra on the stage as they started the concert with the overture from Ruslan and Lyudmila. Maya Lahyani was the consummate singer/actress as she performed "Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix" from Samson et Dalila. Her dark, husky tones suited the role. When she went on to sing Carmen opposite of Brian Jagde in "C'est toi! C'est moi!" in the second half, she was also incredible, the fatalism of the character was apparent. Jagde sounded bright and reedy here, as he did for "E lucevan le stele."
Austin Kness sang "È sogno? o realtà," Ford's lyric baritone aria from Falstaff, heartily. On the other hand, Sara Gartland labored to sing "Ah rendetemi la speme...Qui la voce" from Il Puritani. Her voice is distinctive, and she sounded better in her duet with Kness, "Étranger, te voilà, comme tu l'avais dit!" I am not familiar with the Massenet opera this piece is from, Thaïs, but from this excerpt it seemed rather absurd.
Ryan Belongie and Susannah Biller sang "Io t'abbraccio" from Rodelinda with great beauty. There were a few bars in which they did not sound perfectly in tune with each other, but they recovered quickly. The harpsichord, played by Allen Perriello, was lovely. After the intermission Belongie sang "Venga pur, minacci e frema" from Mitridate, Re di Ponto. He sounded pretty, but at times he was hard to hear. Susannah Biller, on the other hand, was clear and strong in Ophelia's mad scene in Thomas' Hamlet.
The most impressive singers were Leah Crocetto and David Lomelí. Crocetto sang "È strano...Ah, fors'è lui...Sempre libera" admirably and Lomelí sounded incredibly robust from off stage. Their duet from Guillaume Tell was likewise fine. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the concert was the end, when Lomelí sang "Nessun dorma," with Tamara Sanikidze playing the celeste. It was especially moving when the other Adlers came in as the chorus.
* Tattling *
There was some talking during the music. I was seated by a person who was so large that she could not put her arms inside the armrests of the seat. Her left elbow would have easily been touching me if I were less petite. I felt quite grateful to be small, but I did have to stay still in order not to disturb the established equilibrium.