Monday, August 30, 2010

Opera Manhattan's Eugene Onegin

Opera Manhattan Repertory Theatre has always been a scrappy, ambitious troupe of players. From its beginnings with a single pick-up concert, the group has grown to heights that include acclaimed performances of Schönberg's Erwartung and Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle (you look up the Hungarian--I'm tired!) and a planned production of Susannah in June, 2011, in celebration of Carlisle Floyd's 85th birthday. The upcoming season also includes an anniversary gala, a fully staged La Boheme, a revival of its very popular Hansel and Gretel, and separate festivals of one-act operas and newly-composed operas. Merely typing that list leaves your intrepid reporter breathless!

OMRT's Summer Concert Series began with an Anna Bolena about which I raved two weeks ago, and ended its run this week with an even more stunning Eugene Onegin. I've never made a secret about my extreme fondness--some might call it idolatry, to which I say po-tay-to, po-tah-to--for Mozart and the bel canto boys Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. I have been known to enjoy later composers, but it always comes as a surprise to me that beautiful music happened after 1850. I had seen Eugene Onegin once before, but to tell the truth, all I remembered was a stunning visual for the opening scene and the very bad wig and iffy singing of Lensky. Imagine my delight when I learned how beautiful and compelling this opera can be.

First and foremost I must once again rave about the leading soprano in Sunday's cast. Anna Noggle sang beautifully and inhabited her role completely, gracefully overcoming the limits of a concert format to show Tatyana's many conflicting emotions. Onegin was mad to turn down her impetuous overtures of love. This beautiful young lady has already accomplished a lot, and one sees a bright future for her.

Lensky was sung quite well by Eric Sampson. An even, stentorian sound, a bigger voice than is usually cast as Lensky, but that is certainly not a criticism in this case. Anna Yelizarova sang the role of Olga quite beautifully, and because of a late cancellation, also sang the nurse Filippyevna's role. (It was a bit confusing, and no announcement was made about this.) A rich, creamy contralto and clear understanding of her roles were her considerable offerings to the party. Special mention goes to John Wasiniak for his charming portrayal the neighbor Triquet. His too-brief song in the party scene delighted the audience.

It's clear that a tremendous amount of preparation went into this concert and into the Anna Bolena of two weeks ago. From all appearances, the concert Die Zauberflöte of last week suffered middle child syndrome. It seemed under-rehearsed, and in context of these other two concerts, such an effect was felt quite distinctly. James Siranovich, who did a fine job as music director of Onegin, seemed in a hurry to get home when he served as pianist for Zauberflöte. Jenny Greene is a good young soprano and will blossom into a very good Pamina indeed. Duncan Hartman was the biggest standout as Sarastro, largely because of his assurance and the very real sense that he knew what he was singing. This reporter had to stifle a murmured "Oh, Daddy!" as Mr. Hartman finished "In diesen heilgen Hallen". Which is a constrast to much of the rest of the cast, which inspired murmurs of "Oh, brother!"

1 comment:

Alfredel said...

Interesting read...keep it coming!