Saturday, July 27, 2013

Minor nobles and nouveau moguls

Ginger Costa-Jackson
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
On Friday, July 26, I saw my fourth Glimmerglass Festival Opera production of the season, a new English version of Mr. Verdi's early opera Un giorno di regno (1840). This very clever, very funny new English adaptation by Ms. Kelley Rourke from Mr. Felice Romani's original Italian libretto is called King For a Day. The story and style resemble those of Rossini opera buffa. In the midst of preparations for two arranged weddings at the palace of the Baron Kelbar (which weddings, of course, would thwart the desires of the brides), the King of Poland arrives as a guest--but it's actually the courtier Belfiore in disguise, while the King himself is elsewhere. Each character's approach to Belfiore reveals his/her true nature and motivation, and Belfiore manipulates them all to create a happy outcome. Did I mention Belfiore himself has a history with one of the potential brides? Hilarity really does ensue.
Andrew Wilkowske, Jason Hardy, Jacqueline Echols
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass

This production, by director Christian Räth, designer Court Watson, choreographer Eric Sean Fogel, and conductor Joseph Colaneri, was brilliantly shiny and fast-paced, resembling a madcap 1930s comedy. It is full of elements I have often stated I don't like, such as updating the setting and using modern dance moves to 19th-century music. (There were no penguins.) In this case these things worked for me. It has been ages since I have laughed out loud at a live opera production like I did at King for a Day.

Of course, none of this would be possible without stellar performances. Ginger Costa-Jackson, whom we saw two seasons ago as Carmen, won me over completely by flinging herself into her melodramatic role as the Marchesa di Poggio. She is one of the arranged brides, a sophisticated young widow who is in love with Belfiore. As her character became more desperate and her comedy more physical--much more physical--her lovely singing became even more beautiful and dazzling. I hate to insert a small criticism, but Ms. Costa-Jackson's introductory aria, while quite nice, could have used some of that freedom and sparkle from Act II. Belfiore the impostor King was sung with gusto by Glimmerglass Young Artist Alex Lawrence. He was a wonderful match for Ms. Costa-Jackson's comedic talents, and the two seemed to have a delightful chemistry together. His singing is rich and pleasing, although one did occasionally desire more power from his low notes.

Jason Hardy, Sharin Apostolou, Andrew Wilkowske
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
Only three cast members were not Glimmerglass Young Artists--Ms. Costa-Jackson; Jason Hardy as Baron Kelbar, the patriarch trying to arrange all these marriages; and Andrew Wilkowske as La Rocca, a financier who wants to marry Kelbar's daughter Giulietta. Kelbar and La Rocca are delightful buffoons, and Messrs. Hardy and Wilkowske sang and acted them with great zeal and joy.

Sharin Apostolou, Jacqueline Echols
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
The Glimmerglass Young Artist cast were all every bit as delightful as singers and actors as the three more experienced performers. Young lovers Giulietta and Edoardo were played by Jacqueline Echols and Patrick O'Halloran. Both portrayed their roles successfully, embracing the comedy whole-heartedly and convincing us of their love. While Mr. O'Halloran did require a few scenes to be warmed up completely vocally, he was a pleasure to hear, and Ms. Echols was a delight from beginning to end. Joe Shadday deserves special credit for his very brief role as the aged Count Ivrea, the arranged bridegroom for the Marchesa. Ensemble member Sharin Apostolou, no stranger to these pages, also deserves kudos for her delightful portrayal of Baron Kelbar's secretary, an uncredited supernumerary role.  (The New York Times agrees with me on this.)

Regular audiences at Glimmerglass, lovers of Verdi, and even newcomers to opera--especially those who think they don't like opera--will all be glad if they buy tickets to this opera. A treat for the eyes and ears.

One more rave for the Overlook Mansion B& B, a short drive from Glimmerglass in charming Little Falls. Please click the link and check them out, and give them some business!

Alex Lawrence, Ginger Costa-Jackson
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass

Friday, July 26, 2013

Who would not weep?

I've had four straight weekends of opera going. I've seen two wonderful shows at Caramoor, and two wonderful shows at Glimmerglass. This weekend I have the delight of seeing two more shows at Glimmerglass. I don't know what I'll do for entertainment next weekend!

Nadine Sierra, Anthony Roth Costanzo, ensemble
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
On Thursday night, July 25, I came to Glimmerglass to see their new double bill Passions, which is based on the Stabat Mater (1736) of Mr. Pergolesi (a composer I never thought I'd be writing about here!) and Mr. David Lang's Pulitzer Prize-winning work The Little Match Girl Passion (2007). Mr. Lang also added a shorter choral work as a companion piece for this show, called When We Were Children. You will notice these are not operatic works. They are dramatic or performance pieces created from non-operatic vocal and choral works. And I'd call them very successful.

Stabat Mater is an ancient Latin hymn telling the story of Mary at the foot of the Cross. Mr. Pergolesi's Stabat Mater was performed by soprano Nadine Sierra and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. The pair gave a beautifully expressive, vocally stunning performance of the work, under the expert musical direction of conductor Speranza Scappucci with the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra. The voices of Ms. Sierra and Mr. Costanzo blended exquisitely, making Mr. Pergolesi's extensive use of parallel vocal lines and suspensions a delight.

Viktoria Munro as the Match Girl
Photo: Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
The concert work became a dance piece choreographed by Jessica Lang and danced by the two singers and a gaggle of Glimmerglass Young Artists. While I don't know the language of dance as I do opera, I think I can discern beautifully conceived and executed dance movements, performed by enthusiastic, expressive, sensitive young men and women. That is what I was privileged to see as I heard the heavenly and heart-rending strains of Pergolesi. The choreography, which included the two vocal soloists as well as the eight other dancers, was based on the text of the Stabat Mater. It was no surprise to see so many audience members visibly moved at the end, nor was it to hear and see the enthusiastic applause the entire ensemble earned.

The second half of the program was Mr. Lang's Little Match Girl Passion and its companion piece, When We Were Children. I am not very well qualified to discuss new music. I do call myself a bel canto bear in a verismo world, you'll recall. But I did like Mr. Lang's harmonic language, and his interesting rhythms and meters that appeared to be unmeasured, various lines contrasting each other metrically. I was less enamored with his use of text, particularly the at times percussive effect of echoing words and word fragments, almost as if projecting a stammer. The ensemble sang the narrative of the match girl while the children's chorus sang commentary, much like a Passion by Mr. Bach. One of the most affecting moments for me is when the libretto (by Mr. Lang, after sources including Hans Christian Anderson and St. Matthew) suddenly switches over to quote from St. Matthew, having the girl herself sing "Eli! Eli! (My God! My God!)" When We Were Children is based on the text by St. Paul, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."
At beautiful Glimmerglass
Photo:  BFF BS

I can not praise highly enough the performing ensemble under the stage direction of Francesca Zambello. The Glimmerglass Festival Children's Chorus, led by former Young Artist and current music teacher Tracy Allen, sang Mr. Lang's music with gusto and charm, and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. The quartet of Julia Mintzer, James Michael Porter, Lisa Williamson, and Christian Zaremba sang what appeared to be very difficult music while also playing percussion instruments, including a bass drum and a marimba. There was no other instrumental accompaniment. Young Victoria Munro sang and acted the title role quite convincingly. All this was held together quite well by conductor David Moody.

I should also mention the beautiful costumes of Beth Goldenberg for both shows. Sets by Marjorie Bradley Kellogg and lighting by Mark McCullough were also quite well done.

All in all, I'd say the Stabat Mater elicited more emotion from me, while The Little Match Girl Passion elicited more analytical thought. I would also say to see one of the remaining performances of Passions. I would like to see it again myself.

One more thing. In my trips to the Cooperstown area I've had good luck and bad luck in terms of places I stay. I have finally struck gold with the Overlook Mansion B&B. Please click the link and check them out, and give them some business!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Don Carlos at Caramoor

Will Crutchfield
Once again I had the pleasure of venturing up to Caramoor with my BFF BS for some wonderfully conceived and performed opera in concert. On Saturday, July 20, I heard with delight Caramoor's production of Mr. Verdi's Don Carlos, performed en français (hence the s in the name). (French libretto is by Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle.)

Performance versions (or version control, as technology people might say) are quite the topic of discussion where Don Carlo(s) is concerned! In addition to the original 1867 Paris version, there is the 1884 version in Italian translation with which we are most familiar (which includes revisions by Mr. Verdi, including the removal of the first act from the five-act version), as well as various other authorized and unauthorized versions in Italian and French. In his excellent program notes Will Crutchfield, Director of Opera at Caramoor, took great pains to make clear the 1884 version is an Italian translation, and there is no "Italian version".  All of Verdi's composition for Don Carlo(s) was to the original French text. The version performed at Caramoor is most closely aligned to the 1884 La Scala version, but in the original French. (As with most operas by highly skilled composers for the voice, the original language is much more singable than even very well executed translations.)

Stephen Powell
Photo: Christian Pollard
I hied me and BS to Caramoor early to hear the introductory lectures and concerts presented by Mr. Crutchfield and his guests, musicologist Philip Gossett and writer/scholar Andrew Porter (both of whom deserve sainthood for their lifelong work on Italian opera), and the Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists. I regret that we arrived a little late to hear the beginning of the introductory lecture by Messrs. Crutchfield, Gossett, and Porter, but what we heard was a delight for the ears, mind, and soul. The first concert contained extracts of Don Carlo(s) not in today's common repertoire, and the second was comprised of opera excerpts based on Friedrich Schiller, the source of Don Carlo(s). It's impossible to list all the Young Artists who impressed me, but I can not fail to mention once again basses Nicholas Masters and Joseph Beutel, baritone Michael Nyby, and mezzos Sarah Nelson Craft and Jennifer Feinstein as young singers to watch out for, although certainly not the only notable singers among the group. My favorite excerpts included a duet from Nicola Vaccai's Giovanna d'arco sung by Ms. Craft and the lovely Danielle Buonaiuto, as well as a piece from Johan Rudolf Zumsteeg's Maria Stuart. (That's right--German at Caramoor!) There was also a Don Carlos duet between Rodrigue and Philippe that Mr. Verdi himself removed before the Paris premiere, which I quite liked.

Jennifer Check
Photo: Kristin Hoebermann
The opera itself was stunning. From the downbeat Mr. Crutchfield had full command of the Orchestra of St. Lukes, and together they played beautifully. Of the vocal cast, there was not a one who failed to impress. I was completely taken aback by baritone Stephen Powell as Rodrigue and bass Christophoros Stamboglis as Phlippe. Both men are new on my radar, but both sang with such beauty, musicianship, and passion that I hardly know what else to say about them. Mr. Powell's recent and future engagements include Verdi baritone fare such as Germont, Rigoletto, Iago, and even Falstaff. It is with great regret I report I had not heard this young man before. Mr. Stamboglis has equally impressive credits, including Carnegie Hall, the Met, Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Frankfurt), in roles including Enrico VIII in Anna Bolena, Oroveso in Norma, Filippo II in Don Carlo, and both Alidoro and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola.

Eboli was sung by Jennifer Larmore. Some find her voice a bit light for this role, and at the Met it might be. In this setting I did not find it so. I enjoyed the zest that Ms. Larmore brought to her role, embracing Eboli's apparent mean-girl character but showing Eboli's real remorse upon recognizing how her actions affect others. Never did I hear any suggestion of vocal discomfort, as one might if she were singing a role that doesn't fit her voice. While the football-field size opera houses might not hire Ms. Larmore for this role, I do hope she will sing it often in other theaters, for I think she sang beautifully.

(c) James Valenti
Photo: William Bichara
Don Carlos himself was sung by James Valenti. Mr. Valenti is a fine young singer with a very successful career, and he is also known for his dashing looks. He sang the role of Don Carlos with a great amount of passion and Italianate style. He sang beautifully, in fact, but I don't believe the role is right for him. Don Carlos is sung by spinto tenors--much larger and more dramatic voices than young Mr. Valenti's. Assuming this is Mr. Valenti's first Don Carlos, I'd like to hear his fifth or his tenth.

Jennifer Check was Elisabeth de Valois. Her accomplishments include Lady Macbeth, Norma, Agathe, the Marschallin, Madame Lidoine, and Lady Billows. This is a large voice, and who can tell what even more ambitious roles are in Ms. Check's future? Although an audience favorite, and a singer of great musicianship and skill, Ms. Check's singing to me lacked a warmth at times I wanted to hear.

I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to mention Young Artist Jeffrey Beruan, bass, who sang the monk who reveals himself to be the still living Charles V.

I regret that Caramoor no longer has two or more performances of the operas they produce. I would gladly recommend hearing subsequent performances of this cast and this production.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is that all there is?

I'm not very fond of Camelot as a show--weak characters and plot, horribly insipid songs mixed in with some clever ones--but it remains a popular show with audiences and producing companies. On Saturday evening, July 13, I saw the opening night performance of Camelot at Glimmerglass, and I must say the work by Messrs. Lerner and Loewe suffered considerably by comparison to the amazing Fliegende Holländer I'd seen there on Friday evening. It truly pains me to report that, much as I love Glimmerglass as a festival and their work as a whole, I did not love this show.

David Pittsinger as Arthur
Photo by Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
I won't say the show suffered for lack of effort on the part of the talented cast. From the beautiful and charming Guinevere of Adriana Chuchman, whose name I knew but whose work I didn't, to the extremely hard working and lively ensemble of music theater Young Artists, there wasn't a single person on stage I could fault for lack of enthusiasm or ability. Some of the opera-singer cast were less comfortable with spoken dialogue than others, but sometimes stilted and stentorian works in this style of musical.

Parts of this production were beautifully executed, but the whole in this case was less than the sum of the parts. Just as with Fliegende Holländer, Camelot was visually quite beautiful. While more subdued in color and excitement than James Noone's sets for Holländer, those of Kevin Depinet for Camelot had a similar dramatic impact. The ever-present tree (of the knowledge of good and evil?) in which Arthur, and then Mordrid, and then young Tom of Warwick hide and emerge was very cleverly constructed. The castle in the sky as metaphor and as real image were both also very beautifully and creatively executed. The costumes by Paul Tazewell were all quite a treat for the eye (although I have to fear for the welfare of the cast in such heavily constructed costumes under stage lights on hot summer nights and afternoons).

Wynn Harmon, Adriana Chuchman, ensemble of Young Artists
Photo by Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
The singing was all very good. I especially liked Adriana Chuchman as Guinevere. She's a lovely young soprano with a beautiful instrument, and she did have convincing charm and sweetness. Nathan Gunn, who unfortunately kept his shirt on for the entire show, exuded comic appeal as as Lancelot, especially in his introductory song, "C'est moi!"  As his character became more human and less cartoonish, however, the charm occasionally went missing. David Pittsinger is an excellent singer, and was a pleasure to hear as Arthur, but otherwise was a bit wooden on stage. Music theater veteran Wynn Harmon was a delight as Pellinore, but a bit less delightful as Merlyn. I can not fail to mention the Young Artists Clay Hilley, Noel Bouley, and Wayne Hu as the young knights Patty, Maxine and Laverne Sir  Dinadan, Sir Lionel, and Sir Sagramore.

Directorial weakness littered this production from beginning to end. Principals knew where to move but not always how to relate to each other. The ensemble was over-choreographed but not really terribly involved. The few characters who seemed to have thoughts and personalities of their own were portrayed by veteran musical theater actors who likely had done the same roles one or two dozen times before. I'm told director Robert Longbottom was a last-minute replacement for another director, which might explain some of the issues I describe.

Judging by what I heard of other audience members' reactions, I seem to be quite in the minority in some of my opinions. There was a great deal of cheering and thunderous applause at the end, and I saw many a smile as the audience left. For that reason alone, I tell you to go see this show and report back to me on your impressions.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Where are the simple joys of maidenhood?

Women's chorus with Mary (Young Artist Deborah Nansteel)
Photo by Karli Cadel for Glimmerglass
Your intrepid reporter has once again happily traipsed all the way across the state to see beautifully done opera and to tell you about it. This time the venue was the Glimmerglass Festival, site of several wonderful shows seen and reported two years ago. (I had to miss the entire season last year. Bitter tears were the result.)

The first show I saw was Der Fliegende Holländer, Mr. Wagner's great opus in honor of seamen. Ghostly ship's captain comes ashore once every seven years searching for true love, and one gathers that it never ends well. Glimmerglass always has innovative and creative new productions of both standard and unusual works, and Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director of Glimmerglass and stage director of this show, certainly did not let us down! This was a visually stunning show, with spellbinding effects in scenery, stage direction, choreography, and lighting. (My companion opined that the enormously effective lighting was like another character, but in a successful way, not in a Lepage-machine way.) Sets by James Noone and lighting by Mark McCullough deserve high praise, as do Ms. Zambello's lusty direction and choreography by Eric Sean Fogel. In fact, there was almost nothing to complain about in this show.

Melody Moore
Photo by Karli Cadel
for Glimmerglass
It's unusual for me to rave about the technical team before talking about singers, and I certainly don't want to suggest the musical elements of the show by comparison were less exciting than the visual. That would be a falsehood. Conductor John Keenan led a reduced orchestra through the opera in brilliant fashion, and the singing was above par almost across the board. Of course one must begin by discussing the Dutchman himself, sung by Barihunk Ryan McKinny. Not only were his singing and characterization beautiful and nuanced, but his stage presence was electric. His duet with Senta was spellbinding, and one could feel the pain when he believes Senta has betrayed him. And what a bit of bad-boy eye candy he is in costume!

Ryan McKinny
Photo by Karli Cadel
for Glimmerglass
Senta. What a delight Melody Moore is to see and hear. In the question and answer session so graciously provided by the artists after the performance, Ms. Moore admitted Senta is her first Wagner role, and this production her first Senta. No matter--this lady is a highly skilled singing actress, and the role fits her voice like a glove. We believe her as a passionate young girl obsessed with the legend of the Dutchman, and we believe her senses are coming alive when she meets him in person. We want to hear her sing Senta's ballad again and again.

Jay Hunter Morris sang Erik, Senta's local sweetheart. Mr. Morris gained well-deserved fame when he stepped in on short notice as Siegfried in the Met's Ring cycle last season. Although I didn't see those performances, I heard very good sounding clips from them. Which is why I was concerned that he sounded tired in this performance. He did not act tired, however, and threw himself into the role as the hot-headed young Jägerman Erik. A spy assures me he was in better voice for opening night, and I look forward to hearing Mr. Morris in the future sounding fresh and well rested.

Peter Volpe was a tenderly paternal Daland, Senta's father. The Steersman was performed with lusty if oversung ardor by Young Artist Adam Bielamowicz, and Mary was sung quite well by Young Artist Deborah Nansteel. The chorus of Young Artists was very, very good, and the dancers superb. Once again I must rave about choreographer Eric Sean Fogel. The sailors' dance at the beginning of Act III was quite a delight to see in its enthusiastic and uniform execution, and the movements of the women's chorus and dancers in Act II was similarly beautiful.

A musical, vocal, visual, dramatic success. What's not to love about this production?
Photo by Jamie Kraus for Glimmerglass

I had thought the beautiful and amazing Melody More was a new name and face to me, but now I realize I saw her in New York City Opera's Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

They wanted to dance, but it was too hot

Five-act French "grand" operas are a puzzle. They were of a time and place, and very popular indeed in that time and place, namely early- to mid-19th century Paris. Staging them in our time and place in their original form isn't always quite so easy. They were quite long, and required at least one extended ballet sequence. They required highly skilled bel canto singing and an understanding of the musical style and genre from the singers and the pit. And they were in French, for goodness sake!

Verdi was no dummy. He wanted to join his countrymen Donizetti and Bellini in raking in l'argent creating new audiences for his works. Five-act French operas are also proving profitable for modern companies that can produce them, because opera fans ranging from cognoscenti to curiosity seekers come from far and wide to hear and see them.

I was fortunate Saturday, July 6, to venture to northern Westchester County and enjoy one of Mr. Verdi's French masterworks, Les Vȇpres Siciliennes, at the Caramoor Festival. Often, upon hearing works that are neglected, I can tell you why they're neglected, and might even suggest that it's not a bad thing they are neglected. Not so with Les Vȇpres Siciliennes. Oh, I can talk about the difficulties of mounting an opera like Vȇpres (unless you're fluent in French, just say "vep"), even in the four-act Italian version I Vespri Siciliani, but I would never suggest performing this opera any less. Quite the contrary--I want to see it produced much more! But this opera is very much a star vehicle. If only there was a major opera house nearby in the habit of producing rarely performed operas to feature popular divas!

Angela Meade
Photo credit: Devon Cass
The diva I heard singing Hélène in Vȇpres was the lovely Angela Meade, no stranger to these pages. In the past I have praised Miss Meade's bel canto singing--her legato, her even scale, her dynamic control, the drama she can infuse into her singing. It pleases me to say I heard all of this in her performance on Saturday. I recently suggested she sounded a little tired when I saw her perform Norma on stage at the Kennedy Center (the last performance of a long run), but I heard no such fatigue in her Vȇpres. While her top in the first act might not have had all the warmth it achieved in the remainder of the very long opera, I still call it a very fine performance vocally. I do wish director Steven Tharp had elicited more of a consistent appearance of involvement from Miss Meade.

Tenor John Osborn was Henri, Hélène's love interest in this typical 19th-century story of political oppression and uprising, forbidden love, and scheming of every sort. (All that's missing is a baby on a bonfire.) Mr. Osborn has long been a favorite bel canto tenor in European houses, singing even the highest Bellini roles with a sound fuller than your typical tenorino. He is now branching out into beefier bel canto roles--and although it's Verdi, I'd say Henri qualifies--allowing the color and fullness that typically comes with middle age to infuse his still very high voice. (Although his web site lists Elvino in La Sonnambula as his next engagement, it also lists Pollione, Hoffmann, and Werther in coming months.) Mr. Osborn's performance was impassioned and full of vocal warmth and beauty of line. He received well-deserved roars of approval at the curtain call.

Marco Nistico
Photo credit: Dan Demetriad
Because a soprano needs a bass to talk to, we enjoyed Burak Bilgili as Jean Procida. His bio lists many admirable accomplishments, and on hearing his beautiful singing I am not surprised. He gave his role the required menace as a political conspirator and warmth as friend and advisor to Hélène. And because a tenor needs a rival, we also enjoyed Marco Nisticò as Guy de Montfort, French governor of Sicily. We also learn, as he does, that he is the father of Henri, his political and romantic rival. Mr. Nisticò was mentioned in these pages as a very fine Dulcamara in the 2011 New York City Opera production of L'Elisir d'Amore. I liked him even more as Montfort, very much admiring his beautiful singing and his clear portrayal of Montfort's conflicting emotions.

As we have come to expect, Will Crutchfield drew a very fine performance out of the Orchestra of St. Lukes. The orchestra was awarded thunderous applause for its sensitive playing with singers and for the ballet interludes (not omitted, as one might have expected). The title of this post comes from one of the projected titles explaining the action of the ballet we were hearing but not seeing.

Minor roles were quite capably filled by Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists and Apprentice Artists.

Not one to waste an afternoon of sweltering heat outdoors, my opera-going companion and I also attended open-air lectures and concerts Saturday afternoon, including excellent lectures by Mr. Crutchfield on the singing style of the French Romantic period and Mr. Tharp on Les Vȇpres Siciliennes specifically. The concerts included Italian composers for the French operatic tradition dating back to the late 18th century and French contemporaries of Verdi composing for the Paris Opera. Among the standouts in these concerts I include bass-baritone Joseph Beutel, who sings beautifully and can trill (although he looks like he's about 12 years old); tenor Noah Baetge, whom we have seen in these pages singing the Verdi Requiem rather well at Carnegie Hall; and mezzo Jennifer Feinstein, who, with Mr. Baetge and tenor Cameron Schutza gave us an affecting trio from Mr. Donizetti's rarity Élisabeth.

Complaints? Very few, aside from the heat and legendary uncomfortable seating at Caramoor's Venetian Theater. Almost worth the discomfort to hear and see an opera new to me that deserves to be a hit parade opera, sung very well, and presented with great enthusiasm and skill.