Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Delaware Valley Opera's La Traviata

I have sat behind many an audition table, both as administrator of a small opera company, and as advisor to other organizations. (Note to other organizations: My ears and evaluations can be had on the cheap!) It is quite common for me to think, "Gee, I'd like to hear that voice after another year or two of polishing!" That is a good thing. And that was my overwhelming feeling as I watched Delaware Valley Opera's performance Monday, October 14, of staged La Traviata excerpts. (The same cast will perform a much fuller version of the score, fully staged and complete with orchestra and chorus, in Rhinebeck, NY, on Sunday, October 20.) Monday night's staging alternated between OK and awkward, for aside from Alfredo, Violetta, and Germont, we only had Grenville and Flora/Annina.  Party scenes?  Not so easy.

John Kaneklides, Julie-Anne Hamula, Wayne Line
Young and beautiful Julie-Anne Hamula was Violetta. Both Violetta and Ms. Hamula were the star of the show. Her bio-blurb lists lists Adina, Gilda and Lauretta, which seem to me to be quite appropriate roles for her. She's also sung heavier roles. I think Violetta is a little on the heavy, mature side for her fresh, young voice. That said, there was great beauty and passion in all of the role for Ms. Hamula. Her most beautiful moments vocally were when she sang piano and/or legato. There was vocal and dramatic magic in "Dite alla giovine....", from her scene with the elder Germont. It pains me to say this, but Act I, containing Violetta's best known excerpts, was Ms. Hamula's weakest act. While she seemed comfortable acting against either Germont, especially the elder, left alone on the stage she seemed uncomfortable. And her vocalism was at its best in Acts II and III.

Dashing young John Kaneklides gave us a pretty darn good baby Alfredo. His is a voice that will grow more fully into roles like Alfredo, and I look forward to hearing him in one or five or ten years. His bio lists roles like Tamino, Nemorino, Fenton, and Rinuccio. These I can easily hear in his voice, with its very warm but still light quality. He did a good job with Alfredo in Monday's performance, including the cabaletta to Dei miei bollenti spiriti and its punishing high C.

Wayne Line is the most experienced of the three principals, and one heard it in his Germont. Young Meredith Hudak and Georgios Papadimitriou gave us as much of Flora, Annina, and Dr. Grenvil as was practical in this highlights performance. DVO General Director Carol Castel brought out the characters well, particularly with Ms. Hamula's Violetta. I regret I will not be able to see the fully-staged performance on Sunday in Rhinebeck.