Monday, March 31, 2014

Met Stars in the Making

On Sunday, March 30, hubby and I heard the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finals concert. There were nine singers in this final round of competition, each of whom presented one aria in each half of the concert. I like this plan--one is able to hear them all and form initial impressions, and hear each again to refine those impressions. Then the judges made their collective decision, which was announced immediately.

Tenor Yi Li, soprano Julie Adams, bass Patrick Guetti
soprano Amanda Woodbury, bass-baritone Ao Li
Photo: Rebecca Fay, Metropolitan Opera
I must say I agree whole-heartedly with the judges' choice of five winners. The names of the five were plastered all over the Internet before I got home, so I'll spare you any list aside from the caption to the photo here.

My impressions? Some mighty fine singing, interpretation, and stage presence in these five young singers. From the first notes bass Patrick Guetti sang, I knew this was a winner. In the first half he sang "Il lacerato spirito" from Simon Boccanegra, and his bass sound filled the theater while his presence as the character was impressive. In the second half he sang an amusing "La calunnia" (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), showing he can be more than a park-and-bark solemn bass. Soprano Amanda Woodbury was another favorite from the beginning, giving us a beautiful "Non mi dir" (Don Giovanni) in the first half and an amazing Ophelia mad scene from Hamlet in the second. Bass-baritone Ao Li hammed it up in the first half with an amusing "Madamina" (Don Giovanni), but was completely earnest in the second half with Aleko's cavatina from Aleko (by Mr. Rachmaninoff--I don't know this opera, but perhaps I should). Tenor Yi Li gave us a very good "De' miei bollenti spirit" (La Traviata) in the first half and an impassioned "Pourquoi me reveiller" (Werther) in the second half. Soprano Julie Adams sang a very good Lia's aria from L'Enfant Prodigue in the first half, but I must say I was distracted by my own thoughts about whether L'Enfant Prodigue is opera or oratorio. (In fact, this list calls it a choral/orchestra work with soloists.) In the second half, however, her "Donde lieta usci" (La Boheme) was magic. Magic, I tell you!

The other finalists gave very fine performances, as well, and I rather think all of them will go far. I don't wish to single any of the non-finalists out as very good, because that would also single out the one or two who disappointed me. That's not my style.

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