Douglas Moore's (1893-1969) 1958 one-act opera Gallantry (libretto by Arnold Sundgaard) is a send-up of the sponsored television soap operas of the 1950s, complete with commercial announcements by a glamorous hostess. Mezzo Erika Hennings was a very glamorous hostess indeed, in silver lamé gown and heels that accentuate her already very tall stature. Having heard Miss Hennings before*, one must observe that this was among the best singing this reviewer has heard from her--very free and even throughout--and one was also pleased with her saucy presentation of the sponsored items, fictional Lockinvar soap and Billy Boy spray floor wax. Soprano Sonja Krenek was appropriately virtuous as the ingenue Nurse Lola Markham, showing marked alarm and even violent reproach to the advances of oily surgeon Dr. Gregg, quite capably sung by baritone Greg Hoyt. Tenor Marques Hollie, whom we saw but were prevented by poor acoustics from actually hearing in Dell'Arte Opera Ensemble's Macbeth, was quite amusing as Donald Hopewell, patient and boyfriend of Nurse Lola. Stage director Laura Hirschberg handled this opera well, but one wished for even more over-the-top nail biting and scenery chewing, accentuating the comedy of this delightful little opera. Miss Hennings and Miss Krenek were the two vocal standouts.
Although I didn't like the opera, I liked the singing. Musically, the most interesting and beautiful part to this reviewer was the women's chorus of angels. Bass-baritone Adam Margulies was the most exciting solo voice in this opera, in a role that didn't fit his voice at all. I am eager to hear more from this young man. (I learned later this role could be called a tenor role. I couldn't imagine why anyone aside from the Marquis de Sade would write something so torturous for a bass, but it could be handled by a tenor with a low voice.) Soprano Marie Marquis was another standout, with a beautiful voice and accomplished technique, but the unnecessarily stratospheric range of parts of the role left one more sympathetic than excited. Again, Laura Hirschberg staged this opera very well, using the chancel at All Saints quite effectively. Having much of the action take place under the suspended Advent wreath was an unintended charm, I'm sure, but effective.
I am charmed to be introduced to the work of enCANTA Collective. Quoting from their web site:
The name enCANTA Collective is a play on words: encanta in Spanish means “it delights,” canta is from the Spanish or Italian verb “to sing.”Delight this program certainly did. Not one singer displeased this reviewer, and more than one thrilled. I hope to hear them all as they grow in their careers.
I applaud enCANTA's accomplishments, and I hope to hear more good music making from them in the future.
*Full disclosure: Miss Hennings is a personal friend of this reviewer, which gives said reviewer a rich memory of other performances for comparison.