Last night ten singers who had taken part in an intensive class/coaching with Sondra Radvanovsky showed us what they could do. The program was organised and presented by the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists at the Alliance Française. It says quite a lot about the current state of supply and demand in the opera world that nine of the ten singers were female and seven were sopranos. We were given one aria per singer and a lot, inevitably I suppose, of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini with one aria apiece for Verdi and Puccini.
First up was mezzo Marjorie Maltais with Angelina’s Act 2 aria from La Cenerentola, Nacqui all’affanno. This was classy. It was accurate and expressive and the runs were handled well. Next up was Valerie Bélanger, new to me, with Prendi, per me sei libero from L’Elisir d’amore. She has a sweet voice but even in the rather tiny AF theatre it didn’t sound really fill the room. Hard to imagine on a major stage.
Sara Schabas was next to sing with Ah non credea from La Somnambula. She has a much heftier and fuller sound with quite a bit of slice. In fact it’s defininitely a voice I would want to hear with orchestra rather than piano. Quite promising and reminds me a bit of a younger Sasha Djihanian. Caitlin Wood produced Oh! Quante volte ti chiedo from I Capuleti e I Montecchi. This was some nice controlled singing with enough heft to support it. Rounding out the first half was Beth Hagerman with Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly. She sang boldly and emotionally with no holding back. There were some nice colours in the voice and enough power to carry it. It was rather good and a pleasant contrast with the bel canto (I never thought I’d be relieved to hear Puccini, let alone Butterfly!).
Jessica Scarlato opened the second half with Come Scoglio. It was good with plenty of power and the technique to cope with the ridiculous intervals. Maybe it could have used a little more archness. It is supposed to be a parody after all. Natalya Gennadi offered Anna’s mad scene aria from Anna Bolena. There was some real acting here and some really nice singing with unusual colours weirdly reminiscent of Radvanovsky. One of the evening’s highlights. Stephanie de Ciantis gave us some Verdi; Pace, pace, mio dio from La forza del destino. I liked this. It was quite fierce and dramatic with some interesting darkening of the voice.
The concert closed put with two singers I’ve had my eye on for a while now. Mezzo Danielle Macmillan sang another aria from Anna Bolena; Giovanna Seymour’s Per questa flamma indomita. Her voice is getting bigger and darker and there is plenty of slice. She was also quite expressive and managed the runs rather well. Good stuff. Then, finally, a man! In this case tenor Asitha Tennekoon. He made the bold choice of Ah mes amis from La fille de régiment. He got those high Cs. Whole careers have been launched on being able to ping those and he did. He’s come a long way in the couple of years I’ve been following his career. It was a fitting end to a very decent concert.
Hat tip to the indomitable Rachel Andrist who provided the accompaniment throughout the evening.