An Evening of Opera Scenes
On Friday January 19th the International Masters Academy of Opera (IAMO) presented An Evening of Opera Scenes at the Shoemaker residence on Central Park West.
The program ranged from Bizet to Verdi, with an Italian weighting and a splash of Bernstein. Over the course of two hours, a variety of mostly younger opera singers performed for an audience of about 25.
Listeners in the front row were just an arm’s length from the performer(s). Those seated further back were still closer than the front row of most major venues. This intimate setting gave us a rich connection to the singers. It allowed us to savor the fine detail of each performance, such as Alan Glassman‘s heart-rending facial expressions in Otello (Verdi), and to feel personally how hard the singers were working.
Effort and Power
Richard Barrett introduced each artist and their repertoire. He advised us that opera singers are trained to perform without a microphone, explaining the astonishing power of these artists and why so much physical effort can be involved. I’m remembering primarily Ashley Bell in this regard. You don’t fully grasp such things in a large auditorium, but when you are close to a performer of such enormous power the experience becomes all-encompassing.
We appreciated the passionate delivery of Greek soprano Elisabeth Papageorgiou, the fine control of Chinese mezzo-soprano Hongyao Wang, and the spirited duet of soprano Marnie Baylouny and mezzo-soprano Claudia Yanez (Rossini’s Duetto buffo di due gatti – the “meow” duet). Corynn Springer (mezzo-soprano) and Damian Faul (baritone) deserve a special New York shout out for their adorably romantic duets from West Side Story.
We also enjoyed Siberian mezzo-soprano Polina Egudina, Korean soprano Rosa Chang, tenor Vikram Bal, and the youngest singer Carson Cook (baritone) who coped admirably with this intense venue. Last but not least, we thank accompanists Violetta Zabbi and Eric Malson (piano), Andy Lin (viola) and our gracious host for making it all possible.
Supporting the Arts
The evening closed with a brief address from Allan Glassman. Allan noted that career opportunities for young singers are harder to find now than in the past, and observed that especially at this time in America, the Arts need our support.