Review by Danny Gaisin
Giacomo Puccini; he of the amazing operatic arias and an affinity for hyperbolic lyrics was the guest of last evening’s Brott Festival concert. The great man, (aka Aubrey Boothman) iterated the why’s & how’s behind two of his most popular works; then narrated the librettos for Tosca and Butterfly
. Thus we had it all, history and context. Interesting concept and very ‘cutesy’. To paraphrase Lou Grant –“I HATE ‘CUTESY’ ”.
Tosca is the sad tale of a demanding & strong Italian actress and her artist lover who become embroiled in a political situation. He’s executed; she kills his arch enemy and then takes a dive off the parapet. But first she has to curse the now-dead bad guy and sing about the whole thing. Butterfly tells us about a teenaged Japanese Geisha who’s hired as a temp-wife for a visiting American sailor. He knocks her up then heads back stateside. Unfortunately, she’s fallen in love with him & believes he’ll return for a fairy-tale ending. He does…with his wife, so she commits ritual hara kiri, also while singing her finale aria.
For the Tosca segment, Edgar Ramirez and Mina Yamazaki are the lovers; Todd Delany – the heavy. The chemistry between tenor & baritone is tangibly noticeable, all the more amazing because this was their first time working together. Yamazaki seemed a little overwhelmed with her challenging and certainly focal role; staying well within the vocal box. During the post-interval take on “Butterfly”, she was far more credible, and with the brief addition of Lauren Segal as her Suzuki; their duets were convincing. All four soloists are experienced and certainly talented, but this listener was absolutely enthralled by Ramirez’ solos & duets. He was superb in this spring’s Barbiere and I look forward to his next local stage opportunity.
This was our first personal opportunity to hear the 2012 incarnation of the N.A.O. The terms focused and disciplined come immediately to mind. However, there seems to be a slant toward technique from the emotional measure that is intrinsic to any Class ‘A’ concert ensemble. We also could appreciate the positive comments posted by our other columnists about the potential shown by apprentice conductor Brendan Hagan, we foresee a successful future for this young musician.
Brott and company have a few more concerts scheduled including the Gershwin/Bernstein tribute on Aug. 2ndin Burlington’s new concert Hall, and finale – Verdi Requiem Aug 16th at Mohawk.
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