Review by Danny Gaisin
The vocally talented Emilio Fina and we Gaisin’s are kindred spirits in our dedication to culture. Emilio has tried to slow the decline of community opera; i.e. the non-C.O.C. aggregations. Alternatively, we have involved ourselves with media promotion, positive criticism and publication. Alas, the struggle seems a losing proposition. The K-W Opera is gone and last year saw the demise of Opera Hamilton. Yet there’s certainly enough money around for such circuses as the Pan Am games. Tenor Emilio seems to have thrown in the towel and gone over to the mainstream of pop.
Heartbreaking, but fortunately a great voice can never be muted. Proof of this took place last evening at Halton’s THE MEETING HOUSE. The concert was in support of “Home Suite Hope”, a worthwhile charity that offers a safe and secure opportunity for families in precarious circumstances. Referrals; long-term housing; adequate nutrition and childcare are all intrinsic to the program. Hamilton’s Connie Smith emcee’d the evening and a brief but enlivening talk by skills-maven Shannon Smith all were backdrops for a smorgasbord of vocal music.
We first became enamored of Fina’s tenor voice almost three years ago when he performed in Don Giovanni. A year later, he sang a featured role in Rossini’s version of the famous ‘The Hare of Seville” starring Tenor B. Bunnay and baritone Elmero Fudde! The s.m. for that opus was one Rachelle Kelly… same lady who shared the stage with Fina last night.
The selections ran the gamut from Solo Mio to Ave Maria; Santa Lucia to the seduction duet from the aforementioned Giovanni. Fina has made the necessitated bridge to what audiences seem to prefer, but he still maintains a divo’s need for multi-linguistic comfort. We heard Latin, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and English. All proffered in a faultless dialect. His relationship and connection with his audience reminds this scribe of such stalwart performers as Trini Lopez or Perry Como. One feels an interpersonal relationship as though his songs are individually directed. The voice -“mellow yet fraught with subdued emotion and potency” [O.A.R. Mar. 24th ‘12].
Big FYI– his SONY CD titled “O Sole Mio” is a definite keeper.
Miss Kelly enhances her soprano voice with both facial expression and deportment. All of the duets showed balanced readings rather than melody/counterpoint emphasis. The only negative was an exaggerated bass that at times reminded one of being held up at a stoplight next to a teenager in a Honda hatchback with rear seats removed to make room for the speakers!
The audience had one more treat…seven Von Trapp kiddies and their Maria… The upcoming cast of Theatre Unlimited’s January offering of the Rogers/Hammerstein ‘Sound of Music’. Who would dare to admit being tired of ‘My Favorite Things’; “the Lonely Goatherd”; ‘Climb every Mountain’; “16 going on 17” or Edelweiss. From Jan.23rd to Feb. 1st, we’ll all have the opportunity to join in singing Do Re Mi at Mississauga’s Meadowvale Theatre.