For the background to this concert, please read my earlier post:
http://www.interculturaldialogueandeducation.org/2010/12/world-class-opera-course-opera-studio.html FRIDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2010
In that post I wrote about the World class opera course: Opera Studio 2011 which was planned to take place in the historic city of Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid.
I was very glad to be invited the closing concert of OperaStudio earlier this month. I have to say that the singers were all of an extremely high standard, and they had everything going for them: a balmy summer evening, an audience of more than 1,000 enthusiasts, and a performance area with a really cristal clear acoustic.
The concert was made possible due to inspiring work by producer Lourdes Pérez Sierra, and the musical direction was at the hands of pianist Borja Mariño. Lourdes Pérez has arranged simple but effective stage settings: for a few moments we really worried who was going to get hurt with that dagger, and the embraces of two stage lovers were, well, convincing. Simple stage movements were added to a by a child bearing flowers to fill in a few bars’ introduction and to add more colour.
No singer could ask for a more excellent accompanist than Sr. Mariño: his playing was technically perfect without a note wrong during the whole evening, he made such a beautiful stylistic difference between the arias, from an exquisite lightness in Mozart to a powerful orchestral sound in the grand opera moments, and he really provided that support that singers need in the fortissimo sections.
The singers, in order of appearance, were María del Mar Humanes (soprano), Ángel Rodríguez (tenor), Estrella Cuello (soprano), Delia Agúndez (soprano), Igor Peral (tenor), Julia Arellano (mezzosoprano), Francisco Rivero (tenor), María Ruíz (soprano), Liesel Fernández (soprano) and Manuel Alejo (tenor).
The singers were all aspiring young professionals and we should be seeing them on the stage in theatres around the world very soon. At this concert they had their chance to show what they could do with well known opera favourites, from Mozart and Donizetti to Verdi and Puccini, with two items from Spanish zarzuela, by Reveriano Soutullo and Morreno Torroba.
There is always a question as to how to programme evenings like this: on the one hand the audience come along expecting to hear their well known favourites, while on the other hand, the singers are challenged with singing pieces that have been performed so many times by so many great singers that we all have probably several versions of these arias on our shelves at home, if not on our iPods.
I wonder if some of the singers could have been given the challenge of singing lesser well known arias of equal quality, even by the same composers. The balance of solo and duet items was nicely achieved, offering variety and dramatic contrast.
I am going to be really horrible and nominate my favourite from the evening. I know this is not a talent contest and there was a wonderful sense of companionship and teamwork on stage. Still, I would like to mention Delia Agúndez’s rendition of Deh viene non tardar from Figaro: here is a perfect Mozartian voice, with a purity of timbre, unfailing intonation and perfect breath control, all combined with a stage presence which commands attention and makes it all look so easy.
Thanks to all the singers, to Lourdes Pérez Sierra and D. Borja Mariño for a great evening: I look forward to next year’s OperaSudio and to seeing news of these young singers on stage in opera houses around the world.