MISSION

We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WE'RE JUST WILD ABOUT HENRY....AND STEVEN

Steven Blier and Friends at Henry's Restaurant for NYFOS After Hours

Joining a packed house, we joyfully shared in the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Henry's Restaurant on the Upper West Side. The beloved Steven Blier has been presenting cabarets at that venue for the past five years, curating an always astonishing collection of songs performed with what he accurately calls a "torrent of talent", mainly chosen from among the singers he has coached. Like any torrent, this one swept us along.

For his 27th cabaret, there was no program.  Mr. Blier, whose skills as a raconteur rival his pianistic artistry, narrated from the piano. The introduction, a charming ditty by Rodgers and Hart called "Sing For Your Supper" was performed by three women we had not heard before--soprano Meredith Lustig and mezzos Catherine Hancock and Carla Jablonski.  We always expect tenor Miles Mykkanen to do the honors but the three lovely ladies put their own individual spin on the song with some captivating girl-group harmonies.

Happily, we got to hear Mr. Mykkanen later in the program as he put his particular spin on  "I'm Not Getting Married Today" from Sondheim's Company.  It is Mr. M.'s particular gift that he can sing both male and female parts with equivalent pizazz. He also performed "The Only Music That Makes Me Dance" from Jules Styne's Funny Girl.

Tenor Ben Bliss and baritone Theo Hoffman (two singers we always love to hear) were hilarious in "Everyone Eats When They Come to My House", a Cab Calloway song that was new to us.  Its rhymes are too clever by half and exactly the sort of thing for which the English language was made.  We wanted to hear it again right on the spot!

The amazing soprano Julia Bullock, who could keep us raptly involved if she sang the phone book, sang Irving Berlin's "Harlem On My Mind" with a sensibility of the period, evoking feelings of nostalgia for the places one leaves behind.  Mr. Blier gave us some juicy jazz riffs on the piano.

Terrific tenor Theo Lebow sang a Scandinavian song about the sea.  We hope we can be forgiven for not detecting whether it was Swedish, Norwegian or Danish; whatever it was, it was a strong masculine song and he sang it beautifully.

Mr. Bliss made "Maria" from Bernstein's West Side Story new again and spun out the final note with great finesse.  Baritone Jonathan Estabrooks was delightful in "A Rhyme for Angela" from the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin show The Firebrand of Florence.  If you never saw the show, it's worth looking up the plot which is about the escapades of Benvenuto Cellini. Berlioz' opera was not that titillating.

Not every song was modern.  Ms. Lustig, Mr. Lebow and Mr. Estabrook joined forces for an a capella Renaissance song purportedly composed by Henry VIII!  This being an evening of celebrating Henry, why not?

The program ended with Mr. Estabrook singing Bob Merrell's "Henry, Sweet Henry" with lyrics customized for the happy occasion.  The eponymous Henry of 105th and Broadway was a most gracious and welcoming host for the evening's festivities.  With good food, good drink, good music and such an outpouring of love, the evening was a total success.

(c) meche kroop







Saturday, October 18, 2014

LUCA PISARONI and WOLFRAM RIEGER


Luca Pisaroni (photo by Marco Borggreve)
For us, an evening of 19th c. lieder might be our very favorite vocal event.   To have two truly incomparable artists onstage together in the not-too-large Zankel Hall was beyond our wildest dreams.  Bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, known to us before last night as a world-class opera singer, gave every evidence of being a world-class recitalist; we were thrilled to see a new aspect of his artistry.  Likewise, we have never attended a solo recital in which Wolfram Rieger has been the collaborative pianist.  The teamwork of the two artists resulted in an evening that set the bar for vocal recitals.  We were transfixed.

Mr. Pisaroni is in perfect control of his instrument and chose wisely in his selections.  For many of the earlier songs in the program, he used the lighter baritonal qualities of his voice, enabling the flexibility necessary for the ornamentation;  he revealed the majesty and depth of the bass range later on when the songs called for it. 

He has impeccable diction, making every word audible and comprehensible--very valuable since no titles were projected and we could not tear our eyes away to read the translations in the program. His phrasing always made sense and his ability to change the feeling tone from song to song, and even within a song, allowed us to feel the feelings along with him.

Mr. Rieger is a piano partner any singer would be fortunate to work with.  In last night's performance, he seemed to breathe along with Mr. Pisaroni while always bringing out the emotional subtext of the song.  He has a light touch that always supports but never overwhelms the vocal line.  The ease with which his fingers fly over the keys is nothing short of astonishing.

We agree with the common belief that Schubert was the greatest composer of lieder, not just in his own century but for all time; his work has never been matched.  We only wish that contemporary composers could learn from his vocal lines; from the way he wrote for the voice, one would think his background was that of a singer.  We mention this because holding this belief does not take away from the genius of Mozart, who tossed off his songs as gifts; nor of Beethoven or Mendelssohn.  They were titans, all of them.

Most of the songs on the program were familiar to us so it pleased us to just sit back and allow Mr. Pisaroni's communicative skills to invite us into the world of each song.  From the set of Mozart songs, we enjoyed the delicacy of "Das Veilchen", the lovely light piano figurations in "Komm, liebe Zither" and the charm of "An Chloë".  But when Mr. Pisaroni sang the philosophical "Abendempfindung" we were moved to tears, perhaps not flooding down our cheeks but surely moistening our eyes as we contemplated the message of the transitory nature of life.

In the set of songs by Beethoven, we particularly enjoyed the piano accompaniment and the gentle melody of "Zärtliche Liebe".  Mr. Pisaroni brought out the humor in "Der Kuss" which is one of our very favorite songs. 

He put particular color into the set of songs by Mendelssohn.  The rhythmic motion of the galloping elves in "Neue Liebe" painted quite a picture in our mind's eye.  The familiar "Auf Flügeln des Gesanges" was given a particular lyrical spin.

The second half of the program was Schubert, all Schubert and nothing but Schubert.  (You won't hear any complaints from a woman who heard almost all of Schubert's 600 plus songs at the hands of Lachlan Glen and Jonathan Ware.)  It was in the first grouping, all settings of texts by Heinrich Heine, that we heard the depths of Mr. Pisaroni's vocal register and the depths of  Schubert's despair as well as Heine's irony and bitterness. "Der Atlas" is a grim song and "Ihr Bild" expresses intense loss.  What a relief it was to hear the cheerful barcarole "Das Fischermädchen".  In "Die Stadt" the diminished arpeggios in the piano lent a mysterious air.  "Der Doppelgänger" was given a solemn reading and a sense of eeriness.

The group of songs composed to texts by Goethe included the four-voiced highly dramatic "Erlkonig".  The narrator is neutral, the father's voice is lower and attempts to reassure the sick child and the erlkonig's voice is high and seductive.  Mr. Pisaroni nailed three of them especially the oily erlkonig, but the frightened child sounded too deep and forceful for our taste.    "Grenzen der Menschheit" gave the singer an opportunity to exercise the very bottom of his register and the sweetness of "Ganymed" with its shift from major to minor mode was a lovely contrast.

It was a most generous program and we were surprised and delighted that Mr. Pisaroni gave us two encores.  He charmingly announced that he was tired of singing in German and did two songs in Italian, one by Beethoven, "L'amante impaziente", and one by Schubert, "Il modo di prender moglie".  They were lovely songs but at this point I would have listened raptly if he were singing the phone book.

What a completely satisfying evening!  The next time this duo gives a recital, guess who will be first in line.

ⓒ meche kroop

STARS OF TOMORROW

Raymond Wong and William Goforth
Yesterday we attended Juilliard's 168th Liederabend.  Have we attended all 168 of them?  No, but we wish we had because they are monthly treats we heartily anticipate.  If you attend one of them, you will likely become a regular, such is the high quality of the performances.  To make the deal even sweeter, there is absolutely no charge whatsoever!  Even when we have an event to review at 7:30 (as we did Thursday night), we find it worth the effort to dash up to 65th St. for a delightful hour discovering the stars of tomorrow.  Then you can say "I heard him/her when he/she was a student" and be complimented for your perspicacity.

Yesterday's recital was the first of the year and we heard four voice students of great promise, all of whom we would love to hear again.  The four collaborative pianists were of equally impressive skill.  First on the program was William Goforth,  whose sweet tenor we recall fondly from last year.  Accompanied by Raymond Wong, the pair performed Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte, an outpouring of German Romanticism but still carrying over much from the Classical Period.  These songs of romantic longing are performed without a break, relying on chord progressions to weave them together.  Mr. Goforth sang them in fine German with  admirable word coloring, possibly due to having translated the text himself.  

Mr. Goforth seemed to "taste" each word and we understand because we too love the taste of German in our mouth.  He increased the dramatic impact with dynamic variety.  As the cycle progressed his involvement grew and we felt drawn into the world of nature.  Mr. Wong contributed a great deal by emphasizing the changes to minor and back to major.  His light fingers created the sounds of nature--twittering birds and babbling brooks.  The three descending notes from "Wo die Berge so blau" have haunted us all night.

Soprano Onadek Winan has a nice ring to her voice, quite suitable for Richard Strauss.  She performed three songs from his Mädchenblumen and captured nicely the various moods of the flowers, representative of women-- the modest cornflower in "Kornblumen", the fiery poppy of "Mohnblumen" and the soulful ivy of "Epheu".  Mr. Strauss must have had a fine time limning the characterizations of all the various types of women he came across.  We confess to enjoying the fiery poppy the most.  Edward Kim was Ms. Winan's piano partner and fell right in with the three moods.

Marguerite Jones has a nice-sized mezzo and a facility for story telling which she used to play the role of Anzoleta encouraging her lover Momolo in a gondola race.  Rossini's La regatta veneziana requires a lot of intense excitement on the part of both pianist and singer.  Ms. Jones' personality carried the day; she sang in the Venetian dialect, as is customarily done.  Again, performing her own translations probably contributed to her success.  She produced three distinct moods in the three songs of the cycle.  We loved the rocking barcarole rhythm in HoJae Lee's piano.

Baritone Kurt Kanazawa, also remembered from last year, performed a cycle of songs by Guy Ropartz (a contemporary of Strauss) entitled Quatre poems d'apres L'Intermezzo d'Henri Heine.  (We guess that's what they call Heinrich in France!)  The Prelude and Postlude gave pianist  Kristen Doering a chance to shine and the four songs between were of unrelieved romantic despair; it was up to Mr. Kanazawa to provide some variety which he did by varying the dynamics and exploring the depth of feeling in the text.  The final song had the rhythm of a funeral march.  We know little of the composer and were not particularly impressed with the cycle.

We hoped to return to a more cheerful aspect with Kara Sainz and William Kelley performing Manuel de Falla's lively cycle Siete Canciones populares Espanolas but it was time to leave for Carnegie Hall to hear Luca Pisaroni.  So, we apologize to Ms. Sainz; we heard her last year and are sure she did a fine job.

© meche kroop


Thursday, October 16, 2014

SONGFUSION--Personified

Eric Sedgwick, Michael Kelly, Mary Mackenzie, and Samantha Malk

We have reviewed baritone Michael Kelly's performances on many prior occasions and have always been impressed, not only by the satiny quality of his voice but by his perfect diction and his ability to tell a story in a meaningful way.  This was the first time we have been witness to his talents as an impresario or producer.  Last night he curated an evening of songs at The National Opera Center. The photographer Matthew Morrocco, inspired by the songs, contributed photographs that were projected above the singers.  The songs in the program were in turn inspired by and organized according to the Chinese zodiac, involving not just animals but elements of nature.  The program notes were fascinating.

Mr. Kelly was joined by two outstanding young women whose vocal and dramatic skills matched his own. Mary Mackenzie has that bright shiny soprano that we love to listen to and Samantha Malk's mellow mezzo rested easily on the ear.  Both of them demonstrated the same superb diction as Mr. Kelly, making sense of works we have heard before and not cared much about.  Piano partner Eric Sedgwick showed a sensitivity of touch and great versatility, working equally well with the modern and the traditional.

As readers already know, our taste runs toward the traditional so it is no accident that our favorite songs fell into that category.  Ms. Mackenzie and Ms. Malk performed a marvelous duet by Brahms entitled "Jägerlied", exchanging question and answer.  Mr. Kelly's delivery of the fatalistic "Der Tannenbaum" by Richard Wagner was chilling and emotional.  Neither did he stint on the menace of Schoenberg's "Warnung"; it made us shiver.

Fauré's "Eau Vivante", a tribute to a spring, was given a beautifully bright and clear delivery by Ms. Mackenzie.  We understood every word of her French, even though the range was rather high.  She also excelled in Poulenc's "Tu vois le feu du soir", making good use of enough dynamic variety to make the several verses interesting.  

We enjoyed Ms. Malk the most in Brahms' "Von Ewiger Liebe", a song that always touches our heart.  She is a born storyteller and drew us in.  In terms of storytelling, however, nothing matched Mr. Kelly's dramatic telling of Hugo Wolf's "Der Feuerreiter", a song filled with horror.

In the category of more modern pieces, we liked Copland's "The Little Horses" in which Ms. Mackenzie made vivid contrast between the gentle soothing verses and the lively description of the types of horses the child would wake to have.  We like English best when good use is made of the clever rhymes it allows (as in Gilbert and Sullivan) so it is no surprise that we loved the humorous "Judged by the Company One Keeps" by David Sisco--given a sensational delivery by Mr. Kelly.

Of all the Britten songs on the program, we far preferred "A Charm", a setting of a 17th c. text by Thomas Randolf.  Ms. Malk gave it an intense delivery and captured the irony of trying to terrify a child into sleep!  But we also were quite taken with Britten's "Silver" because of the lovely poetry by de la Mare; Mr. Kelly made generous use of word coloring to enhance the effect. 

The program tied each song to an animal and/or an element, surely an unusual way to organize a program.  It had the effect of making us search our own Chinese zodiac sign on Google.  We like Western astrology better!  Although the concept of music inspiring photography, we did not succeed at grasping the connections and preferred to focus on the glorious voices.

© meche kroop 

A CLOSE SHAVE

The cast of Martinú's Comedy on the Bridge at Gotham Chamber Opera
(photo by Richard Termine)

We cannot think of another company who could have brought out all the crazy humor and satire in Czech composer Bohuslav Martinú's twin bill.  We didn't know opera could be so much fun.  But opening night of Gotham Chamber Opera's double bill at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College was just plain down and dirty FUN.  But it would be a mistake to shortchange the substantial underpinnings.  Sometimes the best way to learn is with humor, not with preaching.   We laughed.  We learned.

In Alexander Bis we are transported to a highly stylized Parisian home populated by absurd characters and surreal situations; the acting is equally stylized in a cartoonish manner.  An adorable maid (mezzo Cassandra Zoé Velasco) is dusting everything in sight with a shocking pink feather duster, the only spot of color on the highly stylized black and white set.  A portrait of a man, portrayed by bass Joseph Beutel, hangs on the wall; he comments on the action and interacts with the singers.

Alexander, the man of the house, (baritone Jarrett Ott) is testing his wife's fidelity by shaving his beard and pretending to be his Texas cousin.  His wife Armande (soprano Jenna Siladie) sees through the disguise but is wildly attracted to him.  At night in his arms she has a nightmare involving murder and some devils prancing around in red unitards with pink tutus.  (I kid you not!)

This good faithful woman, having had a taste of "infidelity" is now tempted by an athletic man she had previously rejected. An audience favorite, Oscar (tenor Jason Slayden) arrives on a bicycle in a wild and colorful costume.  Poor Alexander in his jealousy has created what he feared.  We got it.  We loved it.  We wanted to see it again!

The second one-act opera on the program was Comedy on the Bridge.  In this opera, the characters are not as absurd but the situation is.  Poor Popelka (the versatile Ms. Siladie, well remembered and reviewed by us last summer in Santa Fe) is crossing a bridge from a town which she has visited to find her soldier brother in an enemy camp.  Her "safe conduct" gets her past the sentry of the enemy town but the "friendly" sentry at the entrance to her own town will not admit her.  He is decidedly unfriendly!  So the poor girl is stuck on the bridge in a "no man's land". The two sentries are amusingly costumed in identical costumes of black and white, except the colors are reversed--even the beards.

Soon she is joined by the lecherous married hops farmer Bedroň (Mr. Beutel)  who imposes himself on her.  He is also stranded in "no man's land".  Next comes her fiancé Sykoš (Mr. Ott) who, convinced she has cheated on him, breaks off their engagement.  Next to arrive is Eva, Bedroň's wife (mezzo Abigail Fischer), who is ready to divorce her husband for philandering.  Finally the school master Učitel (Mr. Slayden) arrives, stumped by a riddle.  The running joke through the opera is the rigidity and close-mindedness we observe in the sentries, small people given great powers.  

When bullets start flying with great orchestral impact, the five trapped townspeople make peace with one another and by the end of the opera there is a happy ending.  We cannot help but think about the ridiculous aspects of war and of bureaucracy.  But we are thinking this with a big smile on our face.

The operas were wisely cast with talented singers who threw themselves into their roles with appropriate style, guided by James Marvel's impressive direction.  Every bit of stage business was motivated and the interaction between the characters, while absurd, made sense within the context of the absurd situation into which they were thrust.  Alexandre Bis was performed in French and the diction of the lower male voices surpassed that of the high female voices.  (That seems to always be the case).  The second opera was performed in Czech which delighted us no end.  The words, although not understood by this non-Czech-speaker, lined up perfectly with the music and delighted the ear.

And what about this music, written between the two World Wars?  We loved it!  It was consistently accessible and varied in tone, unlike so much music of the 1920's and 1930's.  To call it pleasing and tuneful is not to damn with faint praise.  The tone of the music always seemed to highlight the character of the singer and the situation. We particularly liked the emphatic battle music and the tender music for Popelka.  Neal Goren's conducting left nothing to be desired and the orchestra performed with verve and pizazz.

Production values were impressive all around.  We couldn't imagine a better set design than that of Cameron Anderson with effective lighting by Clifton Taylor.  Fabio Toblini's costumes were marvelously designed and always suited the characterizations--witness Popelka's charming peasant dress and Oscar's wildly bizarre costume.

How exciting to discover a composer largely neglected in the United States but probably given a great deal of attention in Czechoslovakia.  We wouldn't hesitate a minute to see more of his works.

© meche kroop

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PRETTY IS AS PRETTY DOES

Kamal Khan and Pretty Yendy

Every now and then a singer comes onstage and shows such a wealth of positive attributes that we sit up straighter and take notice.  Our eyes rested on Pretty Yendy's beautiful face and form, her stylish gowns and her easy stage presence.  Our ears perked up as witnesses to her thrilling instrument, superlative technique and innate musicality.  Furthermore, she exuded warmth and a good-natured spirit.  It was all there and we delighted in recognizing a new star in the celestial realm of opera.

Ms. Yendy's New York debut recital was part of a celebration of South African culture--UBUNTU, taking place at Carnegie Hall.  This wondergirl was born in South Africa and, interestingly enough, her unfailingly sensitive piano partner, Kamal Khan, also has South African ties --Cape Town Opera and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.  The two of them had such an impressive onstage partnership it was as if they were telepathically connected.

This lovely soprano has superlative coloratura technique, making her a natural for the bel canto selections with which she opened the program.  She made the four songs her own with judicious use of rubato, fine vibrato, flexibility in her shifts from legato to staccato, and a preternaturally smooth portamento.  We heard Rossini's "La promessa", Bellini's "Vanne, o rosa fortunata" (both settings of texts by Metastasio) and two selections by Donizetti.  We particularly enjoyed the barcarolle-like fantasy "Me voglio fa 'na casa".

Next we heard some lovely songs written by Debussy when he was about 20 years old, inspired by an older married lover--his muse.  Can one possibly listen to "Mandoline", text by Paul Verlaine, without thinking of a Fragonard painting?  The vocal fireworks we heard in "O beau pays de la Touraine" from Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots cemented our opinion of the artist's coloratura skills.  Embellishments simply poured out of her effortlessly. Our wish for Ms. Yendy is for her French diction to rise to the level of her Italian. There were no titles and the words might have been more clearly articulated.

Last week we heard Jennifer Johnson Cano (a mezzo) sing Liszt's "Pace non trovo"; last night Ms. Yendy sang it with excellent messa di voce and some high notes that would shatter crystal.  Petrarch's sonnets inspired Liszt and Liszt's music inspired Ms. Yendy and Mr. Kahn to a dramatically thrilling performance.

We could scarcely believe our good fortune to hear more zarzuela right on the heels of yesterday's event in Queens.  That patter song "La tarántula" from Giménez' La Tempranica was well done but it was "Me llaman la primorosa" from El barbero de Sevilla that we wanted to hear again and again.   

The program ended with the entire sleepwalking scene from Bellini's La Sonnambula; this gave Ms. Yendy an opportunity to show the varying moods of Amina, each mood with its own vocal challenges.  The audience was over the moon and Ms. Yendy rewarded us with no less than three stunning encores.

The first was "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, an endearing aria if ever there was one.  The second was an Ubuntu Celebration Song; we may not have understood the words but the warm feelings of fellowship came across the footlights.  And finally, because the audience would not let her go, she sang her final encore-"I Want to Be a Prima Donna", from Victor Herbert's 1911 operetta The Enchantress.  She wants it?  She gets it! She deserves it.

© meche kroop





Monday, October 13, 2014

VIVA ZARZUELA!

Maestro Jorge Parodi and cast of Zarzuela

This was indeed a weekend of discovery.  Yesterday we wrote about the operas of Carlos Gomes deserving more recognition and now we are writing about the thrill of discovering more about zarzuela than we did before.  Zarzuela was Spain's 19th c. answer to Italian opera (although it continued onto the shores of El Nuevo Mondo and into the 20th century) and shares a number of the features that make Italian opera so exciting--interesting stories about love, passion, betrayal and loyalty, supported by lavishly melodic music.  The music is accessible and sounds familiar, even when it is not.

The Spanish Lyric Theatre brought an afternoon of zarzuela to the Centro Español de Queens; judging by the appreciative applause the largely Spanish speaking audience enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

Eighteen members of the flexible Metamorphosis Chamber Orquestra provided the music and they were in the good hands (no, the great hands) of star conductor Jorge Parodi who needs no baton.  He conducts with his dancing hands and his entire body.  He kept the orchestra perfectly balanced with well-articulated winds emerging over a lovely carpet of strings.

The stage design was simple but effective--a cocktail lounge in which men and women came together, interacted and shared their stories. The singers, without exception, threw heart and soul into the passionate arias, duets and ensembles.  The words we heard sung most often were "mi amor", mi vida", "tus ojos" and "mi corazon".  You get the picture!  What emotions other than love require us to burst into song!

One of our favorite sopranos, Amaia Arberas, served as Program Director and deserves accolades for putting together a program drawn from several works by different composers and uniting them into a cohesive whole.  Perhaps our favorite work would be Barbieri's El Barberillo de Lavapies which shares just a little with Rossini's Barber of Seville--only the contrast between the working folk and the aristocracy.  

In "The Entrada de Lamparilla" tenor Antón Armendariz (who also served effectively as Stage Director) used his pure sweet tenor and excellent dramatic skills to limn a character of outsize personality. When Ms. Arberas joined him for the duet of Paloma and Lamparilla it was clear that two enormously skilled artists were onstage together in a number that permitted delightful interaction.

Ms. Arberas also excelled in the rapid patter of "Zapateando" from Gimenez' La Tempranica. and the flamenco-influenced "Las Carceleras" from Chapi's Las Hijas del Zebedeo; accompanying her on the piano was the superb Ainhoa Urkijo.

Her duet with soprano Virginia Herrera "Niñas que Venden Flores" from Barbieri's Los Diamantes de la Corona was filled with high spirits; the two sopranos harmonized magnificently.  Ms. Herrera also excelled in the aria of suffering "Romanza" from Lecuona's María la O, accompanied by Ms. Urkijo's lilting piano.

There were only two works on the program that we have heard many times before.  Lara's "Granada" was well rendered by tenor Hamid Rodriguez as was the bitter "No Puede Ser" from Zorozabal's La Tabernera del Puerto.

Bass Eliam Ramos showed dramatic depth in "Despierta Negro" from the same zarzuela and, accompanied by Ms. Urkijo, delivered a heartfelt rendition of "Sasibil" from Guridi's El Caserío .

Tenor Cesar Delgado joined Ms. Amaia for "Este Pañuelito Blanco" from Torroba's La Chulapona, which had a fine clarinet introduction; he has a real inclination for Torroba as he demonstrated in his fine solo "De Este Apacible Rincón de Madrid" from Luisa Fernanda.

Rafael Abolafia played the part of the bartender with great style and narrated the action.

Other zarzuelas on the program included Arrieta's Marina, Caballero's El Duo de la Africana ( a humorous one), and Serrano's La Alegría del Batallon.

High on our wish list would be an opportunity to see one or more of these works performed in its entirety, staged and costumed.  Is anyone else interested?

© meche kroop