Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 23

by Megan Meister

Last night was the second Apprentice Concert, and if last week’s opera scenes were slightly disappointing, last evening more than made up for it.

The performance got off to a roaring start with a clever staging by Kathleen Clawson from Jonathan Dove’s opera FLIGHT, featuring a dazzling performance by countertenor  John Holiday,who was this year’s winner of the Dallas Opera Guild’s Vocal Competition.  It is a beautiful voice and he was very good “on stage.”

The Saint Sulpice scene from Massenet’s MANON boasted the best performance of the night, with Danielle Pastin’s seductively sung “Manon” in very effective staging by Candace Evans.  Danielle had stepped in earlier this week to replace an indisposed Ana Maria Martinez as “Mimi” in LA BOHEME, so this has been quite a time for this talented young artist.  I expect we will be hearing much more about her andin the not too distant future.

Another delightful surprise was a scene in the second half of the program from Sondheim’s SWEENEY TODD, with Alissa Anderson and Alan Dunbar belting their way through one of that dark work’s most brilliant duets.

Another highlight of the evening was a scene from Strauss’s CAPRICCIO, also wonderfully staged by Candace Evans, and showcasing a  very promising young soprano from Houston’s Rice University named Mary-Jane Lee ( perhaps not the most operatic of stage names, but with a  lustrous voice and a charming stage presence.)

The last scene (a large chunk of Act IV of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO) had very good singers in all five roles,  but the standout was the “Gilda” of soprano Sara Heaton.

This was a wonderful way to spend my final evening in Santa Fe, and I now have a whole new crop of promising young singers of whom I will now be keeping track!

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