From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell – NYC Day 2

by Jonathan Pell

Yesterday’s auditions went quite smoothly, and I heard almost fifty singers. I was in the new Opera Center facility at the Opera America offices, which just opened a few months ago. It has always amazed me and my colleagues around the country how difficult it has been to find a decent venue in which to hear singers. Opera America, the service organization for nearly 200 North American opera companies has created this wonderful recital/audition hall in midtown Manhattan that is reasonably priced for people like me to rent for an hour, a day or I suppose even a week, in order to hear singers to their best advantage.

It took a few minutes to adjust to the acoustic, which tends to make all the singers voices sound huge, but once I was able to really gauge the space and get a feel for what it does for the voice, I think I was able to adjust and adapt what cialis online I was hearing and know how these people might sound in the Winspear.

Out of the group there were eight or nine singers I might consider engaging (these are all professional singers who are working artists, but everyone reacts differently to the human voice and I am the first to admit that evaluating singers is highly subjective.)

Last night was a performance of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO in the Met’s new production staged by Tony Award winning theatre director Michael Mayer. It has been updated and reset in 1960’s Las Vegas, and I found much of the action very clever and apt. Some of it was a little silly and the audience tittered (the pole dancing stripper in the sleazy bar on the outskirts of town run by Sparafucile and Maddalena, for example) but some of it worked really well. I loved the bit where the Duke snorted cocaine before launching into the cabaletta “Possente amor” which justified the change to a “speedy” tempo. The production certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it was well thought out and many of the director’s ideas really made the piece feel fresh.

Serbian baritone Zeljko Lucic (Nabucco in the Dallas Opera production in 2007) was the “Rigoletto” and was totally committed to the production and the audience roared their approval when he came out for his curtain call. Polish tenor Piotr Beczala was the sleazy “Duke” and German soprano Diana Damrau was the “Gilda.”. The only Italian involved with the production was conductor Michele Mariotti, who made sure that Verdi would still have recognized what he heard, even if he wouldn’t have recognized what he saw.

I neglected to mention in my last report that I had a chance to meet with composer Tobias Picker on Monday and catch up with him about various projects, including details about his new opera, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, based on the Stephen King novel, which premieres in the fall at the San Francisco Opera. He was delighted to learn that mezzo-soprano Kirstin Chávez will be singing an aria from his opera THERESE RAQUIN on our subscriber concert at the end of April, particularly since Dallas Opera commissioned the work for our 2001 season,

I have to head out now for another day of auditions, so more later…

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