Saturday, May 24, 2014

Call me Madama!

While I am aware that it is de rigueur that one does not write rave reviews about one's own students, I feel compelled to state that last night Kathleen Callahan Hardman took on Madama Butterfly and came out the winner.

This role is one of the longest and most difficult vocally in the soprano repertoire. Once Cio Cio San  makes her entrance she seldom stops singing. And of course, it is an emotional and tragic role to enact.

Kate brought her beautiful voice and fine acting skills to the role and produced a touching, strong characterization.

This production by the Connecticut Lyric Opera and the Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra was presented by The Greater Middletown Concert Association at Middletown High School.

Adrian Sylveen was the conductor and led his ensemble well. At times the orchestra out-balanced the singers, especially when they were singing in their mid-range.

Other cast members included Silvana Chu as Suzuki, singing with a fine voice and always in character. Daniel Juarez was B.F. Pinkerton. His tenor voice lacks focus in the middle range and he was often covered by the orchestra. He was able to produce high notes with clarion power.

I especially liked Luke Scott as Sharpless and Daniel Kamalic as Goro. Both of these men sang with fine sound that was always heard over the orchestra.The other male singers were also very good: Dean Murphy as Prince Yamadori, Ivan Conrad as The Bonze, and Miguel Angel Vasquez as the commissioner.

Most of the stage direction by Zalewski Sadlak was what you might expect with two exceptions. At the end of the Act 1 love duet I have usually seen Cio Cio San and Pinkerton walk offstage as they sing their high Cs (making it easier to have them sound pianissimo). Here they stood center stage and belted it out to the audience. 

Secondly, at the end, after Butterfly sends the little child out to play and then kills herself, in this version she blindfolds the child who sits in the room during the act. Then when Pinkerton runs back on stage shouting Butterfly! Butterfly! Butterfly!, he usually falls on the floor beside her holding her dead body. Here when he came back, he knelt beside her for a moment, then picked up the child and handed him to his American wife who was waiting in the garden. Instant adoption. Rather insensitive, I would say.

I must hand it to this group for tackling an opera of this stature. It is a big undertaking for a small, local opera company.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I love Amanda!

Why anyone but Amanda McBroom should be allowed to sing cabaret is beyond me. Alice and I saw her 5:00 p.m. show today and, as always, she blew me away.

This lady knows how to sing and act and reach out into the audience and tug at your heart strings. When she sings the song she wrote for her daddy, a movie star, whose name was always 'Four or five down from Errol Flynn', I get misty-eyed. 

And so does she.

She is so much in the moment of every song she sings that her emotion becomes your emotion. 

Michelle Brourman, her long-time pianist is an equally talented musician and the co-composer of many of her songs.

Together they put on a cabaret act that is as compelling as anything I have ever seen. 

After the show I spoke to her and told her that she was one of my two favorite singers.

The other is Montserrat Caballe.

That is great company to be in.

Catch her on You Tube or at

You will be enchanted!