By Lew Loesberg
RUSSIAN OPERA WORKSHOP 2018 opened its 3-performance run of "Князь Игорь" last night. Except for the Polovtsian Dances and choral sequences, the production eschewed pageantry to focus on the intimate emotional ramifications of familial love and conjugal fidelity tested by war, duty, honor, separation, loneliness and loss of freedom.
The usual hero of ROW evenings, Maestro GHENA MEIRSON, who had a serendipitous opportunity for virtuosic keyboard playing in the Polovtsian scenes, was joined by an adjunct heroic force in voice and demeanor, Kavalierbariton TIMOTHY RENNER, in the interest of full disclosure, the raison d'être of my attendance. I had been looking forward to Tim's assumption of Игорь Святъславичь ever since I learned of his participation in this summer's program, having admired his mastery of such disparate composition personalities as those of Verdi, Strauss, Wagner and Rubinstein. Indeed, in the Borodin, if Ghena was the heart, Tim was the soul. His voice sounded huge, full, dark-hued, even-scaled from easy top to resonant middle to solid bottom, authoritative. Igor's aria, "Ни сна, ни отдыха измученной душе", was - as it should be - the grand solo centerpiece of the evening. The baritone, moreover, used his expressive dark eyes as acting tools, windows, as it were, into Igor's ethos.
One of Sweden's summer gifts to Philly, LOVISA SANDENSKOG, in the plaintive music of Yaroslavna, had the uncanny ability to sound exactly like the Soviet sopranos I listened to in my youth, when I first discovered Borodin's opera: Панова, Смоленская, Тугаринова, and the Serbian Heybalova. I especially loved Lovisa's russo-echt penetrating top (the C on "Прощaaaaaaaaaaaай!" in the Prolog, the octave leap up to high B at the end of the Lament, "Зачeeeeeeeeем!").
SAMANTHA LUNA sang the key mezzo role of Konchakovna one day after being "diagnosed" as a soprano by Angela Meade! In the event, Samantha's luscious middle range, easy top and sonorous low notes provided many pleasures as Khan Konchak's daughter.
The Khan himself, ROBERT ELLSWORTH FENG, revealed and revelled in a charismatic lyric bass; Galitsky, MICHAEL TALLINO-SMITH, made the most of his lively solo; NOAH DONAHUE handily encompassed the extremes of Vladimir's vocal lines; ERIN SCHMURA, sang the Polovtsian Maiden's melismas with aplomb; CASSIDY DIXON made an effective Nurse; WESTLEY MONTGOMERY, RICARDO GARCIA, and RANDY WESTMORELAND provided stalwart tenorial support to their respective leaders. Special accolades to the "chorus", expertly prepared and trained, who sang the most well-known melodies of the score as if it were second nature.
For Thursday evening's show, Tim switches to Galitsky, and the sensational Swedish mezzo discovery of the session, MATHILDA BRYNGELSSON, whose voice reminds me of the young Kerstin Meyer, performs Konchakovna. Since ANGELA MEADE's Master Class, I've been having recurrent dreams about Mathilda channeling vocal intensity into Charlotte, Ratmir, Vanya, Lyubasha, Komponist, Orfeo ...
Reposted from LOVEIT - Lew's Opera Views and Experiences In Tempo
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA
Current City: Philadelphia, PA
Education: Currently pursuing AD, Academy of Vocal Arts; DMA, University of Illinois; MM, Bob Jones University; BS, Bob Jones University
Select Roles: Robert, Iolanta; Dunois, The Maid of Orleans (Tchaikovsky); Escamillo from Carmen, Zurga from Les pêcheurs de perles, and Marcello from La Bohème; Prince Igor and Vladimir Galitsky, Prince Igor (Borodin); Germont, La Traviata; Music Master, Ariadne auf Naxos; Alberich, Das Rheingold; Conte di Luna, Il Trovatore; The Demon, The Demon (Anton Rubinstein); Rigoletto, Rigoletto.
Awards/Honors: Third prize, Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition (2015); First prize, S. Livingston Mather Scholarship Competition (2014); Second prize, Orpheus National Vocal Competition (2013 and 2015).
Hometown: Knivsta, Sweden
Current City: Stockholm, Sweden
Education: University College of Opera in Stockholm, Pursuing a Bachelor in Opera Vocal Performance
Select Roles: Yaroslavna, Prince Igor (Borodin); Liú, Turandot; Königin der nacht, Die Zauberflöte; Contessa di Folleville, Il Viaggo a Reims
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Current City: Phoenix, Arizona
Education: Arizona State University, Pursuing a M.M. in Opera Performance. University of Alaska Anchorage, B.M. Music Education
Select Roles: Prince Igor and Vladimir Galitsky, Prince Igor (Borodin); Marullo, Rigoletto (Verdi); Dancairo, Carmen (Bizet); Pish-Tush, The Mikado (Gilbert); Ben, The Telephone (Menotti)
Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden
Current City: Stockholm, Sweden
Education: University College of Opera in Stockholm - Bachelor's degree (Current), Berlin Opera Academy, Härnösand Operastudio, Ingesund Music University, Oskarshamn Folkhögskola
Select Roles: Konchakovna, Prince Igor (Borodin); Hänsel, Hänsel und Gretel; Orfeo, Orfeo ed Euridice; Marcellina, Le Nozze di Figaro; Zweite Dame, Die Zauberflöte
Hometown: Kailua, HI
Current City: Baltimore, MD
Education: Peabody Conservatory, BM in Voice
Select Roles: Khan Konchak, Prince Igor (Borodin); Bartolo, Le Nozze di Figaro; Le Philosophe, Chérubin; Capellio, I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Papageno, Die Zauberflöte
Awards/Honors: National Choral Award (2014)
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Current City: El Paso
Education: New Mexico State University, B.M., Vocal Performance
Select Roles: A Polovetsian Maiden, Prince Igor (Borodin); Amastre, Xerxes; Venus, Orpheus in the Underworld; First Witch, Dido and Aeneas; Monitress, Suor Angelica; Danubia, Zehn Mächen und kein Mann
Awards/Honors: NMSU Bel Canto Scholarship (2014-2016); Carse McDaniel / Rane Richardson Award (2014)
Hometown: Huntingtown, MD
Current City: Philadelphia, PA
Education: Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, BM Vocal Performance
Select Roles: Vladimir Igorevich, Prince Igor (Borodin); Asmodeus/Angel 1, Ex Paradisum, Zweiter Priester/ Armoured Man, Die Zauberflöte, Hamlet (cover), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Major Murgatroyd, Patience
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Current City: Greenville, NC
Education: M.M. Voice Performance with a Concentration in Pedagogy, East Carolina University, B.A. Music, B.A. Psychology, Maryville College
Select Roles: Anna Gomez, The Consul; Celia, Iolanthe; Sister Martha, Dialogue of the Carmelites; Assistant director, Don Giovanni
Awards/Honors: Maryville College Orchestra Showcase of Area Artists (2014)
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
Current City: Rexburg, Idaho
Education: BYU Idaho
Select Roles: Vladimir Igorevich, Prince Igor (Borodin); Ferrando, Cosi Fan Tutte; Romeo, Romeo Et Juliete
Awards/Honors: First place winner NATS competition. Third place winner Classical singers magazine competition, High School Division.
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