She slays the audience, Melody Moore does, with the simplest of means,
looking innocent, harmless. But beware: she WILL get you.
The soprano from Tennessee has a huge voice, but that's not the point;
she projects well, but you're hardly aware of that. She does what is
the most simple, the most difficult: she disappears in the music. Tonight,
she sang what is among the most transparent and known of all music in
opera: the Act I duet of "Boheme." Following Sean Panikkar's sweet,
affecting "O soave fanciulla," Moore began her aria, her voice quiet and
warm, and if it were possible to analyze what happened (it isn't because
only the music mattered), one might think that for 4-5 minutes, she sang
a single phrase.
This extraordinary performance, which brought the house down, was among
the many high points of tonight's Adler Fellows Gala Concert in the War
Memorial, honor graduates of the Merola Opera Program closing their
Moore's Mimi, Panikkar's Rodolfo, Kimwana Doner's ("Trovatore") Leonora,
Kendall Gladen's ("Werther") Charlotte, and Rhoslyn Jones' ("Onegin")
Tatiana shared rare characteristics of effortless musicianship. These
young artists, appearing on a huge stage, before an audience of some
3,000, managed to hold up the music to shine by itself, hiding (or
disappearing) effort or artifice. (Panikkar, one of the most talented
young lyric tenors to emerge here in a long time, does well in everything,
but Puccini may not be as suitable for him as French repertoire.)
The evening opened with Donald Runnicles conducting a ridiculously
raucous "Candide" Overture ("Why so loud?" "Because we can!"), settling
down for the rest of the evening, conductor and orchestra soon reaching
their customary level of excellence, especially in the Act II scene
of "Billy Budd" (with Matthew O'Neill as a superb Captain Vere), and -
strangely enough - in a scene from Gordon Getty's "Plump Jack." This
contemporary treatment of Falstaff (sung by Jeremy Galyon) doesn't exactly
belong in the company of Verdi and Puccini, but the orchestra really did
its best, compelling the composer, sitting in the box nearest to the
stage, to acknowledge the musicians enthusiastically.
The most substantial piece of the evening was the opening "Alcina"
excerpt, five scenes from Act III. This was fireworks time, with Elza
van den Heever's Alcina (the big, slightly metallic voice bouncing off
the walls), Gladen's Bradamante, Gerald Thompson's Ruggiero (the
counter-tenor/male soprano not quite up to his usual brilliance), and
Eugene Brancoveanu, who sings more small roles on the main stage this
season than any other Adler Fellow in history, sang a rather hoarse Count
di Luna, a funny Marcello, and an impassioned Onegin.
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