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BWW Review: Happy New Year, Dear Metropolitan, Happy New Year to You

'Met Stars Live in Concert' Rings in the New Year from Germany

BWW Review: Happy New Year, Dear Metropolitan, Happy New Year to You
From left: Camarena, Yende,
Polenzani and Blue

Looks can be deceiving, as the New Year's Eve edition of the Met's "Live in Concert" series proved in abundance. But could even the talent of four wonderful singers--sopranos, Angel Blue and Pretty Yende and a matching pair of tenors, Javier Camarena and Matthew Polenzani--breathe new life in a program filled with warhorses, from "Che gelida manina" from LA BOHEME to that Neopolitan classic, "O sole mio"?

In other words: Could it possibly be worth the airfare to get them to a theatre in Augsburg, Germany, for arias and songs that are so familiar? In a word: Yes.

We knew we were in special territory from the program's opener (introduced by Christine Goerke who spoke in depth about the concert's Covid 19 precautions): Camarena's show-stopping aria, "Ah, mes amis!" With that string of high Cs done so effortlessly (and, of course, on pitch) you'd have thought he was singing "Twinkle, twinkle little star," rather than some of the most difficult music in the tenor repertoire. I've heard him do it wonderfully in the full opera, but there was a special joy in his performance here.

For me, Blue had two special numbers: a luscious, velvety "Si, mi chiamano Mimi" from BOHEME and "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from TROVATORE with its soaring high notes, gorgeous trills and full body through the breadth of her range.

BWW Review: Happy New Year, Dear Metropolitan, Happy New Year to You
From left: Matthew
Polenzani and Angel Blue

I remember being charmed by Yende in BARBIERE's "Una voce poco fa"--with Camarena as her Almaviva--and it was a highlight of her performance here, while Polenzani's "Che gelida manina" from BOHEME was marvelous--particularly since, surprisingly, he has been doing the role Rodolfo for only a couple of years, but has made it his own.

The singers paired off for a number of pieces, including Blue and Polenzani in Lehar's romantic "Lippen schweigen" (better known as "The Merry Widow Waltz") and Yende and Camarena in the charming "Mattinata" from Leoncavallo.

If those pairings didn't cement our impression of the vast variety in the tenors of their voices, hearing the four of them in unison closed the deal. It was a blast hearing the four of them singing at once, whether it was in Eduardo di Capua's "O sole mio" or the knockout "Libiamo, ne' lieti calici" from TRAVIATA, hearing how the different voices brought their individuality to the same music.

BWW Review: Happy New Year, Dear Metropolitan, Happy New Year to You
From left: Camarena and Yende

It was a marvelous 90 minutes, with the singers well-accompanied by Cecile Restier and the Vienna Morphing Quintet that was a great way to greet the new year (though it was afternoon in New York, 2021 was pushing its way in at the Parktheater im Kurhaus Göggingen, in Augsburg, Germany, a stunning example of neo-Baroque architecture). If you weren't there, there's still time to buy a ticket to see it before the last on-demand performance of the concert from the Met's website on January 13. It would be foolish to miss it.

The Program

"Ah! Mes amis ... Pour mon âme," Donizetti's LA FILLE DU REGIMENT, Javier Camarena

"Chacun le sait," Donizetti's LA FILLE DU REGIMENT, Pretty Yende

"Che gelida manina," Puccini's LA BOHEME, Matthew Polenzani

"Sì, mi chiamano Mimì," Puccini's LA BOHEME, Angel Blue

"O soave fanciulla," Puccini's LA BOHEME, Angel Blue, Matthew Polenzani

"Quoi! Vous m'aimez?" Donizetti's LA FILLE DU REGIMENT, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena

"Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso," Puccini's LA RONDINE, Angel Blue, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Matthew Polenzani

"Sì, ritrovarla io guiro," Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA, Javier Camarena

"Una voce poco fa," Rossini's IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Pretty Yende

"La donna e mobile," Verdi's RIGOLETTO, Matthew Polenzani

"D'amor sull'ali rosee," Verdi's IL TROVATORE, Angel Blue

"Son geloso del zefiro errante," Bellini's LA SONNAMBULA, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena

"Lippen schweigen," Lehar's DIE LUSTIGE WITWE, Angel Blue, Matthew Polenzani

"Mattinata," Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena

"Torna a Surriento," Ernesto De Curtis, Angel Blue, Matthew Polenzani

"'O sole mio," Eduardo di Capua, Angel Blue, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Matthew Polenzani

"Libiamo, ne' lieti calici," Verdi's LA TRAVIATA, Angel Blue, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Matthew Polenzani

"Auld Lang Syne" (Traditional), Angel Blue, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Matthew Polenzani

For more information and tickets, see the Met's website.



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From This Author Richard Sasanow