BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA'S AMAZING NIGHT at At The Balboa Theatre
The San Diego Opera's first Detour Series performance this season was "One Amazing Night" with Soprano Ailyn Pérez, tenor Joshua Guerrero and accompanist Abdiel Vázquez. All are outstanding young award winners with impressive resumes. The first half featured operatic arias, enjoyable and worth the ticket price on their own. But the second half was something different--and special. In it the artists performed classic popular Mexican songs they grew up with, and their passionate affection was obvious. Vázquez was born in Mexico. Pérez and Guerrero are American children of Mexican immigrants.
Pérez opened the concert with Juliet's "Je veux vivre" from Charles Gounod's opera Roméo et Juliette. The coloratura soprano transitions from a whisper to hall-vibrating power with velvety ease and beauty. Guerrero displayed equally impressive vocal flexibility when he followed with Romeo's "Ah, lève-toi soleil!" His youthful voice has great warmth and enough power to have blended well with Pérez's in the duet, "Nuit d'Hymenée," the final selection from Gounod's opera.
Arias by Puccini followed. Pérez sang "In quelle trine morbide" from Manon Lescault and Guerrero "Donna non vidi mai" from the same opera.
When the focus switched to Madama Butterfly Pérez earned loud applause for the familiar "Un bel di." The duet "Vogliatemi bene" brought the first half to a close and met with equally deserved approval.
Pérez's wardrobe added to the concert's visual interest. She entered the stage in form-fitting bright red, changing to a beautiful silvery dress with a floor-length cape before returning for "Un bel di." Guerrero commented with a good natured smile, "I only have one tux." He'd have gotten an even bigger laugh with, "And no socks," since his ankles showed bare above shiny black shoes. The tenor was entirely relaxed during both halves of the concert. Pérez seemed a be a bit nervous at times, though it never affected the quality of her singing nor the playful romantic chemistry between her and Guerrero, good off-stage friends.
Pérez had her best moments in the arias, while Guerrero took more readily to the style Mexican vocalists usually bring to the boleros that followed intermission. Though neither singer had to strain to be heard in the Balboa Theatre's excellent acoustics, microphones rather than operatic voice-projection were appropriately chosen for most of the Latin tunes.
Pérez led off the homage to Mexican composers in a second red dress that may have come out of the wardrobe for Carmen. She sang Agustín Lara's "Solamente una vez," a hit as "You Belong to My Heart" by Bing Crosby in the 40s. After Guerrero's version of Álvaro Carrillo's "Sabor a mi," Pérez returned with "Cuando vuelva a tu lado" by Maria Grever, a huge hit for Dinah Washington as "What A Difference A Day Makes." Pérez's fourth and final dress was a return to elegant silver, this time with small reflectors that flashed brilliantly in the spotlight.
The remaining tunes by Roberto Cantoral and others were less familiar to most of those those born in the U.S., but were greeted with pleased appreciative murmurs by the large Spanish-speaking contingent in the audience, especially during a medley of songs made popular by singer José José.
Abdiel Vázquez was the consummate accompanist throughout the concert. A few introductory passages and fillers gave a hint of the technique that has resulted in numerous engagements as a soloist with major orchestras. On this evening he stayed in the background to provide sensitive pianistic support, and pleased smiles as the singers took their bows.
Extended standing ovations brought the performers back for three encores. Pérez delighted the audience with Manuel Ponce's "Estrellita." Guerrero switched back to operatic for the second encore, a brash flamboyant version of Lara's "Granada" that garnered one of the evening's most enthusiastic rounds of applause. The singers concluded an Amazing Evening with an affecting version of the gorgeous first act duet "O soave fanciulla" from Puccini's La Bohème.
For information about the performances remaining in this season visit the San Diego Opera website.
Photos courtesy San Diego Opera.
This concert was presented by San Diego Opera on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.