BWW Review: MOZART ONSTAGE: THE DRAMA OF LOVE at Classical Tahoe
On August 5, 2017, high in the Sierra Mountains of Nevada, Classical Tahoe presented four of San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellows in a program of music by Gaetano Donizetti, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Giuseppe Verdi. The Adler Fellowship Program is a multi-year performance-oriented residency for promising young artists that offers intensive individual coaching, professional seminars and a wide range of performance opportunities. The musicians of the Classical Tahoe Orchestra are individually invited from the great orchestras of the United States and beyond, including: the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, the San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, and Vancouver Symphonies.
The Classical Tahoe Orchestra opened the concert with a fast and rousing version of the overture to Mozart's COSI FAN TUTTE (THEY ALL DO IT). Soprano Amina Edris began the vocal part of the program singing Norina's amusing aria from Donizetti's DON PASQUALE, "Quel gardo il cavalieri." ("The glance that pierced the knight's heart"). She enchanted the audience with her her artful moves and colorful vocal tones as she told how she could capture a man's mind and make him her plaything. Amitai Pati, a tenor with a beautiful lyric sound, then sang "Quanto é bella, quanto é cara" ("How beautiful, how dear") from the first scene of same composer's L'ELISIR D'AMORE ("THE ELIXIR OF LOVE").
Bradley Walker, a baritone with a rather large voice that has some heft to it, sang the "Catalog Aria" from Mozart's DON GIOVANNI with some most amusing twists and turns as he leafed through a full-sized book, supposedly of his employer's conquests. Although this Leporello seemed to disapprove of Don Giovanni's actions, the audience could also detect his enjoyment of the situation. Walker received a great deal of applause at the end.
For the pre-intermission finale, Toni Marie Palmertree appeared in a sparkling deep blue gown to sing "Tacea la notte placido" ("The Night is silent and calm") from Verdi's IL TROVATORE. Although most young singers would not be ready to do such a difficult aria, Palmertree is an exceptional talent and she sang both the legato aria and its dramatic coloratura cabaletta with style and grace.
After the intermission and some pertinent announcements, the artists returned to present full fledged scenes from Mozart's THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, DON GIOVANNI, and COSI FAN TUTTE (THEY ALL DO IT). Edris as Susanna and Walker as Figaro gave us the opening of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO in which Susanna points out the danger of a bedroom too "convenient" to that of the Count. When Figaro finally got her message, he sang about playing the tune for the Count's dance.
Edris and Palmertree returned with the lovely lyrical duet, "Che soave zeffiretto" ("What a soft breeze"). They followed the duet with the Act I final ensemble, "Cosa sento?" ("What do I hear?") which required someone, in this case Announcer Cindy Rhys, to hide behind a chair as the page, Cherubino. Edris again sang Susanna; Walker, the Count; and Pati, the music teacher who simply lived to gossip; as they completed this wonderfully intricate Mozart ensemble.
In the duet, "La ci darem la mano," Walker as Don Giovanni invited Edris as Zerlina to give him her hand and accompany him to a bedroom. She sang with silvery tones as she began to be tempted. He sang with complete security as he expected to add yet another name to his list. It was a sparkling duet and they sang it with gusto. With some changes in role, they sang the quartet "Non ti fidar" ("Don't trust him"). Edris was a wary Elvira, Pamertree a lush-voiced Anna, Pati a sweet sounding Ottavio, and Walker a somewhat ruffled Don Giovanni.
Having opened the concert with music from COSI FAN TUTTE, Classical Tahoe closed with Palmertree and Pati singing the amorous duet, "Fra gli amplessi" ("In the embraces") from the same opera. The audience might have wished for encores because they applauded for numerous bows, but by that time these young vocal artists and the musicians who accompanied them had presented a memorable concert. Now the names of these emerging artists should be inscribed in our hearts so that we can say we saw them "way back when".
Photo of Amina Edris: San Francisco Opera