One could go visit the opera and experience a love story with fierce drama and top-notch musical quality throughout the season, but getting not just the drama and quality, but a sampling of music from over ten different scores is a rare treat. "A Night At The Opera" featuring MISO (Miami Symphony Orchestra) and the vocal studio of Manny Perez was just that - a truly delectable treat featuring a different soloist for each aria.
The show was wonderfully arranged both in terms of the order of the performances and the song choices. Everyone was roused at the start of the show with Mozart's Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro , leading beautifully into Rossini's "Una voce poco fa" from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a show I've seen twice via the Florida Grand Opera that I'm sure is familiar to most who frequent theater (and even those who don't). As the show went on, the audience got a little bit of everything, played to the strengths of each vocal artist, building up slowly, up until the breath-taking finale featuring Susana Diaz on Verdi's "Sempre Libera" from La Traviata and then Marinel Cruz on Boito's "L'altra notte in fondo al mare" from Mefistofele. There was nothing left to top Marinel's performance once she was through.
It felt as though the first half of the show, though solid by its own right, was more soft or light in tone compared with the force that was the second half. It boldly began with Bizet's Prelude to Act I of Carmen, leading straight into "La Fleur que tu m'avais jetée" featuring the fabulous tenor of Martin Nusspaumer. He did a fantastic job, and after Betsy Diaz performed her lovely Soprano piece of Massenet's "Il est doux, il est bon" from Hérodiade, Fernando Fabiaun strode in with Verdi's "La mia Letizia in fondere" from I Lombardi that left the biggest impression on me among the tenors. His voice is clear as a bell and incredibly pleasant to listen to along with the music.
Needless to say, it's a shame that the performance only had two nights as it deserves much more attention and praise. Manny Perez of course should be applauded for finding and fostering such great talent, and it should also be noted that the orchestra played beautifully under the command of guest conductor Hobart Earle. He had lots of energy and led the show splendidly, escorting each soloist on and off the stage in between numbers.
The last point I wanted to make is, I particularly liked seeing the soloists sing on the same platform as the orchestra. When I go to the opera, I usually get the lower seats and have a very limited view of the orchestra, but the vocal artists are very much a part of the arrangement and are guided by the conductor just the same. In this case, we saw them among the musicians, a voice among the instruments meshing together to create the beautiful music we heard that night. As I said before, it's a rare treat and I do hope there is another show like it in the future.
[further reading: Dorothy Hindman of South Florida Classical Review's article on the performance]
[images taken with my mobile]