Lunchtime saw the annual concert featuring visiting members of the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal. It turned into something of a Donizettifest. First up was soprano Cécile Muhire with Adina’s aria Prendi, per me sei libero. This was quite competently sung though she seemed very nervous. The nerves seemed to vanish though when she was joined by her Nemorino, Jean-Philippe Fortier-Lazure, for the duet when he tries the elixir. One of the things that has always struck me about the Ensemble Studio is how quickly it teaches singers to have stage presence. J-P was a very funny, rather drunk, Nemorino and his swagger seemed to rub off on Cécile who looked much more at home in this number.
Mezzo Alexandra Beley gets bonus points for not singing Donizetti! Her first piece was Da, chas nastal from Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans. This was a very passionate reading with lots of really nice, dark mezzo tones and apparently great comfort singing in Russian. Her second piece was the rather grim Give him this orchid from Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (and there’s a lot of it about). Again, dark and dramatic. Good stuff.
The one chap in the Montreal contingent was tenor Pasquale D’Alessio, who also sang Nemorino. In this case Una furtiva lagrima. It’s quite a pleasant voice but not a big voice which wasn’t too much of a problem in the Donizetti but was rather exposed in the duet Au fond du temple saint from Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles sung with Iain McNeil. Iain has developed a lot in the last year and his rich, quite powerful baritone really needed to be partnered with a bigger, bolder tenor.
The second soprano on the program, Magali Simard-Galdès, was a bit of a live wire (the style guide says that “perky” may no longer be applied to diminutive sopranos). Bags of confidence, stage presence and rather good high notes. She made a pretty good fist of O luce di quest’anima from Linda de Chamonix and shone in the trio Tous les trois réunis from La fille du regiment which got a most enjoyable treatment from a very bouncy Magali as Marie, Pasquale as Tonio, sounding much more at home with this rapid fire comic number, and Iain, who really needs to put on some weight if he’s going to sing Sulpice.
The unannounced ensemble number was the Barcarolle from tales of Hoffman. Magali and Alex sounded really lovely together in this and the backing group was pretty decent. Jennifer Szeto and Hyejin Kwon were the highly capable accompanists.
Photo credits: Chris Hutcheson.