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Rossini at Danny Kaye
- by Charles Handelman
What a truly exhilarating evening at the Danny Kaye Playhouse last evening, as Regina Resnik presented a group of superb young artists in an all-Rossini program. It was the "52nd" (Leap Year) birthday of Rossini (technically no.50 as we were informed). I sat there in awe of the extremely high level of the vocalism of the performers, most of them young Met artists who are beginning their careers.

Regina Resnik as Carmen
(Handelman collection)

Those of you who are aware of the remarkable reputation of.Mme.Resnik as master teacher, among so many other successful endeavors, will not be surprised at her charm, her knowledge, her ability to captivate an audience, and of course that speaking voice which I have always remarked sounds like she is singing "Mon coeur" from Samson and Delilah, so mellifluous in its quality. She introduced the various segments of the program, offering insights into the life and times of Rossini, touching on his relationship with other famous composers, and describing the significance of the various selections.
These artists were performing these selections for the very first time in their lives, although their fine musicality and technical ability would never betray this fact; Regina also staged this evening as a kind of "party," with the artists joining in the Tarantella and a "Happy Birthday" salute at the finale.

The level of performances was so high I would have difficulty singling out any one or two of these young people. I will offer a brief description below, hoping that you will keep a close watch on them, as I have no doubt as to their future success.

The sopranos Danielle de Niese and Sandra Lopez, first heard in songs from the "Serate Musicali," possess truly rich and warm lirico-spinto qualities, with lush middle voices, and bright,secure, and brilliant highs. Ms.Lopez was then heard in the "Una voce poco fa," learned in only five days, and sounding like she had performed the role all her young life!

I was floored by the young Polish baritone, Mariusz Kwiecien, whose "Largo al factotum" was so very polished, full of life and detail of characterization, and sung with beauty of tone. He interpolated an adorable high falsetto note and trilled on it so adorably, halping to bring even more spunk to this piece.His voice is secure and rich,and I expect great things from him in the near future.

In the selections from the Stabat Mater, the voice of bass-baritone Alfred Walker in the "Pro Peccatis," caused me to ask him when his "next Mefistofele" would take place. He smiled and realized that it was too early, but let me tell you that he has one of the richest, most beautiful voices I have heard and like Mr. Kwiecien, we can expect a bight future for this young gentleman.

When tenor Eric Cutler began the extremely high-lying "Cujus Animam" (shades of Jussi) one heard a bright,very high-placed, clear tenor tone, and he sailed up to the C sharp with ease and brilliance. I could not help asking him when "his next Puritani" would be, and he did admit I was not the first to ask this question.

The tall, rich-voiced, Jossie Perez joined with Ms.Lopez in the "Quis est homo" duet, one of great beauty. The voices blended so beautifully, and they received warm applause from the audience, as did all of the artists. Ms.Perez is another potential star to look out for, as her voice is so beautiful and lush.

The last time I heard the famous "Inflammatus' live was in 1955, as sung by Renata Tebaldi. Well, Mme.Alexandra Deshorties, looking very much the diva, with secure and brilliant tones and wonderful high C's made me happy to have heard this work a second time. I see a possible Lady Macbeth in her future, owing to the cutting quality of her voice and the over-all delivery. Like the other ladies, she was so involved, only in her case in a more "imperious" way, owing to the seriousness of the piece. She is another artist to be recognized for a wonderful future career.

The other singers appeared in ensembles only, but one could recognize that in baritone Mark Uhlemann there was a beautiful voice and great sense of the line, as well as finding Met tenor Charles Castronovo most pleasing of tone, and others were Marjorie Elinor Dix and Andrea Trebnik who sang well also,although in only limited material.

To quote the program notes," Regina Resnik brings her unparalleled experience and knowledge of operatic tradition to bear in mentoring and guiding these young singers whose role it is to inherit and carry on the legacy of great singing." Judging from what I heard last evening, these young people will surely carry on this tradition and I wish them well.
© Charles Handelman 2000
This article was also posted on Opera-L,, Opera Oasis (AOL), and Met Standing Room.

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