The ICO's third program in its Masterworks series, with new music director Matthew Kraemer on the podium, was given over to
opera -- more specifically to operatic highlights from the standard repertoire,
featuring four young vocalists singing solo arias with one duet, and the Indianapolis
Opera Chorus in four selections. Though these excerpts were scattered
among the soloists and chorus before and after intermission, let's hone in on
the soloists one at a time -- after the ICO launched the program with the Oberon Overture by Carl Maria von Weber.
First we look at soprano Sydney Mancasola, a 2013
Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition winner. She first sang "Je veux vivre" from
Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. After intermission Mancasola returned for "Caro
nome" from Verdi's Rigoletto. In both she
exhibited excellent vocal control, her (many) high notes filled with sheen, as
well as strongly projecting.
Baritone Reginald Smith Jr., a 2015 Metropolitan Opera NCA
winner, was heard first in "Hai gia vinta la causa" from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Later we heard him join the chorus in
the thrice familiar Toreador Song from Bizet's Carmen. He
delivered in both an excellent vocalism, but he slightly lacked in richness-of-timbre.
Mezzo Margaret Mezzacappa, yet another MONCA winner from
2012, first sang "Cruda sorte" from L'Italiana
in Algeri by Rossini. Later she was heard in "Stride la vampa" from Verdi's Il Trovatore. In each, Mezzacappa exhibited a very
wide vibrato such that she was straying well into adjacent pitches, rendering
it difficult to ascertain which pitch she actually meant to sound. Her loud projection
made this pitch anomaly all the more irritating.
Tenor Yi Li, a 2014 MONCA winner, first sang "Che gelida
manina" from Puccini's La Bohème. He followed in the second half with "Pourquoi
me reveille" from Massenet's Werther. Li displayed the
best, most even projection and vocal
control of the four singers. Plus he made the best duet paring with Mancasola in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet Balcony Scene ("O nuit
The choristers were featured without the soloists in the world
famous Anvil Chorus from Trovatore and in the Waltz Scene from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. These 32 singers gave a splendid account of
themselves in both. Their employment in an unannounced encore
-- the quartet from Act 4 of Rigoletto with
all four soloists joining in -- provided a nice cap for the evening. Jan. 30