March 2- 8, 2006
Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya rightly switched the order of works in the printed program, so that Igor Stravinsky's short opera The Nightingale (1908-14) preceded nine selections from Sergei Prokofiev's two suites from the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1938). This makes sense not only chronologically but in terms of listener excitementthere's a lot to enjoy in the fabulously eclectic opera's scoring, but the ballet score is the kind of universally appealing, melodically rich work that can convert kids in one hearing to giving classical music a try. Harth-Bedoya and his forces did very well both by Prokofiev's lyricism and the dazzle, nowhere more so than in a gripping account of "The Death of Tybalt" (which they encored). My more mixed reaction to The Nightingale started with shocked realization that the (generally capable) soloists were going to sing this Russian opera in French. That was traditional once upon a time; these days, young opera singers will be expected to sing Tchaikovsky and Musorgsky works in the original. The Academy of Vocal Arts understands this, why not Curtis? (That said, Curtis understands that young singers today need seasoning in Handel opera; why not AVA?) Nor was the cast's sung French especially keenly etched. Rinnat Moriah showed coloratura promise and stunning high, soft attacks in the title part but might have been singing in Urdu. The best projection came from incisive bass DeAndre Simmons (The Chamberlain), though Dominic Armstrong's still-developing tenor lent the high-lying Fisherman tonal impact. Baritone Jonathan Beyer (The Emperor) and mezzo Elif Ezgi Kutlu (Death) both offered telling contributions.
LE ROSSIGNOL Feb. 21, Curtis Symphony Orchestra with soloists from the Curtis Opera Theatre, Kimmel Center