Collective impresses with comic opera
By Anne Hilton Saturday, August 4 2012
Those who only expected to see Mozart’s The Impresario in NAPA’s Theatre 1 on Saturday July 28 were surprised to find that the first half of the evening’s entertainment was a recital of songs old and new by the Young Artist Collective – who were also the five members of the cast of the opera.
T he recital began with mezzo soprano Diahann White singing “Oh Thou that tellest good tiding to Zion” from Handel’s Messiah, this was followed by Ayrice Wilson singing “Deh Vieni Non Tardar” from Mozart’s opera “The Marriage of Figaro”, and Stephan Hernandez continued the Mozart theme with “Dei Vieni Alla Finestra” from “Don Giovanni”.
Natalia Dopwell came on stage next to sing an aria from Puccini’s “Turandot”, Raguel Gabriel then sang Lalo’s “Vainement Ma Bien Aimee” from “Le Roi D’Ys”, Stephan Hernandez followed with Schubert’s “Der Tod Und Das Madchen”, Raguel Gabriel aired his Russian as he sang Rachmaninoff’s “Zdes Khorosho”.
Next came a leap into the (relatively) modern as Natalia Dopwell sang “Youkali” by Kurt Weill, Diahann White with “Days of Plenty” from Dickstein-Howard’s “Little Women”, Stephan Hernandez gave a rousing rendition of Vaughan Williams’ “The Vagabond” and Ayrice Wilson concluded the first half of the programme by singing “Art is calling me” by Victor Herbert. These young people gave of their best, as one would expect from those winning awards in this year’s Musical Festival.
I make no comment on their performance, however, I feel the audience might have appreciated the arias sung in Italian, French, German and Russian had there been programme notes on the songs, or a brief introduction by Master of Ceremonies Candice Campbell so that those who didn’t know the arias had some idea of the subject of the songs.
The second half of the programme was devoted to “The Impresario” a songspiel of dialogue and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, newly updated, somewhat abridged (if Google is to be believed) and translated by Callie Kimball.
And what a delight was this performance of the comic opera with musical direction by June Nathaniel and stage direction by Dr Helmer Hilwig – not forgetting the tireless piano accompaniment for both the recital and the opera by Enrique Ali.
All five singers gave a very good account of themselves but if one had to single out one performer the honours go to Stephan Hernandez as “Buffo” who amused and entertained by a single lift of an eyebrow, a slouch, a smile even while the other three, or four were singing.
Natalia carried off the rich and ageing diva Mrs Cantwell with aplomb, Ayrice Wilson flung herself into the part of the up-and coming young diva Ms Honeybell with heart and soul, as both fought for star billing with the unfortunate Raguel Gabriel as Maestro Capogrosso, the title character, torn between the two – much to the amusement of Buffo, until Diahann White (mezzo soprano Mrs Borghesa), snatched top billing aided and abetted by Buffo who took over as Impresario of the new opera company.
For the audience clear diction is of prime importance in a comic opera sung in English, the Young Artist Collective did not disappoint, one was able to follow the story in song as well as in the spoken word.
Short though it may be (and indeed, is) “The Impresario” by Mozart in a new updated format, translated by Callie Kimball was a real musical treat, a delight. On behalf of all who attended the two performances we thank the Young Artist Collective, Musical Director June Nathaniel, Stage Director the indefatigable Dr. Helmer Hilwig, and piano accompanist Enrique Ali – as well as the backstage production team – for a most entertaining evening of good music – and acting.