Audience thrills to opera at its best in an informal setting

Twanuk Seo as Tonio and Kate Kostopoulus as Nedda from "Pagliacci."

The highs and lows of love and romance, as defined in ageless music, were served up in an extraordinary style by six talented voices to a large, receptive audience at Westlake Porter Public Library on April 1. The FYI: Opera program, narrated by David Bamberger, artistic director of the Cleveland Institute of Music, featured selections from CIM’s fully costumed spring production, "Opera Scenes."

The program opened with a scene from the "Marriage of Figaro." Soprano Jessica Hollick as Susanna and Alejandra Martinez, contralto, as Marcellina, rivals for Figaro, did justice to Mozart’s music and convincingly mirrored the feline behavior of two females fighting over a man.

When Twanuk Seo took the stage as Tonio from Leoncavallo’s "Pagliacci," his deep, rich baritone voice visibly astonished the audience. The beauty of his singing and that of soprano Kate Kostopoulus as Nedda was enhanced by their expressive portrayal of the characters’ emotions.

The aria of Micaela, the peasant girl in love with Don José, from the third act of Bizet’s "Carmen," was splendidly sung by Martinez.

The program of vocal delights concluded with tenor David Fair movingly portraying the tortured heart of Chevalier des Grieux from Massenet’s "Manon." The tormented des Grieux again falls under the spell of the beauty of Manon, perfectly sung by soprano Rachel Kunce.

The expert piano accompaniment of CIM music director John Simmons was a key element in the outstanding performances of these gifted singers.  The availability of these exceptional programs, offered free to the public, is made possible by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 10:04 AM, 04.15.2014