All-American cast enchants FYI: Opera audience

Soprano Miriam Stoner and Erika Rodden, mezzo-soprano, portray the Letter Scene from Massenet’s "Werther." Photo by Louise Seeholzer

When the essence of great music is delivered by a beautiful voice the level of enjoyment for fortunate listeners cannot be measured. And certainly the singer’s country of origin is irrelevant.

David Bamberger, artistic director of Opera at the Cleveland Institute of Music, who assembled the March 31 FYI: Opera program, originally scheduled an international foursome of CIM voice students from three countries to perform. But health problems forced two singers to withdraw and their able replacements turned the foursome into an All-American cast.

And the near capacity audience gathered at Westlake Porter Public Library thoroughly enjoyed the talented voices that performed the music of Donizetti, Offenbach, Mozart and Massenet. Soprano Rachel Kunce opened the program with a wonderful performance of an aria from Donizetti’s "Daughter of the Regiment." A selection from one of Offenbach’s operettas was sung by mezzo-soprano Erika Rodden with beauty and passion.

As Bamberger narrates the program with his knowledge and humor, he reveals background information on the composers and their works. He noted that Donizetti was not given due credit for the influence his work had on later composers including Gilbert & Sullivan.

Introducing a piece from Mozart’s "Così fan tutte," which he translated as meaning "Women are like that," Bamberger explained the aria is sung by a maid who is enumerating the things all girls should know about wrapping men around their finger. With a sly smile, he added, “I don’t see why they say opera is fiction.” Miriam Stoner convincingly sang and performed the maid’s aria.

Rodden and Stoner combined their voices and talents to beautifully sing the Letter Scene from Massenet’s "Werther." Tenor Kevin Adamik, who sang a selection from Mozart’s "The Clemency of Titus," ended the program partnering with Kunce to give an outstanding performance of a scene from the first act of from Donizetti’s "The Elixir of Love." John Simmons, musical director of CIM’s Scenes program, provided expert piano accompaniment for the singers.

FYI: Opera programs, offered free to the community by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council for 24 years, preview upcoming performances. The March 31 program was an inviting sample of CIM’s April program, which will cover a wide range of “Sensational Scenes from Sensational Operas.” Performances are Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, at 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday matinee, April 19, at 3 p.m. Information and tickets for the production at Kulas Hall on the CIM campus are available at or call 216-791-5000.

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 9:48 AM, 04.07.2015