The Delaware Valley Opera was back in fine form with their second concert of the summer. “Liars! Lovers! Libertines! Or A Feast of Opera Scenes” was packed with powerhouse vocals and …
The Delaware Valley Opera was back in fine form with their second concert of the summer. “Liars! Lovers! Libertines! Or A Feast of Opera Scenes” was packed with powerhouse vocals and offered a wonderful introduction to opera for those who aren’t familiar with it.
The night was steered by Director Carol Castel who guided the audiences through each performance, providing background information, plot points and translations of famous arias, duets and more.
The wonderful thing about opera that I’ve noticed as a relative newcomer is that you don’t need to understand the lyrics of the songs to feel the different emotions. The performers guide you with their actions, facial expressions, and the aid of charming melodies and harmonies. And I love how recognizable many of the songs are to both young and old ears; proving opera is still very prevalent in our modern lives.
Soprano Kelsey Watts was a force of pure sound. Her voice was beautiful and she made hitting every high note look easy. She shone in every song especially in the duets with Rachel Abrams in Mozart’s “Guarda sorella” and Delibes’ “Dome epais le jasmin”, and her performance of “Summertime” from Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” took my breath away. She played a wonderful Mimi in the selection of songs from Puccini’s “La Boheme”
Tshombe Shelby’s voice was equally powerful, and he wowed with his solo performances of “La donna e mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and “There’s a Boat” from “Porgy & Bess”. His Rodolfo opposite Watt’s Mimi was spectacular, and I loved his performances with Robert Flora.
Robert Flora has a clear and powerful baritone, and he was wonderful in Bizet’s “Au fond du temple saint” and Donizetti’s “Pronto io son!” with Watts. Not only did he have a stunning voice, his performances were always animated and entertaining. Flora, Shelby and Watt’s finale of “la, la, la, la…” from Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” was hilarious and a triumph to end the night.
Rachel Abrams delivered a stunning and comical performance embodying the behavior of a heartbroken teenager with “A scostati” from Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte” and was lovely in “Il core vi dono” with Flora. I loved listening to her harmonize with Watts, and she impressed me with her performance in Verdi’s quartet “Un di, se ben rammentomi”.
Mark Cotton broke my heart with his moving rendition of Verdi’s “Cortigiani”. His voice was so pure and resonant, and his portrayal of Rigoletto was superb. His versatility in the various duets, trios and quartet performances was amazing. He and Flora were fantastic in Donizetti’s “Chei, cheti immantinente” and their impeccable delivery of a very fast, tongue-twisting stretch of Italian deserved a standing ovation.
One final, and very deserving, shout out goes to pianist and music director Jeremy Chan. While opera is made up of powerful and beautiful voices, it is also truly made into art by the musicians providing accompaniment to the singers. I found during some songs I couldn’t help but look over to watch Mr. Chan playing, and he looked like he felt every note and chord he played. Watching Mr. Chan play the piano was like watching a master painter create an artistic masterpiece in front of you.
The DVO again provided an enchanting evening of music and it was wonderful to be a part of it. The DVO will next host the Opera Cowgirls in “Divas! Dolly! Done Me Wrong!” on August 14th and 15th at The Barn at Callicoon Hills. I’m sure it will be another roaring success for the company, and hope those who have a love of opera or country music (or both) get the chance to attend!