Verdi’s Gem Gets Solid But Rare NYC Performance
...From his first entrance, it was obvious that (Errin) Brooks’ Alvaro was all passion as his voice boomed fully with all the ardor as Alvaro declared his love for his Leonora. Even in the slower section of the first duet with Leonora, Brooks’ had no qualms in letting out his full voice.
...Kelly Griffin possesses a thick creamy voice that easily projected over any orchestra...there were moments of pathos in her singing particularly the second aria “Madre, Pietosa Vergine.” Griffin repeated the words “Pieta” with emphatic grief. The aria built in momentum with her sound’s growing volume ratcheting up the intensity. It was the highlight of her evening.
...The orchestra, directed by Keith Chambers, had many great moments including the overture, which had a buoyant tempo. Chambers gave the small chamber orchestra the power needed for each duet, giving the music the rhythmic accuracy that Verdi requires.
...In its third outing, the New Amsterdam Opera shows promise. Its emphasis on top singers came to fruition on this evening allowing audiences to hear a solid “Forza.”
-- Francisco Salazar, OperaWire
The power of fête
...The event was more enjoyable than anyone would have hoped for, several genuine Verdi voices among the cast, and the tragic part (aside from the fate of Leonora and Alvaro) is that only one performance was given. Given time to alert our Verdi-loving friends, a second would have been packed. It was Forza! It was a good Forza! That’s almost as rare as a good Gioconda.
...The most striking singer in a fine cast was tenor Errin Duane Brooks, a George London Prize-winner, whose stentorian declamation, easily produced and flawlessly in tune, rang through the room. His diction, too, was clarity itself.
...his Leonora, Kelly Griffin, has sung Lady Macbeth hereabouts...she has a warm, powerful, clearly Verdian sound with a beautiful mid range...she was in full, gratifying, command by the time “Vergine degl’ angeli” rolled around, with great, serene pear-shaped phrases. (A Leonora di Vargas is also an Aida, and she sings that role too.)
...Stephen Gaertner, whose dark, manly baritone thrives on such roles as Don Carlo, sang “Son Pereda, di ricco e d’onore” robustly but really hit stride in his duets with Alvaro and the double aria between those duets, the proper fiendish gleam arising in his earthy clash with Mr. Brooks’s metallic tenor. Both singers built tense excitement in this scene, and their rage had an inspiring fire.
...Keith Chambers, the company’s director, is also its conductor...the intensity of the overture proved contagious and the ensembles (the concertato at Hornachuelos, at the abbey, in the soldiers’ camp) held together nicely. His choices of snips to make to keep the running time below four hours escaped the vigilance of all but the pedantic; the result flowed most impressively. His taste in scores to revive and singers to perform them is exceptional. With the loss of OONY, he fills a niche. I hope word spreads of his success and that other such occasions result.
-- John Yohalem, Parterre.com