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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
OPERA REVIEW

Tenor Pene Pati

EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT

by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 1, 2020

“Beautiful, strange, and unnatural…” said orchestra conductor Thomas Conlin when speaking of the tenor voice. One of the coveted voice types of the opera world, the tenor voice is known for it’s piercing tones and soaring, unnatural high notes. The iconic image of the Pagliacci clown (in the famed Caruso photograph) is known worldwide as an image representing the magic of opera.

The February 1st “Three Tenors! - The Next Generation” recital at the Vallejo’s Empress Theatre contained all the power, passion and artistry you would expect to see on the stages of the world’s premiere opera houses.
The Empress reminds one of the classic European opera house, and with seating for 435 this quaint, lovely theater was the perfect venue for an orchestra accompanied operatic recital. It was a sold out performance with a variety of concert goers from young to old. The program consisted of all Italian opera with the first half devoted completely to music of Puccini and Verdi. Each of the three tenors performed four arias and the solo orchestra was featured in two works.

The evening began with the overture from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. The melodic theme was simply gorgeous with sumptuous swells and clean crisp attacks and cutoffs. The piece ended with a powerhouse brass section. Later in the first half, the orchestra performed the Intermezzo from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. The performance highlighted string section solos, and Mr. Conlin crafted balanced phrases and a fine ensemble. Generally, one can hear certain string instruments jutting out from the sonic texture, but these players did an outstanding job of listening to one another and created an emotional, well balanced Intermezzo from the end of Act II of the 1893 opera.

Alex Boyer’s four selections for the evening, in performance order, were ”Celeste Aïda” from Verdi’s Aïda, “Di quella pira” from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, “Che gelida manina” from Puccini’s La Bohème, and “Vesti la giubba” from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. These four arias are iconic in the tenor operatic repertoire and are not for the faint of heart tenor! Mr. Boyer presented clean and sweeping vocal lines up and over the passaggio in “Celeste Aida” and ended with a beautiful and graceful build up to the B-flat on the final “vicino al sol.” “Di quella pira” is one of those tenor arias where virtuosi have added a plethora of high notes not written in the score to it over generations.

There was some disagreement between the tempi of Mr. Boyer and the orchestra, with Mr. Boyer trying to push the orchestra to go quicker, but his plea went unheard by the conductor. With so many high notes and the slower tempo than he desired, “Di quella pira” began to sound like a bit of a struggle. By the time we reach “Che gelida manina” with its high tessitura and iconic high C on “la Speranza,” Mr. Boyer was sounding a vocally tired. The high notes, though not vocally interrupted, were beginning to sing heavy and stressed, leading to a less than rousing high C. Mr. Boyer did redeem his artistry with his rendition of “Vesti la giubba.” With it’s lower tessitura, Mr. Boyer sounded on point again, and closed with an emotionally rousing performance.

Christopher Oglesby’s arias for the evening included “De’ miei bollenti spiriti” from Verdi’s La Traviata, “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, “Mamma, quell vino” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, and “Una furtiva lagrima” from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’Amore. Mr. Oglesby’s voice shined brightly in the two lighter arias of this set: “De’ miei bollenti spiriti” and “Una furtiva lagrima.” The voice was even from top to bottom and tapped into an athletic agility, specifically in the Traviata. The singer’s “Una furtiva lagrima” was one of the best renditions I have recently heard. He showed mastery of his voice with the nuances and dynamic subtleties. This was demonstrated exquisitely on his ending cadenza. The Puccini and Mascagni were sung with skill and artistry as well, but sometimes the lower range felt over darkened, which affected the brilliance of the higher range. Mr. Oglesby has a rich, smokey tone with a metallic core. It is a unique and lovely tenor voice.

The last tenor of the three tenors was Pene Pati. His selections for the evening were “La donna è mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto, “Recondita armonia” from Puccini’s Tocsca, “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, and “Cielo e mar” from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Though all three tenors have the makings for major operatic careers, Mr. Pati’s singing stood out among the three. He received a standing ovation after each one of his arias, and rightfully so. He was in full command of his voice. His renditions of “Recondita armonia” and “Nessun Dorma” brought on shouts of “Bravo” and even gasping could be heard in the audience. His B natural on “vincero” in “Nessun Dorma” sounded reminiscent of the young Pavarotti. You could feel his resonance ring throughout your body and left many audience members with tears in their eyes. It has been quite a while since I have had such a visceral reaction to a voice. He is an intelligent singer, reserving his voice when he could have born down on it. Keeping his lower range light and forward permitted him to have flawless high note after high note. He had both agility and power, which are two characteristics that tenors struggle to balance. His is a voice that will make a mark on the operatic world!

The evening concluded with a round of solo and group encores including Rossini’s “La Danza” sung by all three, “O sole mio” sung by Mr. Pati, Mr. Oglesby’s “Santa Lucia” that modulated between each verse, and “Torna A Surriento” by Mr. Boyer.

It was one delightful evening of three fantastic young tenors. The Empress Theatre has the right stage for more recitals of this nature and even a full opera, hinted to the audience in remarks by Mr. Conlin. Vive l'opera e il tenore a Vallejo!