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Recital
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...
Symphony
BROWNE, PAREMSKI HEAD STELLAR CAST AT SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, February 09, 2020
The Sunday, Feb. 9, performance by the Santa Rosa Symphony offered a healthy dose of 21st century music firmly bound to the 19th. Matt Browne’s first symphony, “The Course of Empire”—based on a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole, who founded the Hudson River School of American painting in the ...
Symphony
FRENCH ORCHESTRAL MUSIC A FIRST FOR THE SO CO PHILHARMONIC
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 02, 2020
Over many years the Sonoma County Philharmonic has played little French music, but perhaps this oversight was corrected Feb. 2 in a splendid all-Gallic program Feb. 1 and 2 in the Jackson Theater. Classical Sonoma reviewed the Sunday afternoon concert. In his eighth conducting season with the So C...
Symphony
POLISH MUSICAL WORLDS GLOW BRIGHT IN NFM WROCLAW WEILL PERFORMANCE
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, February 01, 2020
The NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, gave a concert of enormous energy and emotional impact on Feb.1 to a small audience in Weill Hall. This orchestra has been a major cultural force in Poland since 1949, playing under many renowned conductors and has been committed to pr...
Opera
EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT
by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 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...
STRING QUINTETS, RARE AND FAMILIAR, IN SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, January 26, 2020
One hundred attendees in Schroeder Hall were treated Jan. 26 to a pair of stirring two-cello string quintets: Schubert’s much beloved masterpiece Quintet in C (D. 956), and Catoire’s Quintet in C minor (Op. 16), the latter mostly a forgotten work written in 1909. The performers were violinist Victo...
Chamber
MOSTLY MOZART WITH A LITTLE BEETHOVEN AND SOR IN NAPA
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Sharing the stage with a local diva is a tough task for even seasoned musicians, but Napa College faculty soprano Christina Howell stole the show Jan. 26 when the Napa Valley Music Associates presented an eclectic program of mostly Mozart music. Somehow compositions of Sor and Beethoven joined the m...
Chamber
CHALLENGING WORKS IN GOULD TRIO'S MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 26, 2020
The Gould Piano Trio, founded 28 years ago by violinist Lucy Gould, has been one of the UK’s most prestigious ensembles. Its January 26 performance in Mill Valley Chamber Music Society’s series demonstrated how richly they deserve that reputation. The concert, held at the Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Chu...
Chamber
LOCAL MUSICIANS SHINE IN MTAC BENEFIT CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 25, 2020
After a fire-related postponement of four months, the Sonoma County Chapter of the Music Teachers Association of California Jan. 25 gave their annual scholarship benefit in a charming Sebastopol home. Showcasing local musicians in an intimate setting with two pianos, the first half highlights inclu...
Symphony
MOZART MASTERWORK HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Excitement was palpable in the Marin Civic Center Auditorium Jan. 25 as the Marin Symphony in splendid full force took the stage for a richly textured Masterworks II program. Prevented from giving its first Masterworks offering by the wildfire-caused blackouts last October, the orchestra returned wi...
OPERA REVIEW
Vallejo Community Arts Foundation / Saturday, February 01, 2020
Concert Orchestra, Thomas Conlin,conductor. Alex Boyer, Pene Pati and Christopher Olgesby, tenor

Tenor Pene Pati

EXTRAVAGANT ARIAS IN NEXT GENERATION TENORS GALA VALLEJO CONCERT

by Mark Kratz
Saturday, February 01, 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!