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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...
Opera
PURCELL'S DIDO IN YOUTHFUL SSU OPERA
by Abby Wasserman
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
A doomed royal love affair, the theme of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was brought to lovely life at Sonoma State University Dec. 5 in the school’s Schroeder Hall. Conducted by faculty member Zachary Gordin, who also played continuo, the performance was only the second opera production presented by the...
Opera
SPARKLING CIMAROSA OPERA HIGHLIGHTS MENDOCINO MUSIC FESTIVAL
by Kathryn Stewart
Friday, July 13, 2018
The Classical music era was a time of extraordinary innovation. Dominated by composers from the German-speaking countries, the period witnessed the handiwork of masterpieces by two classical giants, Haydn and Mozart. Both composers put forth a tremendous catalog of masterful works and perhaps to our...
Opera
DONIZETTI'S DON PASQUALE HAS LYRICAL CHARM IN MENDOCINO FESTIVAL PRODUCTION
by Elly Lichenstein
Friday, July 14, 2017
Mendocino Music Festival's production of Donizetti's beloved opera buffa Don Pasquale - a one-night affair July 15 that was presented in an enormous tent on a greensward overlooking the Pacific Ocean - delighted an audience of more than 600 while doing some real justice to this frothy gem of commedi...
Opera
ONE-NIGHT STAND AT MMF'S ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 15, 2016
Mozart’s Opera “Abduction from the Seraglio” has a long reputation as being tough for singers, and it was with some trepidation that I entered the Mendocino Music Festival’s massive white tent July 15 to hear and see the new production from the 30th season. Not to Worry. Conducted by Festival Arti...
Opera
FROTHY FROLICKING AT CINNABAR'S MAGICAL FLUTE
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, June 11, 2016
Though having just two acts, Mozart’s Opera “The Magic Flute” encompasses a jumbled fairy tale plot with complicated staging and myriad performers in demanding vocal roles. Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater took up the arduous challenge of this 1791 work, among Mozart’s last, in a series of performances ...
Opera
OPERA BUFFA HI JINX IN ROSSINI'S BARBER AT MENDO FESTIVAL
by Ken Bullock
Friday, July 17, 2015
During his July 17 lecture before the sole Mendocino Music Festival performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, stage director Eugene Brancoveanu spoke of Commedia Dell’Arte. Mr. Brancoveanu, who sang the baritone title role of Figaro, alluded to the stylized clowning that is sometimes p...
Opera
SIR JOHN'S VISUAL FEAST IN CINNABAR THEATER FALSTAFF PRODUCTION
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Verdi’s operas tend to have a visceral impact on listeners, the connection forged by emphasizing starkly realistic human emotions and glorious tunes for singers and richly hued orchestra writing. But not in his last opera written in 1893: Falstaff. In only the Italian master's second comedy, Fals...
Opera
A PROVOCATIVE DON GIOVANNI AT MENDOCINO FESTIVAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, July 18, 2014
At each Mendocino Music Festival a key evening is given over to a staged opera in the big tent, and last year Rossini’s frothy “Il Signor Bruschino” was an audience hit but hardly comprehensive operatic fare. Times change. Mozart’s weighty opera Don Giovanni was given a propulsive but often confus...
Opera
HILARIOUS "MARRIAGE OF FIGARO" AT CINNABAR
by Nicki Bell
Friday, May 30, 2014
The Cinnabar Theater mounted a delightful, madcap, rambunctious, completely charming, extremely funny, very classy production of Mozartʼs opera "The Marriage of Figaro" from May 30 to June 15. With the feel of a 1920s Upstairs/Downstairs farce, it was sung in English and easily understood. Tho...
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!