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Review: Angela Meade holds her own in starry company at annual gala
NEW YORK (AP) ' As gala concerts go, this one had enough star power for a whole galaxy.
With such guests on hand as tenor Jonas Kaufmann, bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and powerhouse mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe and Dolora Zajick, the excitement level was up several notches Sunday night for this year's benefit for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.
It helped that the 2011 honoree (and $30,000 prize winner), soprano Angela Meade, is already an accomplished artist who can hold her own in such high-powered company.
Meade's opening number, an aria from Verdi's "Attila," showed off her large voice, resplendent high notes and technical agility. Later, joined by Zajick and tenor Frank Porretta, she was equally impressive in the Act 1 finale to Bellini's "Norma." She returned once more at the end (sheet music in hand) as Alice Ford in the rollicking ensemble that concludes Verdi's "Falstaff."
Terfel, always a marvelous showman in addition to being a great singer, threatened to steal the evening early on with his comedic turn as the lovable huckster Doctor Dulcamara in Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore." Pulling out bottles of fake elixir from every conceivable pocket as he rattled off its praises, Terfel offered them to members of the audience and finally took a long swig from one himself.
It was a special treat to hear him display his lighter side just one day after singing the strenuous role of the Wanderer in Wagner's "Siegfried" at the Metropolitan Opera.
Kaufmann followed with an impassioned account of Turridu's farewell to his mother from Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana." Later, the two men joined for a rousing Friendship Duet from Verdi's "Don Carlo" and each returned once more ' Kaufmann for the final scene from Bizet's "Carmen" with mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili, and Terfel for the Falstaff finale.
Blythe treated the audience to the aria "Connais-tu le pays" from Thomas' "Mignon," lavishing her prodigious, shining voice on the wistful melody.
It was a mistake, after that virtuoso display, to have Zajick follow immediately with a number for soloist and chorus from Tchaikovsky's "The Maid of Orleans." There was just no way it could match the impact of what had preceded.
But Zajick came into her own as the betrayed Santuzza in a searing duet from "Cavalleria Rusticana." Joined by the terrific young tenor Yonghoon Lee, she captured every nuance of the character's anguish, pleading and rage.
Lee also made a strong impression with his bright voice and potent high notes in the aria "O Souverain" from Massenet's "Le Cid."
Baritone Zeljko Lucic contributed a stirring rendition of "Eri tu" from Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera," and soprano Maria Guleghina gave a restrained and moving performance of "Vissi d'arte" from Puccini's "Tosca."
The concert at Avery Fisher Hall was conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, who opened by leading members of the Met orchestra in a rousing "Bacchanale" from Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila." The New York Chorale Society joined in several numbers.
The gala and a dinner that followed raises money for the Tucker foundation, which is dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the great tenor and supporting young American singers.