Middle: Rigden and Kramer acting it up as Rosina and Figaro; Upchurch at the piano.
Bottom: COC Ensemble - OdeM Atelier lyrique Joint Concert (l. to r. Aaron Ferguson, Pierre Rancourt, Neil Craighead, Adrian Kramer, Chantale Nurse, Suzanne Rigden, Wallis Giunta, Jacqueline Woodley)
Photo: Chris Hutcheson
COC Vocal Series
Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
12 pm, April 7, 2011
Liz Upchurch, piano
'Tornami a vagheggiar" from Alcina - Suzanne Rigden, sop.
"Un'aura amorosa" from Cosi - Aaron Ferguson, ten.
"Il est doux, il est bon" from Herodiade - Chantale Nurse, sop.
"Come un'ape nei giorni d'aprile" from La cenerentola - Pierre Rancourt, bar.
"Ah! Perdona al primo affetto" from La clemenza di Tito - Rigden & Wallis Giunta, mezz.
"Tickling a trout, poaching a Hare" from Albert Herring - Adrian Kramer, bar. & Ferguson
Scenes from Cosi - "La mia Dorabella", "Ah, guarda sorella", "Soave sia il vento" - Nurse, Giunta, Ferguson, Rancourt, & Neil Craighead, b-bar.
"La ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni - Rancourt & Woodley
"Dunque io son" from Il barbiere di Siviglia - Rigden & Kramer
"Questo e il fin" from Don Giovanni - Tutti
We Torontonians are familiar with our marvelous young singers at the COC Ensemble Studio, but we don't get a chance to hear their counterparts at the Opera de Montreal. Thanks to this new initiative - well, new as of last year - opera lovers now have an opportunity of hearing the voices of the future in Quebec. The joint concert yesterday, labeled Collaborations, had four singers from each program. They all have young, fresh, promising voices and youthful and attractive appearances, just the right combination for the rigorous demands of an operatic career. To be sure, these artists are in various stages of development, some are works in progress in need of seasoning and polish, while others are definitely ready for prime time.
There was much to enjoy in the concert. We in Toronto are of course familiar with our COC singers. Wallis Giunta is leaving for the Lindemann Young Artists Program at the Met. Together with the Adler Program in San Francisco, these two programs are the most prestigious in the U.S. Her contributions in this concert show why she is earmarked for a significant career - musicality, firm grounding, gleaming tone of good volume and attractive stage presence. Her duet with Suzanne Rigden from La clemenza di Tito was nicely sung, their voices blended beautifully. The trio from Act One Cosi was also enjoyable - both Giunta and Nurse were in the RCM production two years ago so they sang the piece with experience and assurance. Bass-baritone Neil Craighead continues to improve and he was a mellifluous-sounding Don Alfonso in the Trio. A highlight of the concert was the excellent Sid of Adrian Kramer and Albert of Aaron Ferguson in the deliciously funny scene from Albert Herring. I had the pleasure of seeing Canadian baritone Josh Hopkins as a wonderful Sid in Santa Fe Opera last summer. Kramer reminds me of Hopkins - firm, manly voice, droll acting and good comedic instincts. Ferguson's light tenor with its slender timbre is ideal in acting parts like Albert, and he acquitted himself very well. His voice is at its best in mezza voce which he showed off in Ferrando's aria. Suzanne Rigden has a bright, clear high soprano, which she used to advantage, adding extra appoggiaturas in Morgana's aria from Alcina, just a little short on accuracy in the runs. Chantale Nurse sings with rich tone and an interesting fast vibrato, despite occasional support and pitch issues in her middle voice in "Il est doux, il est bon" - a promising singer to watch. Pierre Rancourt and Jacqueline Woodley contributed a charming "La ci darem la mano", with the soprano a sparkling Zerlina. The singers were well applauded by a very appreciative audience.