Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Night in Brooklyn Bridge Park: The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital with Michael Fabiano, Susanna Phillips and Christopher Magiera

The Metropolitan Opera's Michael Fabiano, Susanna Phillips and Christopher Magiera were sparkling tonight before a large crowd on the very wet lush lawns of Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park for the second of the Met's Summer Recital Series in the parks.

We got seats fairly close up but probably should have brought thicker coverings to put on the grass, since it was soaked. Whatever. It was worth it. It was even worth it to hear the great Marty Markowitz again exclaim that the Republic of Brooklyn was where you could hear more great music (he mentioned the Williamsburg Waterfront, Prospect Park and his own shows in Asser Levy/Seaside Park and Wingate Field).

State Senator Daniel Squadron and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy executive director Nancy Webster also spoke briefly, as did the director of the summer recital series, who told us that in the future someone would tell us about seeing this great performance by a star sing at the Met and that we could brag that we heard them first way back in 2010 at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Rising American soprano Susanna Phillips made her Met debut in the 2008-09 season as Musetta in La Bohème and returned as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, a role she reprises in the coming season. A graduate of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Phillips has won four of the world's leading vocal competitions: the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the MacAllister Awards, the George London Foundation, and Plácido Domingo's Operalia. In April, Phillips was named the fifth recipient of the prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award.

Baritone Christopher Magiera (in shirtsleeves below - in the trio's wonderful performance from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore ("Una furtiva lagrima") - is a 2008 finalist of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions. A former Young Artist at Munich's Bavarian State Opera and a 2008 member of the Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artists Program, he is also a recipient of the 2009 Sullivan Foundation Grand Prize and was an International finalist in Plácido Domingo's Operalia Competition. This summer, he performs the title role of Eugene Onegin with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis before joining the roster of the Dresden State Opera with the beginning of the 2010-11 season

The really popular young tenor Michael Fabiano made his Met debut last season as Raffaele in Stiffelio. A winner of the 2007 National Council Auditions, this exciting young tenor recently made his London debut at English National Opera as the Duke in Rigoletto. He also sang Alfredo in La Traviata for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore with the Fort Worth Opera. In 2008, Fabiano made his debut at La Scala as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. His upcoming engagements include roles at the Paris Opera, Dresden State Opera, and the Limoges Opera.

We weren't able to get a program, and we're pretty much ignoramuses when it comes to opera, as we are in just about every musical, dance, cinematic, theatrical and visual art event we go to; we're just amateur enthusiasts. Like Ike, we know what we like - for example, Michael Fabiano's passionate “La donne è mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto or Susanna Phillips's rendition of “Non mi dir” from Don Giovanni.

Jonathan Kelly, the accompianist, did a yeoman's job. He's served as an official accompanist for the San Francisco Opera Center, Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, and Chicago Opera Theatre. Kelly has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Kirk in the Hills, the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, and for the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Zankel Hall.

While we do miss the Met's old park series going back to the 1970s when we used to see whole operas produced in Marine Park and other sites, the recital series is in some ways easier to digest, especially since the late-summer Lincoln Center outdoor Met HD Festival presents 15 operas in as many nights.

The sound system was pretty good, although it acted up a few times, once really badly during a Michael Fabiano solo (he reacted coolly and laughed it off), but outdoor amplification of opera is never like being in the hall. On the other hand, you can't look out at the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the Statue of Liberty and the vistas of New York Harbor when you're sitting indoors.

We'll leave it to people who know what they're talking about to discuss the individual performances tonight. All around us were some people like us and others who were clearly opera experts. We just know we had a great time hearing great artists sing in a beautiful setting, and for that we're really grateful.

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