Dallas Opera House Features Popular Hits at Winspear Opera, With Breathtaking Singers
Opera lovers rejoice.
The Dallas Opera has brought together a host of international singers for an assortment of operatic selections from the Baroque to the Modern period. There’s something for everyone in the two-hour program, which opened Friday night at the Winspear Opera House. Masks are mandatory and socially distanced head offices are in effect.
Beginning in February 2022, the Dallas Opera House will stage full productions for the first time in over two years. In the meantime, he offers live concerts with a small number of singers on stage.
For my money, two singers in Friday’s performance stood out above the rest: soprano Ewa Płonka and tenor Gregory Kunde. Appearing in excerpts from Verdi’s operas, Płonka demonstrated smooth and effortless vocal production throughout his range, took effective liberties with the tempo, and displayed complete mastery of virtuoso soaring.
Kunde handled several difficult missions with aplomb. His tenor was muscular and powerful when needed, but could also be delicate and thoughtful.
And he turned out to be a convincing actor. In “Go for it!” by Benjamin Britten Peter Grimes, he evoked the paranoia of the main character, pacing the stage and barking orders.
In the aria “Der Hölle Rache” by the Queen of the Night, after Mozart Magic flute, soprano Kathryn Lewek occasionally hung around high and swift passages, and her heights were not always accurate. With Lewek, soprano Lauren Snouffer performed a performance of Letter Duet by The Marriage of Figaro, also from Mozart, who was slowed down by a too slow tempo.
The soprano Maria Agresta impressed in the soft and tender passages of “La mamma morta”, by Umberto Giordano Andréa Chenier. Yet her role called for a greater sense of ecstasy.
With his evenly-pitched countertenor, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen explored vivid colors and emotions in an air by Handel Agrippina. Oboist Gina Ford’s contributions blend elegantly with Cohen’s lines.
Armed with a strong baritone, Gabriele Viviani offered an ardent reading of Verdi’s “Pietà, rispetto, amore” Macbeth. Bass-baritone Mark S. Doss told a menacing account of Arrigo Boito’s “Ecco il mondo” by the devil Mefistofele. In “Non più andrai” by Mozart Figaro, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel appealed to the proper martial spirit, though his approach was somewhat one-dimensional.
Led by music director Emmanuel Villaume, the Dallas Opera Orchestra offered elegant and energetic playing, but sometimes overpowered the vocals. There were also occasional coordination problems between the orchestra and the singers. Mitch Maxwell’s cello solos were particularly eloquent.
Director Paul Curran and lighting designer Driscoll Otto made good use of simple sets. Images projected on large descending panels or in the back of the stage helped to distinguish the different rooms and underlined the psychological states of the characters. The scene changes were remarkably effective.
Resumption at 2 p.m. on October 24 and 7:30 p.m. on October 30 at Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St., Dallas. 214-443-1000, dallasopera.org. The video recording will be available on thedallasopera.tv in mid-November. Monthly subscription $ 4.99.