Opera York Takes Next Step
The annual gala of Opera York was certainly different in many ways from the last few we attended, the most notable one being the presence of a new Artistic Director. Penelope Cookson is a director, singer/actor and educator and well at home in the world of musical make believe. Thus the concert offered was structured and presented with an educational feel to it.
But I am getting ahead of myself. An evening always starts with arriving, finding your seat/table in the well-appointed hall of the Famée Furlane, cocktails and reviewing the tables with the items up for silent auction. Sometimes there are rare treasures to be had, especially in the art department, since the people coming to these events obviously do not go there to find art, the bidding remains low. Among the favourites are often good wines, and practical items like a mobile phone, cosmetics or such.
Different this year was an added raffle for a great many gift baskets. Amazing how quickly another thousand dollars are raised for the fun chance to win one of those opulent delights.
Dinner was good, but as usual, the service was too slow. We never did say anything before, but it has not improved, as repeat visitors have agreed with us. Thus the concert is late in starting, and it won’t do sitting through it with dirty plates on the table throughout, and desert arriving that late and coffee even later. A better choice would be to start everything on time, get dinner over with, the plates cleared quickly, and then when coffee and desert are on the table the show can go on, and everyone will be comfortable and relaxed, knowing where to put their elbows. This of course is no reflection on Opera York and the fine program the members produce in all their endeavours, may it be the concerts for seniors or students in English, and as of new, in French.
The concert, as mentioned was in the firm hands of diminutive Penelope Cookson, who "lectured" just a bit too much for such an evening, that should be fun, fun, fun. The educational part can be used in school-concerts, we feel. That is where it will do the most good and fall on fertile young ears.
The program itself was really nice and the singing was also enjoyable. Jackalyn Short, Soprano, is a bit shrill in this intimate setting. Her big voice and demeanour is more suited to big theatres that offer a bit of distance between her and the audience. She sounded great though in the Flower Duet of Lakme by Delibes with Marianne Binding singing Mezzo Soprano.
That night there was no Tenor, to our regret, but we could welcome Andrew Tees, whom we liked so much as the Barber in the recent English version of La Nozze Di Figaro, under the baton of Mark DuBois, who has since left Opera York. This evening he tried and succeeded in bringing warms and fun to a concert that lives and gains momentum from the closeness of performer to audience. The artist has to be able to be personable at a function like this. When his big frame saunters down the aisle the ladies feel that they could touch him, an artist, even though he is not a tenor………the tenor we missed that night so much for balance.
And then there was a young girl by the name of Sarah Parkin, with a Soprano voice as sweet as honey, who sang with astounding ease and clarity. She is only 16 years old and still a student. Her days are spent going to school and rehearsing singing, dancing or playing the piano.
The concert with 11 arias was framed by an ensemble presentation of "The night they invented Champagne" from Gigi, and even Penelope Cookson joined her artists, taking a few well deserved bows together with their very able accompanist Sabatino Vacca.
Needles to say that co-founders Philip Trow and Joan Sax where everywhere in the beginning, middle and the end, welcoming all and introducing the politicians and dignitaries. Without them and their many helpful volunteers this event would not happen, and that is something we do not want to occur. Opera York has an exiting new season planned and we are looking forward to Bizet’s Carmen as a concert, and a full production of Puccini’s La Boheme. Stay tuned for more news from Opera York in the future.
Until next time
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