Ryan Opera Sounds Off at Other Grant Park Festival
August 09, 2010
A concert marked by good if not spectacular singing confirmed positive qualities one has noted previously in Ryan Center veterans.
The Grant Park Music Festival over the weekend at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance answered the mighty roar of Lollapalooza just across the way with a songfest of its own. Call it Lyric-palooza.
The annual vocal showcase involving members of Lyric Opera's training wing, the Ryan Opera Center, heard Saturday night, may not have launched any instant breakout stars the way previous installments have done. But the program of Mozart and Rossini opera finales gave the young apprentices experience singing with the Grant Park Orchestra under Carlos Kalmar, taking on roles they may well perform in full-scale productions once their apprenticeships are over.
A concert marked by good if not spectacular singing confirmed positive qualities one has noted previously in Ryan Center veterans. In particular, third-year mezzo Katherine Lerner and second-year baritone Paul La Rosa sounded much improved technically over their contributions to Lyric's "Rising Stars" concert in April.
The freshmen members — soprano Jennifer Jakob, mezzo Emily Fons, tenor James Kryshak, baritone Paul Scholten and bass-baritone Evan Boyer — revealed varying degrees of promise. Fons and Kryshak appear to have exceptional potential.
Keep your ear on sophomore Rene Barbera, a sweet-voiced lyric tenor, who sang winningly as Don Ramiro in the Act I finale of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" and as Don Ottavio in the final scene of Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Also one to watch is plush-sounding soprano Amanda Majeski, who partnered with Barbera in their portion of the Mozart scene and showed how much she has gained from her stage experience as the Countess Almaviva in "Marriage of Figaro" productions at Lyric and in St. Louis.
Third-year bass-baritones Sam Handley and Craig Irvin have worked on opening up their voices, though both will have to dig deeper into text and character if they wish to go anywhere in this repertory. La Rosa made a suave Don Giovanni, a sturdy Almaviva and a dandy Dandini. Lerner sang a nimble, vivacious Isabella in a portion of Rossini's "L'Italiana in Algeri."
I look forward to hearing more from all 11 singers as they take comprimario parts in Lyric's mainstage season as part of their Ryan Center training.
John von Rhein, Tribune