Baltmore Concert Opera serves up 'Lucia' complete with armonica
On Sunday afternoon in the elegant ballroom at the Engineers Club, many of the singers sounded like they were working their way into the roles, rather than having lived in them. Recitative passages suffered especially from a bland delivery that glossed over the vividness of the Italian language.
That said, the performance caught fire as it went along, and, even pared down to orchestra-less concert size, the brilliance of "Lucia" could be appreciated.
In the title role, Sharon Cheng sounded ...
That mad scene featured the remarkable Dennis James on the armonica, an invention of Benjamin Franklin's that could not be more fitting for depiction of Lucia's unraveling mental state. Coordination between singer and armonica was not entirely smooth, but the interplay provided considerable aural fascination.
William Davenport brought a wonderfully ringing tone and great ardor to the role of Edgardo. I hope the tenor can develop softer dynamics, which would have added much to his otherwise exceptional work here. I thought Davenport sounded like a tenor with a future the first time I heard him; I still do.
Nicholas Pallesen proved impressive as Enrico, with a dark, sizable voice and consistently potent phrasing. Matthew Curran, as Raimondo, summoned a rich, smooth sound and shaped the music with stylish power.
Conductor Ronald Gretz took sensible tempos and allowed for some effective rubato. The Sextet was too rigidly paced for my taste, though; the melodic peaks could have used more breadth. Jim Harp provided solid support at the piano.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAMDAVENPORT.NET