Music Review Philharmonic delivers bel canto and brilliance
Jim Lowe / Staff photo
-Sunday’s Vermont Philharmonic concert introduced soprano Cheyanne Coss, winner of the 2013 Bel Canto Insititute Orchestral Performance Award.
BARRE — The Vermont Philharmonic not only introduced an impressive up-and-coming young soprano at Sunday’s concert at the Barre Opera House, it delivered an unexpectedly brilliant performance of a major symphonic showcase.
Cheyanne Coss, winner of the 2013 Bel Canto Insititute Orchestral Performance Award, sang “Come innocente giovane” from Gaetano Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” with a warm lyricism and dramatic directness that gave it power and depth. Her voice was focused, almost without vibrato, and she sang simply and lyrically.
Each year, Vermont’s oldest community presents the winner or winners of this award given at the Florence, Italy summer opera competition. Its director is Jane Klaviter, prompter and assistant conductor at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and the Philharmonic’s music director, Lou Kosma, is a longtime bass player at the Met. Therein lies the connection.
Coss, this year’s only winner, is a senior at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., but has sung a variety of opera roles. She sang two other Donizetti arias Sunday and, though there were a few intonation and rhythmic slips, she sang with a direct expressiveness, warm voice and personality. She is one to watch.
Kosma’s many years of opera experience revealed themselves with the Philharmonic’s sensitive accompaniment. More than that, these players delivered their part with a deftness and an appropriately light touch that made for a most rewarding performance.
Kosma and the orchestra used the same skill in accompanying the fledgling Vermont Philharmonic Chorus in the “Bell Chorus” from Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” and the Opening Chorus from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana.” The 20-voice ensemble, led by its director Lisa Jablow, proved its mettle in Rossini’s a cappella “O salutaris, hostia,” which received a warm, expressive performance.
Still, the surprise of the afternoon was the community orchestra’s performance Ottorini Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” This early 20th century tone poem is a masterpiece of orchestral colors and demands virtuosity from the orchestra. Although hardly perfect with some noticeable problems in the slow sections, Sunday’s performance was brilliant, with both the Philharmonic’s brass and woodwinds playing with clarity and flair. The stings, too, played richly with unusual accuracy and passion.
It was with real excitement, both the orchestra’s and the audience’s, that “Pines of Rome” closed Sunday’s performance.
The Vermont Philharmonic and Chorus, conducted by Assistant Conductor Lisa Jablow, will perform Handel’s “Messiah” (Christmas portion and more), at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Montpelier, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Barre Opera House. For tickets or information, call 802-476-8188, or go online to www.vermontphilharmonic.org.