When an elderly opera singer goes to a concert, he may choose an aisle seat so he can vamoose if things don’t pan out to please him. On Friday, Sept. 6, when Florida Opera Theater’s Opera In The Park Series showcased baritone Gabriel Preisser at the Winter Park Community Center, this old-timer stayed glued to his seat from start to finish.
Baritone Preisser demonstrated the requisites of an accomplished concert singer. His voice is excellent, and pliable enough to deliver everything his very musical mind imagines.
At Preisser’s side was pianist Robin Stamper, a virtuoso pro who, I hope, never again is sentenced to play an instrument such as what served as a piano on this occasion.
Preisser’s program was varied enough to have suited him well in New York’s Town Hall. This fact made me wonder how his voice would carry in a full-sized concert hall with an orchestra pit.
Mr. Preisser included five opera arias from his energetic opening, Rossini’s “Largo al Factotum, ” to his encore, Germond’s aria “Di Provenza” from “Traviata.” Along the way Mr. Preisser tossed in a tasteful rendition of Menotti’s “When the Air Sings of Summer” from “The Old Man and the Thief.”
Familiar songs by Johannes Brahms and F. Paolo Tosti were welcome hearing and emphasized good diction, and pleasing legato line. I personally enjoyed Preisser’s touching rendition of Tosti’s “Ideale,” a song I sang on countless programs. Preisser’s range from top to bottom is easy and cut from one cloth.
A special treat was three French cabaret songs by Francis Poulenc. Here Preisser’s panache and humorous interpretation brought smiles to the faces of his audience. Stamper soloed ably in piano pieces by Scriabin and Liszt. Gabriel Preisser ended a delightful evening with Broadway selections from “Paint Your Wagon,” “The Fantasticks” and “Carousel.”