The Florida sun is hot. The Florida sky douses us with rain. But who’s complaining? We’re in Florida! On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 4, we went to the University Club where tenor Marco Panuccio sang a program of Italian songs and opera arias called “O Sole Mio.”
He showed us a voice that was pleasant and communicated the meaning of the words lucidly. He was robust, but not rotund, as many of his tenor colleagues tend to be. I, as an erstwhile concert and operatic tenor, heard only what I wanted to hear in his renditions. In the overall he entertained and pleased me.
He added a song to his program, “Rondine Al Nido” which supplanted an encore. The singer conversed energetically with his public along the way and told them all they needed to know about his songs, many of which they had likely heard before. Here were Italian songs galore that brought warm memories and happy recollections. Panuccio came back to “Sorrento” in song, and awakened us with “Mattinata,” had the audience join him in “Funiculi, Funicula,” and sang a rousing “O Sole Mio.”
I think that Panuccio sold his wares attractively, and his audience showed him due appreciation. A particular favorite of mine was the great aria “Che gelida manina” from Puccini’s “La Bohème.”
Now that we have bid “adieu” to summer, we hail the fall that is acomin’. Music is our undying friend that will accompany us wherever we go, as long as programs such as these continue.
The Three Baritones
With “The Three Tenors” in one concert, I thought I might have heard it all but on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 28, at the University Club, my plate was full and running over again when I heard “The Three Baritones.”
This concert was part of Opera Orlando’s Summer Series.
As a professional opera and concert singer for many years in America and Europe, I heard, God knows, my share of baritones and some of them became very good friends of mine. One friend, Robert Weede, was an especially wonderful singer, and the marvelous baritone John Charles Thomas helped me greatly at the start of my career when I was just out of the Navy in the beginning of 1946. But this was the first time I encountered three baritones on one concert program!
The handsome, young men, baritones all, Brian Myer, Gabriel Preisser, and Nathan Stark presented an afternoon of good, solid singing from three well-trained excellent voices who knew their way around the stage as though they had been born on it. These three, it seems to me, wisely avoided any competitive approach to their different voices and styles.
Opening with the “Largo al factotum” from “The Barber of Seville,” Brian and Gabriel took the first steps in the afternoon’s energetic romp. Then Nathan sang “Non piu andrai” from “The Marriage of Figaro.” A personable, talkative, narrative song from Cole Porter’s immortal Broadway show “Kiss Me Kate,” received thoughtful treatment when Gabriel rendered “Where is the Life that Late I Led.” From Erich Korngold’s “Die tote Stadt,” Brian sang the “Tanzlied,” a serious and haunting moment.
Returning to the realm of pure fun, Nathan and Gabriel brought a lady from the audience on stage and wooed her ardently with “If ever I would leave you” from “Camelot.” Whew! What a moment! And then Brian and Gabriel immediately sang “Agony” from “Into the Woods.”
Brian and Nathan performed “Cheti, cheti immantinente,” from “Don Pasquale.” Just before the break all three baritones chimed in with “To sit in solemn silence...” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” – the section where the three are deciding who was going to lose his head! — more fun!
After the break came the famous “Toreador Song” from “Carmen” sung in trio. Then was the refreshing “My Funny Valentine” from the musical, “Babes In Arms” performed by Brian. Nathan and Gabriel then collaborated in Rigoletto’s “Quel vecchio maledivami.” Baritones in trio all burst forth in “Souni la tromba” from Bellini’s “I Puritani.” Lastly and most interestingly the three baritones collaborated in performing the Act II Finale from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” — Brian as Leporello, Gabriel as the Don, and Nathan as the Commendatore — a very moving and satisfying ending to the afternoon’s auspicious beginning romp. Accompanying this whole affair was indefatigable super pianist Robin Stamper.
The opera, “Don Giovanni,” will be performed by Opera Orlando this coming season and judging from the sold out crowd’s enthusiastic Sunday response, should not be missed!
Our next concert treat is on Sunday Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Walt Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The concert is titled “One Voice Orlando — a celebration in song!” Opera is responding to the Pulse nightclub tragedy with international and national vocal stars and a cast of hundreds — not to be missed. Opera Orlando’s opening season includes “Don Pasquale,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” and “Don Giovanni.”
This opening season is a quality one and tastefully varied. See you there! Visit operaorlando.org for more information.