Tag Archives: AVA

Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades at AVA

Queen of Spades (Pique Dame) Opera by  Peter I. Tchaikovsky) Russian Opera Workshop,  Ghenady Meirson, Music Director & Pianist, Academy of Vocal Arts,  Helen Corning Warden Theater, 1925 Spruce St., Philadelphia, Performed July 24, 25, 26, 2012. Review of 7/25 for WRTI, 90.1 fm

The Russian Workshop that summers at Academy of Vocal Arts took on a big challenge this month with Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades. Adding to the challenges of the dificult opera, the heat was stifling in AVA’s shoebox theater. Just as well that the 13 emerging artists from all over the map weren’t in costume. So tight were they stuffed on stage for the  concert performance – with music director Ghenady Meirson  at the keyboard.  Meirson needed a better piano for the ravages of this tale. Queen of Spades, based on Pushkin,  is another love story that doesn’t end well.  Herman, who gambles, also not well, has his heart set on Liza, who’s engaged to someone else. If he can win the secrets of the cards from Lisa’s grandmother, the countess, he thinks he’ll win the girl.  Fate of course throws its hand. But not before lots of girl and guy friends put in their money’s worth. The cast of young singers in the Russian Workshop production at AVA   were nicely matched.  At the performance I heard (July 25). Herman was sung by tenor Steven Williamson of Westminster Choir College, who gave the role an increasingly obsessive ardor. Liza was Nathalie Avila, from Miami, whose power and range is immense. Michael J. Davis was an excellent Tomsky. Maude Paradis took the Countess or the Queen of Spades at this one but all the women’s roles were notable especially the governess of mezzo Raehann Bryce Davis of Manhattan, who sang the title other nights. Look for these young artists everywhere.

Fa la la… Orchestra mixes it up for Xmas

The Glorious Sound of Christmas, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rossen Milanov, cond., Mendelssohn Choir,  Alan Harler, director, soloists from the Curtis Institute and Academy of Vocal Arts;  Pat Carriocchi, narrator. Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, Dec. 15-17, 2011, Review of Dec. 17 for WRTI, 90. 1 fm.

To celebrate its 10th year at the Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Orchestra wanted to include the musical community in its annual Christmas concert at Verizon Hall, maestro Rossen Milanov told the cheerful crowd at Verizon Hall Saturday night. The Mendelsohn Club offered a selection of carols, J.S. Bach (from The Mass in B Minor) and Handel;  pretty women from the Curtis Institute bowed away at Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor.

The Glorious Sound of Christmas was a potpourri of musical entertainment. Excerpts from The Nutcracker included two arrangements by Ellington and Strayhorn that showed bassist Mike Shaham and clarinetist Sam Caveziel’s gifts of improv and guest saxophone player Larry McKenna. On the other end of sentiment, newscaster Pat Carriocchi  narrated (very well) “The Night Before Christmas.” Whomever put together the orchestra’s holiday program took the kitchen sink approach.

The famous opening  scene from La Boheme was enacted on stage.  Curtis soprano Elizabeth Zharoff and AVA tenor Zach Borischevsky have superb voices. They did a terrific job staying in character through the long scene in front of maestro Milanov. They had some trouble powering  over the orchestra – which is to be expected -most Mimis and Rodolfos do not sing at these posts! Borischevsky was singing at the 11th hour for the tenor who took ill.

Nice to hear the Mendelsohnians whose esprit is unrivaled. The after- intermission number, Bass’s Gloria was richly legato.

Milanov is a smooth leader and genial host. Peter Conti at the organ did a fine job and  how swell his essential instrument looked with the colored pipes mimicking holiday ornaments.

Next up- gifted women worth knowing: English leader Jane Glover’s “Messiah,” and young Sarah Hicks’ Viennese New Years’ program.