The familiar score sounded new and fresh thanks to some innovative tweaks by conductor and Director of Opera Will Crutchfield and the hard work of a quartet of remarkable vocal artists.
Lawrence Brownlee (who headlines both Caramoor operas this summer) is one of the fastest rising young singers on the international opera scene. Having made his professional debut only 7 years ago, he has already appeared at La Scala and Covent Garden and won critical acclaim for two leading roles on the Met stage. Quickly becoming one of the main go-to bel canto tenors of the day, he added another notch to his belt singing his first Nemorino Saturday night. Even while cutting a dashing figure in a tuxedo, Brownlee effectively depicted the lovestruck schlub at the center of the story. His smooth tenor filled the house, easily reaching the money notes that the opera aficionados in the crowd were noticeably anticipating.
Just as impressive was Georgia Jarman, every bit Brownlee's equal in charm and ability, as the object of Nemorino's affection. A vision in green, the toned and tanned soprano made a plucky and alluring Adina. Vocally she displayed a powerful, agile coloratura both rich and acrobatic.
A stout-voiced Markus Beam proved ideal as the arrogant sergeant Belcore, and Marco Nistic‹'s huckster Dulcamara was both amusing charlatan and likable sidekick to all (his wedding-party duet with Adina made a particularly amusing entr_e to the second act).
Crutchfield led the Orchestra of St. Luke's in a lighter-sounding orchestration that gelled perfectly with the airy tone of the opera and the lush green surroundings visible within the Venetian Theater.
The final Bel Canto at Caramoor presentation will be the July 31 performance of Rossini's Semiramide.
Tickets, priced $20-$85, may be purchased here.
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All photos by Gabe Palacio.