September 22, 2023


Arts Fanatics

Tanglewood sings with a weekend of opera and choral music


LENOX — Of all the COVID-19 precautionary actions that Tanglewood applied through very last summer’s truncated time, the most obvious was the total absence of vocal songs. No matter whether in the sort of opera, art songs, or choral songs, singing and Tanglewood have always been intertwined, arguably much more than in any other Boston Symphony Orchestra venue. Immediately after all, the volunteer chorus that so usually joins the BSO and Boston Pops is not referred to as the Boston Symphony Orchestra Chorus or the Symphony Corridor Singers: It’s the Tanglewood Festival Refrain. Nonetheless, when this summer’s BSO agenda uncovered a 2nd weekend with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” on Saturday night and Brahms’s “A German Requiem” the up coming afternoon, it almost felt like daring the virus to try to derail the program yet yet again.

But no hammer fell. There ended up no very last-moment substitutions for “Don Giovanni,” and during the Sunday matinee, the risers at the rear of the Koussevitzky Songs Drop phase loaded with the Tanglewood Festival Refrain, approximately a hundred sturdy. The exhibit went on, and what a show.

BSO new music director Andris Nelsons has leaned on Wagner, Strauss, and Puccini for past operatic ventures with the orchestra, so “Don Giovanni” was a a bit astonishing choice for the return of opera to Tanglewood. But it was an impressed a single, specially with the stellar, varied solid that performed out the tale of the punished predator.

Baritone Will Liverman distinguished himself instantly as the Don’s servant Leporello, granting the character additional dignity than normal devoid of sacrificing the opera’s comedic things. The catalog aria in which Leporello details the Don’s sexual conquests to the jilted Donna Elvira was fueled not by gusto but catharsis.

Boston Symphony Orchestra audio director Andris Nelsons conducts sopranos Nicole Cabell and Janai Brugger and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny in “Don Giovanni” at Tanglewood.Hilary Scott

Nicole Cabell’s sweet voice created for an Elvira whom none could accuse of insanity, only a lousy scenario of I-can-fix-him-itis. Janai Brugger was enchanting in her part debut as Zerlina, playing down the sauciness in the controversial “Batti, batti” (”Hit me, hit me”) and turning it up through “Vedrai, carino.”

Michelle Bradley was a grounded and mature Donna Anna, and by her side was the evening’s terrific discovery: Samoan tenor Amitai Pati, who gave Don Ottavio a generous helping of enthusiasm and spine together with his tender legato. There was no doubt this Anna and Ottavio were deeply in enjoy, opposite to the creaky theory of Don G as an irresistible poor boy opposite Don O’s tepid impotence.

It seemed to be an off night for Ryan McKinny, an acclaimed Wagnerian with many stints as Don G in his previous. As the title character, he was the quietest soloist on phase all through Act 1, and the supporting cast (maybe unintentionally) upstaged him at a number of turns. The Don does not have to be the handsomest in the area, nor the loudest, but he will have to have a thing that requires attention — and that anything wasn’t there. McKinny returned in stronger voice soon after intermission, and with each other with Liverman he dealt with the audience to a tasty comic scene. Nelsons performed it secure and serviceable with the smaller orchestra, permitting the singers take middle stage.

Sunday afternoon commenced with the American premiere of Turkish composer Fazil Say’s 4-hands piano concerto “Anka kusu” (“Phoenix”), which was co-commissioned by the BSO and executed by Dutch pianist brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen. The Jussen brothers are a handful of several years apart in age but appeared and dressed like twins onstage, and they moved as a solitary organism all over the piece. Numerous occasions, the score named for the pianists to pluck the strings inside the piano, which produced a sound reminiscent of the central Asian lute named the tar this was juxtaposed with chugging grooves and syncopated outbursts as nicely as episodes of wonderful lyricism. Some songbirds in the rafters chattered, potentially sensing the spiritual existence of their mythological cousin.

The birdsong continued through the 1st two actions of the “German Requiem” after intermission, adding an unexpectedly poignant touch to “Blessed are people who mourn” as the chorus’s incandescent wall of seem rose up. Bass-baritone Shenyang’s diction was crisp, his presence commanding, and his timbre exquisitely hued during his solos. If we are all set on the earth for just one intent, I’m certain that soprano Ying Fang’s is to sing the fifth movement of the “German Requiem.” Her lissome phrases appeared easy, floating on an updraft. Even the birds were briefly silent.


At Tanglewood, Lenox. July 16 and 17.

A.Z. Madonna can be attained at [email protected]. Abide by her on Twitter @knitandlisten.


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