Archive for the ‘press reviews’ Category

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Halloween Eve Concert of Arias 2015 was broadcast on MNN on 16 January 2016 9-9:30PM.

The name of the Program is The Manhattan Classical Opera & Concert series.  

RCN watch Channel #83 TWC>#56  and FIOS is #34

Go to “” The program is listed as being on Channel 2 (within their site). 


Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” isn’t even one of my favorite opera, but I have seen five performances of it this season. Inclement summer weather precluded my seeing a sixth presented outdoors by New York Grand Opera.

Bleecker Street Opera, one of two companies continuing the Amato Opera tradition, presented a fully staged “Butterfly” for four performances in August in a church basement auditorium. Praise must go to conductor and musical director Richard Owen in leading 17 players in an expert reduction of Puccini’s score. Very little musical detail seemed to be lost, and the performance was lovingly shaped.

Director John Schenkel updated the period to the 1950s with Cio-Cio San a war bride. The spare settings included only sliding screens, floral arrangements, and a few lacquered tables and stools. Christina Rohm was a vocally strong Butterfly with a tireless upper register, and Joan Peitscher’s Suzuki was richly sung and moving in the final scene.

The men, as is usual with these smaller companies, were not on the same level as the women — pitch problems and rough attacks on high notes abounded. However, the intimacy of the space connected one with the performers and Puccini’s simple story of love and betrayal.

“Butterfly” says in the love duet that “we are people who are accustomed to small humble quiet things,” and it was in the intimacy, tenderness and modesty of this production that it touched the heart. Bleecker Street Opera returns in November with “The Saint of Bleecker Street” and in December with “Carmen.”



A new, self- described “scrappy young company” called Opera Manhattan put on a triple-cast “La Boheme”

with a contemporary slant in one of Off-Off-Broadway’s black box Roy Arias Studios. Heard November 20, it was an affecting performance due to producer Elspeth Davis’s ingenious use of a tiny space and a game young cast. The look was “bohemian” as in East Village hipster, but Davis wisely avoided the current clich√© of having an impoverished Rodolfo (Edgar Jaramillo) on a laptop; only the charmingly grasping Musetta of Kristina Semos could afford a cell phone. Schaunard (Robert Maril) and Colline (company co-founder Bryce Smith) were played as an openly affectionate gay couple, which made perfect sense in this context. Somehow, despite their penury, these handsome guys did not lack for access to good haircutters and product.

Everyone had something to offer, but the finest work came from Vaughn Lindquist, a robust-voiced yet nuanced Marcello ready for larger companies. Anna Noggle, also singing very creditably, offered an extremely detailed and moving Mimi; her big moments evoked tears. The score, under music director Lloyd Arriola (piano, prompter) and Spencer Blank (keyboard), did indeed emerge scrappy but spirited, and – unlike other mini-“Boheme” productions I’ve seen -the team shirked nothing; the chorus took enthusiastic part in the performance.

Next up for Opera Manhattan: Humperdinck’s wayward siblings, then Floyd’s “Susannah.”

David Shengold ( writes about opera for many venues.

This “Tosca” is just how Puccini himself envisioned it.

Some contemporary opera companies like to update the 110-year-old classic — traditionally set in Rome in 1800 — by setting it in, say Mussolini’s Italy or modern times. But the founders of Bay Ridge’s Regina Opera Company are purists at heart.

Regina Opera Opens 41st Season With a Thrilling Tosca

BENSONHURST — The performance of Tosca on Sunday, Nov. 21, by Brooklyn’s Regina Opera gave the large audience everything they could desire. Tosca, an opera in three acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, is the tale of the actress Floria Tosca, the lustful chief of Police Baron Scarpia and her political-prisoner lover Mario Cavaradossi.

By Nino Pantano

Par Selin Yasar  19 août 2010 –

David Mimran enchante Manhattan avec <i>Madama Butterfly</i>
La compagnie Bleecker Street Opera donnera quatre représentations de Madama Butterfly de Giacomo Puccini, à partir du 18 août à New York, dans le quartier de Greenwich. Parmi la distribution, David Mimran, Français venu chanter dans la Grosse Pomme.
Éditeur Internet de l’ONU le jour et chanteur basse-baryton d’opéra la nuit, David Mimran joue à la ville et sur scène plusieurs personnages. Français établi à New York depuis 10 ans, il fera partie de la distribution de Madama Butterfly de Giacomo Puccini, à partir du 18 août. Pour ces quatre représentations, il incarnera Yakuside, l’oncle du personnage principal, et un serviteur.
Passionné d’opéra depuis son adolescence, cet ancien avocat parisien a tout abandonné pour étudier le chant à The City University of New York (CUNY) en 2000. « Une nouvelle ville pour tout recommencer  à zéro », explique David Mimran. Contrairement à la France où le milieu est très fermé aux débutants, il a été chaleureusement accueilli à New York. « Ici, on n’est pas obligé d’avoir commencé très jeune et d’avoir fait des années de conservatoire, chacun a sa chance, » apprécie-t-il. Depuis ses débuts, le chanteur travaille également sa voix avec un professeur de chant et un coach québécois. Et aujourd’hui ses efforts se font ressentir, la flexibilité de sa voix est devenu un atout majeur.
David Mimran a plusieurs cordes artistiques à son arc. Musicien, il joue de la guitare et du saxophone. Il est également photographe et poète. Et son petit plus, c’est d’être polyglotte…  avec pas moins de 9 langues parlées ! Dont l’anglais, le français, l’italien, l’espagnol et l’allemand couramment, mais aussi le finnois, l’hébreu, le portugais.
« L’opéra, c’est le plaisir d’allier chant et théâtre, » selon David Mimran. Un mélange somptueux qui se perd à l’écoute d’un disque. Ses opéras préférés ? Parsifal de Wagner et Don Giovanni de Mozart. Parmi les rôles qu’il a eu l’occasion d’interpréter, Figaro, personnage principal des Noces de Figaro de Mozart, lui a particulièrement plu. “Le rôle principal, une musique et des dialogues splendides”, se souvient-il.
À la rentrée, David Mimran jouera un rôle dans Tosca de Giacomo Puccini. Il s’envolera ensuite pour auditionner à Paris où il souhaite y faire vibrer ses cordes vocales pour la première fois.
Les blogs de David Mimran pour suivre sa carrière de chanteur d’opéra , les photos et poèmes de David Mimran
Infos pratiques :
Madama Butterfly
25 Carmine Street, New York
Vendredi 18 août à 19 h
Jeudi 19 août à 19 h
Mercredi 25 août 19 h
Jeudi 26 août 19 h
New York Times

Happier Ending for Artist’s Jilted Love


Recorded 13 May 2010

L’amour triomphe – Bass part in Ensemble from Pygmalion, Jean-Philippe Rameau
Underworld Productions, Symphony Space, NYC, 13 May 2010, Credits

Published: May 14, 2010

The Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble is intent on finding interesting ways to present opera on a microscopic budget while also making a social point or two about the war of the sexes that animates so many plots.

Joshua Bright for The New York Times

“Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady,” with Casey Hutchinson, center, as the god of love, at Symphony Space.

Last season the troupe staged a version of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” in which the audience was asked to vote, by text message, on how the lovers should be paired off at the end. The company’s latest offering, on Thursday evening at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space, was “Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady”: a pairing of Rameau’s “Pygmalion” with a quirky new multimedia piece by Lynn Book. Though less gimmicky than the “Così,” it still involved some plot tweaking.

Technically, “Pygmalion” is not an opera but an acte de ballet: a peculiar French hybrid in which dance reveals as much of the plot as the singing. Pygmalion, a sculptor, is besotted with a statue he has created, a circumstance that his flesh-and-blood girlfriend, Céphise, finds bewildering. She stomps off, demanding that the gods punish him, but Amour, the god of love, decides to bring the statue to life instead, giving Pygmalion his ideal mate.

Gina Crusco, the artistic director of the Underworld group and the director of this production, found this ending unsatisfactory but provided an inventive solution. She combined the roles of Céphise and the Statue (they are usually taken by two singers), and instead of allowing Pygmalion to enjoy his creation brought to life, she devoted part of the work’s central dance suite to having the spirits dress the newly animated statue in Céphise’s clothes. In this version the rejected Céphise gets her man.

It was an interesting twist, and it was set up, to some extent, by a fragment of Rameau’s “Hippolyte et Aricie,” in which Jupiter ruled in favor of love in a dispute between Amour and Diana. The scene was included in Ms. Book’s “Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie,” a piece that includes an electronic score, video, musings about opera and culture, and a good deal that seemed random.

Ms. Grusco’s elegantly simple staging of “Pygmalion” unfolded within spare sets by Hannah Black, with the singers dressed in vaguely antique robes and togas by Carol Pelletier.

Once Nils Neubert overcame his initial tentativeness in the title role, his attractive tenor, beautifully controlled vibrato and amusing, flexible portrayal of Pygmalion carried the evening. Casey Hutchinson gave an attractive account of Amour’s music (and Diana’s, in the “Hippolyte et Aricie” excerpt), and Paige Cutrona made the most of Céphise’s brief moment in the spotlight.

But the real stars here were the players from Sinfonia New York, the period-instrument band, led from the violin by Robert Mealy. Given the centrality of dance in “Pygmalion,” much of the score is instrumental, and these players gave it an energetic, well-balanced reading, with particularly striking contributions from the ensemble’s two flutists, Sandra Miller and Anne Briggs. The dancers, some of whom doubled as chorus singers, executed Edgar Cortes’s lively choreography gracefully.

Thu, May 13 at 7:30 pm
Leonard Nimoy Thalia
$30; Members, Students, Seniors $25; Day of Show $40

Why can’t a woman be more like a …statue?” asks Underworld Productions Opera in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s 1748 one-act. A dramatic twist featuring a “reverse striptease” will leave one wondering whether Pygmalion’s lady has indeed been unfair. This performance, in French with supertitles, is directed by Gina Crusco and features Nils Neubert, tenor and Sinfonia New York period orchestra. Curtain-raiser features transmedia performance artist Lynn Book in a scene from The Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie.

Rameau’s music stunned its original auditors with its dissonance and innovation. The quest to capture his daring for modern ears led to the creation by Crusco and Book of The Annotated Hippolyte et Aricie. In this trans-media treatment of the Prologue from Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, Book creates an alternative narrative and sonic world to the opera scene that includes video by media artist Robin Starbuck and music composed by Katharina Klement.

Rameau and Rebellion, a short discussion between Book and Dr. Mark A. Pottinger, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Manhattan College, will explore the issues of breaking the rules and iconoclasm in the 18th and 21st centuries.

The cast includes Nils Neubert, tenor (Pygmalion); Paige Cutrona, soprano (La Statue); and Casey Hutchinson, soprano (Amour). Additional collaborators include Edgar Cortes, choreographer; Carlo Adinolfi, set designer; Christina Watanabe, lighting designer; and Carol Pelletier, costume designer. Stage direction is by Gina Crusco.

Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble, Inc. was created in 2004 under the artistic direction of Gina Crusco. The ensemble’s Advisory Board includes Marcello Giordani, internationally renowned operatic tenor. The group made its impact on the cultural landscape in 2009 by using text messaging interactivity to determine Cosi fan Tutte‘s final pairings, an event recognized inMusical America‘s “Year in Music,” in a New York Times interview and first arts-page article; and in the blogosphere (Madison Opera blog: “This is genius!”). Past performances include the 2007 world premiere of Henry Papale’s JULIA: An Operatic Monodrama, based on the letters of Julia Ward

Sinfonia New York early music orchestra joins the ensemble to render Rameau’s work in its original tonal palette and period musical style. Sinfonia was founded in 2007 by two of New York’s most experienced and respected period instrument musicians, with a mission to present dynamic and innovative concerts of the baroque and classical repertoire. Since its debut on October 1, 2007 at Town Hall, Sinfonia has given four concerts in New York City. At Town Hall they highlighted Haydn, giving a “spirited” and “deft” reading of his “Harmoniemesse” (all quotes from The New York Times). In May 2008 they gave “lithe and gracious” performances of Mozart and Haydn at the Society for Ethical Culture. In October 2008 they joined the St. Thomas Choir for Mozart’s Requiem and the U.S. premiere of Franz Xaver Richter’s Mass in A – “a terrific concert.” In May 2009 they performed The Art of the Chaconnewith Baroque dancers at Ethical Culture – “impeccable, thoughtfully shaped, dramatically taut.”

Lynn Book’s 25 year history of interdisciplinary artistic practice cuts across boundaries between performance art, extended voice and new music forms, language and visual arts in hybrid projects which critics have called “bold and inspired.” The Chicago Tribune calledNotes On Desire “a beguiling thrill ride of a concept piece” andPaper Magazine called Book an “intelligent and influential performance artist.” Book’s work has received citations, fellowships, and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Franklin Furnace, and Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

Nils Neubert, tenor (Pygmalion) recently made his debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall as a First Prize Winner of the 2010 Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition. He was a finalist in the 2010 Liederkranz Vocal Competition, and a winner in the 2009 Friday Woodmere Vocal Competition, where he received the Barbara Leonard Award. Allan Kozinn of The New York Timeshailed him as one of a September 2009 performance’s “excellent vocal soloists.”

Paige Cutrona, soprano (La Statue) was described as ‘passionate’ and ‘vocally striking’ by the New York Times for her portrayal of Mimi in La Bohème in Amore Opera’s inaugural performance in December 2009. The year 2009 also brought her solo debut at Lincoln Center singing the soprano solos in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, as well as her debut in Washington State singing Britten’s radio cantata The Company of Heaven with Mid Columbia Master Singers and orchestra.

Casey Hutchinson, soprano (Amour) sang the role of Despina in Underworld Productions’ Cosi fan Tutte in 2009, winning this praise from Sam Perwin in Opera News Online: “The standout was Casey Hutchinson’s Despina, sung with a bright, silvery soprano and just the right amount of sass for this saucy servant.” New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini noted her participation in the program “Women Extraordinaire,” writing: “The highlight was a performance of the ‘Flower Duet’…by Casey Hutchinson.”

Pygmalion: My Unfair Lady is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by LMCC. Additional funding has been provided by Venable Foundation and the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation. Underworld Productions thanks Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, JP Morgan Chase, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and the Dwyer Cultural Center for their support.


The hardy, rough-and-ready ethos of the old Amato Opera had its charm, but its limitations became clear as the decades went by. Bleecker Street, one of two companies formed by former Amato personnel, has fostered a more professional standard of performance; its production of Rossini’s immortal comedy is directed by Teresa K. Pond and conducted by David Rosenmeyer, the associate conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York. (45 Bleecker Street Theatre. 212-239-6200. Jan. 9 at 3 and Jan. 10 at 7.)

Read more:

Opera Review (NYC): The Barber of Seville at the Bleecker Street Opera
New York music fans loudly lamented the passing of the long-running Amato Opera earlier this year. Despite a reputation for uneven quality, the little family-run “opera house that could” had been an East Village institution since 1948, presenting stripped-down productions of operatic standards and charging low ticket prices while giving rising singers an opportunity to hone their craft.
Amato veterans have wasted no time rising from the ashes. Not one but two companies have emerged to wear the Amato’s mantle. One, the Bleecker Street Opera, has found a home at the relatively spacious downstairs theater at 45 Bleecker Street, and I attended the second performance of its second production, Rossini’s Barber of Seville, last night. The staff seemed unprepared for the full house. Everything was a little disorganized, and the show started late. The Rosina (Malena Dayen) was recovering from bronchitis. The Bartolo was a last-minute substitute who needed line cues from conductor/music director David Rosenmeyer. Mr. Rosenmeyer himself had been a late addition to the team after the unexpected departure of Paul Haas. And with all that, what did we get? Not technical perfection, it’s true, but a thoroughly enjoyable and in some respects exceptional production, thanks to the cast of superb singers, the hardworking Mr. Rosenmeyer and his mini-orchestra, and a talented production team led by stage director Teresa K. Pond.
William Browning was a simply glorious Figaro, with a suave and powerful baritone, a solid yet agile stage presence, and a constant twinkle in his eye; his tremendous, antic “Largo al factotum” set a high bar. Anthony Daino brought a droll, Depardieu-esque assurance to Count Almaviva, with a sweet, sunny tenor. And Ms. Dayen, who like Mr. Rosenmeyer hails from Argentina, imbued Rosina with a fluid, coquettish energy, making her more than an equal to the scheming but good-hearted Count and the brash barber. No delicate flower was this Rosina, and I could detect little if any evidence of any lingering illness in Ms. Dayen’s wonderful singing; if anything she seemed to strengthen as the evening wore on.
In a larger setting, the quality of acting in an opera like this – while important – can take a back seat. Not so in an intimate space, but the acting in this production was exceptional, as was the singers’ diction. Whatever few words of Italian you may know – even if they don’t go beyond “presto” and “piano” and “stanza” – you’ll hear every one of them clearly.
The orchestra, though only about fifteen pieces, is a considerable step up from the tiny combos that accompanied Amato productions, and the musicians acquitted themselves very well, playing with verve and skill; the winds sparkled, and even the strings sounded generally in tune despite being so few in number.
Best of all, with a small house like this, there are virtually no bad seats, and everyone gets to feel up close and personal. It’s quite different from somewhere like the Met, where everything is so fancy and grand. This is gritty opera, just the basics, but what crowd-pleasing basics they are.
Jon Sobel
Dateline: New York City
Articles: 474