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Posts Tagged ‘FOPAC’

Saturday night we saw a splendid production of Puccini’s opera La Bohème at a $25-a-seat benefit for the Friends of the Performing Arts. Pretty amazing to have fully staged opera professionally sung with orchestra accompaniment someplace other than the big city.

Robin Farnsley, who sang the role of the Bohemian seamstress suffering from tuberculosis, was the heart and soul of the production. I blogged about her before, here. Not only was her singing exquisite, but her acting was unusually sensitive and subtle for opera.

But all the leads were great in this tale of poverty and the artistic spirit: Ray Bauwens as as Mimi’s love, Rodolfo; Tim Wilfong as a delightful Marcello; and Sarah Vincelett as the thoroughly convincing coquette, Musetta. Also worthy of mention were Michael Prichard, Thomas Dawkins, and Miles Rind.

I loved the naturalistic translation, shown in supertitles.

Alan Yost conducted, Kathy Lague was stage director, and Paula Eldridge was chorus master. As far as I know, everyone donated their time to support the performing arts in Concord.

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Friday night I went to see the Groove Barbers at 51 Walden, not knowing quite what to expect. It turns out that three of the barbershop team were the original founders of Rockapella. One of them, Charlie Evett, lives in Concord, which explains why the others came to town.

They started off with “Love Potion Number 9,” and I knew I had come to the right place. The evening was super entertaining. It wasn’t exactly Oldies Night, but I liked hearing some songs I recognized from my youth. I also appreciated some of the musical jokes. The guys did a jazzy “Angels we have heard on high,” with the Deo of “in excelsis Deo” gradually morphing into “Day-o.” And they premiered of a new orchestration of one of my all-time favorite pop songs, “You don’t know me.”

They brought on a few guests: a young guy who makes those snare drum sounds so essential to a capella and a niece from Barnard College. Really terrific was lead singer Sean’s wife, Inna Dukach, a professional opera singer, who sometimes performs opera as they doo-wop in the background.

Sean Altman, Charlie Evett and Steve Keyes are the ones who were in Rockapella. Kevin Weist is the fourth Groove Barber. In addition to barbershop, the four perform rock, doo-wop, and jazz. Their website says they were featured in national TV commercials as The Astelins, offering “Astelin nasal spray to seasonal allergy sufferers.” (Available on YouTube.)

The Groove Barbers wound up with a bread and butter song from their past life, “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego,” which Suzanne’s dad suspects had a key influence on her love of travel.

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Gian Carlo Menotti composed Amahl and the Night Visitors for an NBC Christmas show in 1951. He was under deadline and drawing a blank when the painting “The Adoration of the Magi” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art sparked his childhood memories of three kings who visit Italian children with gifts.

I have seen the operetta and listened to the recording many times. It takes only the first few bars and the lovely oboe representing the shepherd boy’s pipe for me to bring out the tissues and start crying and smiling all the way through.

A production today at the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord was excellent. Kim Lamoureux took the role of Amahl. Robert Runck was stage director. Robin Farnsley was music director. Farnsley also was a breathtaking Mother of Amahl. Her anguish in the scene where her fear for her son overcomes her is heartbreaking as she inches toward the gold of the sleeping kings.

“All that gold! All that gold!
I wonder if rich people know what to do with their gold?
Do they know how a child could be fed? Do rich people know?”

You may read the whole script of this short operetta here. And there are lots of snippets on YouTube. I include one from the 50s.

Update: December 22, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Amahl and the Night Visitors, with soloists Julia Shneyderman, Robin Farnsley, Ray Bauwens, Brad Amidon, Thomas Dawkins, and Michael Prichard. Chorus and orchestra conducted by Alan Yost,  Tickets $20 adults/$10 students. Call 978 369-7911 or buy on-line.

Follow us on twitter @LunaStellaBlog.

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