After Friday’s uplifting, beautifully crafted opening night SummerFest concert, I was shocked to experience such a tasteless, aggressive musical assault attending SummerFest’s second concert on the following night, August 4, in UC San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Concert Hall.
If you are going to produce a rarely staged G. F. Handel opera, it is a good thing to have a few Handel operas under your belt. Opera NEO’s vibrant, superbly sung “Partenope” this past weekend (August 3 & 5) revealed how confidently this company has succeeded in making these Baroque operas as dramatically engaging as the popular verismo warhorses.
This season of La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest brings down the curtain on Music Director Cho-Liang Lin’s superb 18-year tenure with the festival. Friday’s opening concert offered sublime chamber works by Bartók and Villa-Lobos, as well as wit and charm in Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals.”
Opera NEO launched its summer season with a flashy, kinetic, cleverly updated production of that warhorse of operettas, Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow. Forget about Paris of 1905–the widow returns to Las Vegas of today.
Two recent impressive performances of choral music: Ruben Valenzuela’s Willan West project offered some fine examples of Healey Willan’s liturgical choral music in Hillcrest’s All Saints’ Episcopal Church, and Patrick Walders’ Summer Conducting Workshop offered a program of primarily secular choral music in the workshop’s final recital at St. Andrew’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Pacific Beach.
As a tantalizing preview to Opera NEO’s upcoming festival of three staged operas, Friday’s Cabaret concert at the Encinitas Library Concert Hall promises a season of highly charged drama and polished lead singers. This annual program offered a sparkling variety of ensembles and duets from opera, operetta, and musical theater performed by the members of the 2018 festival.