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Opera concert finds some love and will return

February 28, 2008

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    February 28, 2008
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    Opera Carolina News

Opera concert finds some love and will return

Opera Carolina's James Meena remembers how some people reacted to the prospect of a concert made up of singers taking turns in arias. "What is this?" they would ask. Opera extravaganzas are familiar enough in some cities, especially on festive occasions, but apparently not in Charlotte.

If the company's "Love Notes" concert Feb. 16 was therefore a risk, it turned out to be worth taking.

"It was a surprise, quite honestly, how much people enjoyed that program," Meena said this week. So the company aims for a repeat next Valentine's Day.

Around 600 people attended the concert at Queens University of Charlotte's 1,000-seat Dana Auditorium. The turnout "wasn't bad at all for a first-time outing," Meena said. And the top-price tickets, at $60, sold out. In hopes of boosting next year's box-office take, the company will include "Love Notes" in a season-ticket package alongside the full-blown operas.

This year's concert re-introduced bass Kristopher Irmiter, who last performed for Opera Carolina in 1992 -- and will return next month in the title role of "Don Giovanni," Mozart's recounting of the Don Juan legend. In the devil's "Golden Calf" aria from Gounod's "Faust," Irmiter sang with a snarl when Juan is being villainous.

An aria from Verdi's "A Masked Ball" introduced Lori Phillips, who will unleash her hefty and expressive voice next season on the title role of Puccini's "Turandot." Puccini's ice princess demands just the formidable tones Phillips commands. In another "Masked Ball" aria, baritone Mark Rucker -- who portrayed Verdi's Macbeth in 2004 -- showed that his power and lyricism are still intact. Meena speaks of staging "Masked Ball" in a coming season. Let's hope Rucker is available.

The Charlotte Observer