Entertainment » Music

Miami Summer Music Festival

by Jack Gardner
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 28, 2015
Joana Latini as Gretel and Jooyean Song as Hansel in Humperdinck's 'Hansel and Gretel'
Joana Latini as Gretel and Jooyean Song as Hansel in Humperdinck's 'Hansel and Gretel'  (Source:Synthia Steiman)

The Miami Summer Music Festival has opened its second season to great success. Now hosted at Barry University in Miami, the festival provides education and performance opportunities to over 200 young musicians.

The festival features four operas and several concerts covering the symphonic, vocal and piano fields. The performance venues will include the Shepard & Ruth K Broad Performing Arts Center at Barry University, The Andy Gato Gallery at Barry University, The Betsy Hotel and The New World Center in Miami Beach.

The opening concert on July 17 was a delight and featured soprano Betsy Diaz performing two Wagner arias, "Dich, teure Holle" from "Thannhauser" and "Du bist der Lenz," Sieglende's aria from "Die Walküre." The concert also featured a performance of Mahler's "Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor" conducted by festival director and founder Michael Rossi.

The vocal students were given the opportunity on July 19 and 20 to attend masterclasses with legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes and afterwards performed in concert the pieces that they worked with Milnes.

The first of the operas presented this season was Englebert Humperdinck's 1893 classic "Hansel und Gretel." The opera was performed in English and geared towards the audience's youngest members.

On the July 18 opening night, there were several standout performances in an overall excellent cast. In the role of Gretel, soprano Joanna Latini was a superstar with her crystal clear diction and her ringing bell-like soprano. It was a lovely experience to hear her sing.

Mezzo-soprano Jooyeon Song sang Hansel with a rich velvety voice and an impish charm. Song's voice has a nice dark color to it and a very warm tone.

The set design by Yuki Izumihara and the projections by Yee Eun Nam provided a colorful backdrop for the performers and coupled with Camilla Haith's costumes, evoked the fairytale backdrop.

The orchestra was conducted by Yurly Bekker and the performance featured members of the Doral Conservatory Children's Choir.

Sarah Anderson as Nancy in 'Albert Herring'  (Source:Synthia Steiman)

The second opera of this season was Benjamin Britten's "Albert Herring," With its provincial storyline, it is truly a British opera in every way. It has remained one of the most frequently performed 20th century operas since its premiere in 1947.

It tells the tale of a village that, unable to find a suitably chaste young maiden to be May Queen, elects a virtuous but repressed young man, Albert Herring, to be May King. With the prize money, Albert quickly loses his virtue, much to the dismay of the town elders.

On the July 24 opening night, Jennifer Zamorano gave a fine performance as Lady Bellows. Zamorano's dramatic soprano voice has the size and weight to it that allows it to be heard in the back corners of the hall.

Baritone Anthony Potts gave a strong performance as the Vicar and Victoria Esposito was charming as the spinster school teacher, Miss Wordsworth.

In the smaller role of Nancy, a young girl who is friends with Albert, Sarah Anderson almost stole the show. Her mezzo-soprano voice was ringing and crystalline and absolutely stunning. This voice is one of the best young mezzo-soprano voices Miami has heard in a season that has featured some great mezzo singing from Florida Grand Opera. Anderson obviously has a fine career in front of her.

All of the young singers in the opening cast gave fine performances. The orchestra was conducted by Steven Gathman.

Izumihara, Nam and Haith once again provided period appropriate sets, projections and costumes for this production and their efforts were, once again spot on and highly enjoyable to watch.

The festival will continue with two more operas, "Cendrillon" by Jules Massenet and "Don Giovanni" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as well as several concerts.

The Second Season of the Miami Summer Music Festival runs through August 2 in various Miami Locations. For tickets and information, call 800-838-3006 or visit miamisummermusicfestival.com.

Jack Gardner has been producing theater in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale for the past 8 years. He has performed in operas, musicals and dramatic works as well as doing voice-over and radio work. Jack lives in South Florida with his three dogs.

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