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Subject: Gluck's Armide at Julliard - stars are born.
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 12 Feb 2012 01:12:14 -0500
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We just returned from seeing Gluck's Armide, the second of two performances
at Julliard presented by the Met Lindemann Young Artist Development Program
and Julliard.

It was one of the most memorable and well sung performances we've seen of a
Gluck work, and we've seen plenty, both good and bad.

The cast was studded with talented young singers. First and foremost was
the Armide, Emalie Savoy, a beautiful, statuesque blonde, with a lot of
heart, and a voice that is about as close to a genuine Falcon as one will
hear these days. She had a strong top, and contralto colorings in her solid
lower voice, though there is never a doubt that she is a soprano. Savoy had
no trouble with a role that is every bit as challenging as Isolde,
Brunnhilde and Norma. She sang softly, she sang powerfully, with a
remarkable grasp of the noble Gluckian line. Though still quite young and
just starting her career, already she is a type of soprano that isn't
currently present on the Metropolitan Opera roster in leading roles. Savoy
will be making her Met debut as Kristina in The Makropulos Case  this
season. I believe she is headed for a notable career.

The Renaud is a sweet -voiced tenor, David Portillo, who sang with style,
with the haute-contre range and strength needed for a role that is also
quite challenging. At times he reminded me of a young Nicolai Gedda. I was
reminded of the young Thomas Allen in the fine and steady singing of
Alexander Hajek as Hidraot. He too is destined for a distinguished career.
Other standouts included the lissome beauty Devon Guthrie as Sidonie, and
Wallis Giunta, a mezzo with a lovely tone and feel for the music. Deanna
Breiwick, another blonde beauty, sang her lovely Shepherdess aria with
limpid tone, while Luthando Qave, a South African baritone, with a booming
rich voice suggesting to me that he might one day rescue the dramatic
baritone repertory, and his fellow Crusader, the fine tenor Noah Baetge,
showed beauty and metal in his singing as the Danish Knight. Renee Tatum
was a powerhouse Hate and she brought down the house.

The chorus and the orchestra were splendid, and Jane Glover's conducting,
swift and expert, plowed through the five act Gluck opera with what must
have been record speed, helped no doubt by the elimination of nearly all
the exquisite ballet music. It was a pity that a chance was missed to use
the fine Julliard Dance program or perhaps the other notable ballet school
that shares the building.

Regarding the two professional reviews I've read, the one by Tommasini in
the NYT, while justly raving about the score and the singing, missed the
many cuts which included some of the most beautiful music Gluck ever wrote,
and the veteran FT critic who appeared to like little about the performance
he saw, is not correct about the lack of staging: the opera was staged
albeit with simplicity, and there were costumes which although minimal and
mostly modern dress, perfectly and cleverly conformed to the action. There
was plenty of drama tonight. The vocal standards were exceedingly high,
every one of the singers, including the several I didn't mention sang on a
very high level, a level that would do credit to any company including the
one across the plaza. It was unforgettable.

James Camner

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