Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Florentine Opera, “Vienna City of My Dreams”

Sunday afternoon, February 14th, we went to Vogel Hall at the Marcus Center for the recital by the Florentine Opera Studio Artists, “Vienna, City of My Dreams.” This was the Florentine’s second Valentine’s day concert showcasing their young artists, Ariana Douglas, soprano; Katherine Fili, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Leighton, tenor; and Leroy Y. Davis, baritone. Accompaniment was provided by Ruben Piiranen, piano, and Barry Paul Clark, double bass. Florentine Opera General Director Willam Florescu was the genial host.

This concert had “Vienna” as a theme, and started off with the title song, “Wein, Du Stadt Meiner Träume,” by Rudolf Siecynski. This was followed by “Sull’aria”, from Le Nozze di Figaro, by Mozart, a duet for the ladies; and by “Non ti fidar, o misera,” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Next up was a piece new to us, “Sonett für Wein” by Erich Korngold, whom I had only known of as a film score composer, beautifully sung by Ms. Fili.
Then, we heard the classic love song, “Dein ist mien ganzes Herz,” by Franz Lehar, which Mr. Leighton did a lovely job with. The first half ended with two pieces from Die Fledermaus, “The Watch Duet,” sung charmingly by Ms. Douglas and Mr. Leighton, and “Bruderlein und Schwesterlein,” by the full ensemble.

After intermission, the concert resumed with “Wochenend und Sonneschein” (literally, “Weekend and Sunshine,”) an arrangement of the “Happy Days Are Here Again” tune with new German lyrics. This was by a group called the Comedian Harmonists, that were popular in Germany in the 20’s and early 30’s.

This was followed by another classic of the genre, “Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß,” also by Lehar from his operetta Giuditta, sung very fetchingly by Ms. Douglas, and then another rarity, “Florenz hat schöne Frauen,” by Franz von Suppé, from his operetta Boccaccio, or the Prince of Palermo, which was a duet by Ms. Fili and Mr. Davis.

Davis then soloed on “Frühlingstraum (Dream of Springtime)” from Franz Schubert’s Winterreise. I must admit that “art songs” are far from my favorite musical genre, but Mr. Davis sang so beautifully that I quite enjoyed it.

The ensemble wrapped up with “Sag beim abschied ‘Servus’” , by Hilm, Lengsfelder, and Kreuder; “The Merry Widow Waltz,” by Lehar, “Edelweiss” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and “Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear,” by Hoffman, Goodheart, Ager and Nelson.

Besides the beautiful music, the concert included interest for the eye as well. The ladies’ gowns were provided by the “Dress for Success” project, which endowed the dresses made by designer Timothy Westbrook. In the first half, Ms. Douglas wore a simply cut gown in off-white satin, which had interest added by layers and swags of differently textured fabrics. This contrasted strikingly with the lush wine-colored gown given to Ms. Fili, which was decorated with sequins and fabric roses at the bust and hip.

The second act gowns were not as successful. Abstract artist Pamela Anderson created some colorful and striking paintings for the stage setting, and designs of hers were also used on fabric for these dresses. Ms. Douglas got a simple black top with a full skirt painted with bold color blocks, which wasn’t bad. However, Ms. Fili’s white gown had a long train embellished with random splotches of green that gave it an unfortunate resemblance to the painter’s drop cloth.
This was a beautiful and romantic concert, extremely well sung and entertainingly presented.

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Tags: music, operetta
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