Carnegie Hall hosted the Opera Orchestra of New York last night, with a back to back performance of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Massenet's La Navarraise. Celebrated as two of the naturalist/verismo operas, these pieces demand dramatic presentation. With a full orchestra,and the New York Choral Society behind them, the singers gave good drama. Led by Maestro Alberto Veronese, a star roster of operatic talent dealt a strong hand of soaring notes, full-bodied duets. Roberto Alagna sang Turiddu from Cavalleria, and Araquil in the darker Navarraise.
His diva in the Mascagni was Maria Guleghina, well-known in New York from her appearances at the Metropolitan Opera. Joined by Mignon Dunn, Carlos Almaguer and Krysty Swann, the performance was as lyrical as the composer could have wished. The brilliance of the conductor's sweeping control, and the scintillating addition of the Choral created a mood in the house of poetic artistry.
The Massenet, written after the huge success of Cavalleria, stirs the emotions on a different level. At Carnegie Hall, supplemental musicians were placed high above the audience, to infuse a sense of the military background, and it worked. Alagna again joins a stellar group, with Elina Garanca (his Carmen at the Met) singing the title role. Ildar Abdrazakov, handsome and commanding, sang the part of Garrido, the General. The cast was balanced with: Issachah Savage, Brian Kontes, and Michael Anthony McGee.
At the stage door, like good New York groupies, we got no glimpse of Robertino. He had left by the main entrance, leaving us waiting until the next time. Just like a man.