By Nino Pantano
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Giulio Gari Foundation, named for the famed Metropolitan tenor, has a mission to encourage young classical singers of the highest quality with grants and performance opportunities. Under the inspiring guidance of Gloria Gari, who was married to the late tenor, the song goes on.
This celebration took place on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the New York Athletic Club with a concert followed by dinner for several hundred friends, patrons and supporters. Special thanks were given to Stephen De Maio, artistic director, and Karl Michaelis, both from the Gerda Lissner Foundation.
The concert began with the Norina-Malatesta duet from Donizetti’s delightful Don Pasquale. Maeve Hoglund’s saucy, flexible soprano soared with coloratura ease with bass baritone Evan Hughes, whose rich versatile voice and compelling comedic talents made for much good cheer.
Soprano Anais Mejias touched the heart with “Signore Ascolta” from Puccini’s Turandot. Her vibrant soprano moved the audience as Liu the slave girl.
Marina Costa-Jackson showed good grit and vocal strength as Tosca in a heartfelt “Vissi d’Arte.” Sopranos Bridgette Gan and Samantha Guevrekian were a stunning blend in “Canzonetta sul aria” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Gan’s lyrical heights and Guevrekian dramatic flights made for perfect harmony.
The “Oh Du Mein Holder Abendstern” from Tannhauser was sung with depth, spirituality and sonority by baritone Norman Garrett.
“Avant de quitter” from Gounod’s Faust was sung by Emmett O’Hanlon, whose silvery baritone took us to lyrical heights.
Diego Silva superbly sang a rarity from Donizetti‘s Il Duca D’Alba, “Angelo Casto e bel” with exquisite beauty, grace and pathos. Aside from a famed Caruso recording, this opera deserves a full hearing.
“Aleko’s Cavatina” from Rachmaninov’s Aleko was sung with subterranean glory by Jeongcheol Cha, whose resonant passionate bass-baritone captured the Russian style perfectly.
Soprano Kiri Deonarine first prize winner sang a thrilling “O luce di quest anima” from Linda di Chamonix. Her fioritura, agility and coloratura were dazzling, and coupled with a radiant stage presence, proved irresistible.
The pianists who provided brilliant accompaniment to the singers were Michael Fennelly and Arlene Shrut.
The special awards hosted by the erudite Brian Kellow (Opera News) were to the great Met bass-baritone James Morris, who accepted his award with joy as his career of over 40 years was praised, and Kim Josephson, also a famed Met Opera baritone, accepted his award with deep humility. Josephson’s daughter is first prize-winning soprano Kiri Deonarine.
Then came the dinner at the famed New York Athletic Club, where amidst food drink and friendship we saw many operatic luminaries -- Brooklyn’s soprano Elaine Malbin, Met mezzo Jane Shaulis, Met legend Elinor Ross, Maestro Eve Queler and countless others.