By Nino Pantano
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Community Church of New York, located in the Murray Hill section of the city, echoed with the sound of heavenly voices on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Opera Index was flexing its muscle and showcasing some extraordinary singers.
The president of Opera Index, Murray Rosenthal, exhibited his extraordinary skills in hosting an evening of food and fun while paying tribute to recently deceased members. We all had a moment of silence for much loved patrons Annie Benoit and Eda Zahl and then as they would have wanted, the music began.
With the virtuoso piano skills of accompanist Michael Fennelly, the award winners of the 2013 competitions performed.
Tracy Cox sang “Pace, pace mio Dio” from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. Cox demonstrated a rich textured powerful soprano that recalled the halcyon days at the old Met when such sumptuous voices reigned. Her pianissimos floated and her dramatic singing of the final “Maledizione” was right on the mark!
Nian Wang sang “Vois sur l’archet fremissant” (Violin aria) from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. Her amber mezzo soprano fell upon the ear with the warm texture of a viola.
James Edgar Knight is a tall Australian tenor who studied in Germany. His nicely shaded “Dein ist mein ganzes," Herz brought new sparkle to this old chestnut. Knight uses his talents and plangent tenor to caress and seduce an audience.
Avery Amereau sang an impressive “Connais-tu le pays?” from Mignon. Her luscious mezzo captured the French style of this piquant aria with mellow magic. Amereau brought us both softness and urgency.
Juan Jose de Leon sang a delightful “Ah! mes amis” from Donizetti’s La fils du regiment” and easily negotiated its 9 high “C’s”. His tenor has real Squillo (shine) and the results were thrilling!
The entire company, including Met mezzo and treasurer of Opera Index Jane Shaulis, sang a rousing dinner song “This is a real nice party” from Carousel naming the various dishes offered by the membership for dinner from lasagna to cheesecake.
Famed soprano and fellow Brooklynite Elaine Malbin told us of her early career when she, as a teenager sang with Mario Lanza and the great Viennese tenor Richard Tauber. Malbin recently sang again and scored a triumph!
It was nice to chat with Met Opera soprano legend Elinor Ross, NY Mario Lanza Foundation President Brooklyn’s Bill Ronayne, Executive Director Joe Gasperec, Vice Presidents Philip Hagemann and Janet Stovin, Board member John Metcalfe, conductor Stephen Phebus and his wife actress Linda Howes, patrons Meche Kroop and Doris Keeley, Cavaliere Edward Jackson, the dapper tenor Cesare Santeramo, opera consultant Ken Benson (Brooklyn) and computer maven from Columbia University, George Voorhis. Honorable Vice Consul of Italy, Stephen Acunto and his wife Carole also joined the revelers.
We all feasted on great food, fine wines and warm friendship while we enjoyed hearing the captivating and talented young singers who will keep opera vital and alive in the future.
In above photo: Michael Fennelly, Juan Jose de Leon, James Edgar Knight, Avery Amereau, Nian Wang, Tracy Cox and Murray Rosenthal