David Clenny’s West Side Opera Society is giving four semi-staged concert performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s grand opera “Un Ballo in Maschera” (the Masked Ball, 1859), over the course of three December weekends, from December 4 to 18, at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan,, to benefit Trinity Place LGBTQ youth shelter—an ambitious undertaking for a small company indeed—but with Clenny wielding the piano like a full orchestra and leading an exceptional cast, the endeavor is yielding satisfying results. The opening night “Ballo” is considered here.
Soprano Julia Ann Milin, as Amelia, and mezzo-soprano Galina Ivanakova, as Ulrica, displayed big, glorious Verdi voices in the Golden Age tradition. Milin proffered sensational accounts of “Ecco l’orrido campo … Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa;” the ensuing duet with tenor Michael Celentano—making a worthy contribution as Riccardo/Gustavo III—and trio with Celentano and Nobuki Momma—a sturdy Renato with a flexible baritone, boasting a strong top—as well as a moving “Morrò, ma prima in grazia.” Remember Milin’s name—she’s a soprano that should come to have a major career in dramatic and spinto roles, an Aida, a Sieglinde, and more. Ivanakova gave us such a powerful “Re dell’abisso … È lui, è lui! ne’ palpiti,” her mezzo even from bottom to top, that one regretted that she had only the single scene. There was some discussion, that evening, of an “Aida” starring Milin and Ivanakova, and that is something that should definitely happen.
Alison Tynes made a sprightly Oscar, who interpolated high E natural, sailing out over all, at the end of the final ensemble of the first act, and ornamented the second verse of “Saper vorreste,” in the third, in the style of Luisa Tetrazzini in the early 20th century. Basses Joseph V. Pierone and Hector Mori anchored the cast as conspirators Tom/Count Horn and Samuel/Count Ribbing. Amadeo Pabon played the sailor Silvano/Cristiano and John Kim, the chief magistrate.
Most roles are double cast for the run, with the exceptions of Riccardo, which is quadruple cast, and Ulrica and Renato, which are sung by Ivanakova and Momma throughout. Remaining performances, at this writing, take place on December 6 and 13 at 5 p.m. and 18 at 7 p.m. A $20 donation to Trinity Place is requested. Trinity Lutheran is located at 164 West 100th Street. For further information, visit www.trinitylutherannyc.org
or telephone 212/222-7045.