CCM alumna Joelle Harvey recently starred in New York City Opera’s production of Telemann’s “Orpheus,” singing the role of Eurydice. Harvey, who holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in vocal performance from CCM, was also mentioned in a New York Times review of the production and was praised by Times writer Anthony Tommasini for her “bright, agile soprano” and “winsome presence.”
April 30, 2012
Review from L’elisir d’amore opening at Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia
By David Patrick Stearns
When The Elixir of Love raised its frivolous head on the Post a comment Academy of Vocal Arts season, one had to remember that this organization functions to train singers for the real world, which can mean making something out of very little. Comedian Artie Lange writes about In the up-and-down opera world, singers never know when they’ll end up in a revival of, say, The Pajama Game to make ends meet.
But such a low opinion of The Elixir of Love was defied, possibly smashed, from the first moments of AVA’s Saturday opening. In the tiny Warden Theater, where productions are best regarded as sketches of the real thing, here was a handsome set that appeared to have suffered no compromise. Costumes were stylish. Wigs fit! An updated concept placed the opera in Mussolini’s Italy in World War II, giving it new life.
The director was Nic Muni, a seasoned innovator who ran the Cincinnati Opera for years and often works with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. His contention is that Elixir was intended to have serious underpinnings — composer Gaetano Donizetti called the 1832 opera buffa a melodramma giocoso — and, in any case, gave deeper motivation to the simple plot about a boy seeking a girl with a fake love potion. In this production, when the stereotypical minx Adina appears to be spurning the bumpkin who loves her, she’s actually saving him from execution by a jealous, well-armed Blackshirt. Such touches counted for a lot. The opera went from being casually formulaic to purposely lightweight.
The oddest part: AVA’s latest star in the making, mezzo-soprano Margaret Mezzacappa, was very much seen but very seldom heard. The setting was a library, and in a role seemingly created for this production, Mezzacappa was the stern librarian who not only dominated the room but, amid the happy ending, seemed to end up with a guy of her own. This created an implied secondary romantic plot that was obligatory in 1950s Broadway musicals, and for a reason: It takes a bit of weight off leading characters who may be too stereotypical to really carry an entire opera. And what a fascinating opportunity for her to create a character using everything but her primary strength.
Of course, this opera wouldn’t be done at all were it not a good vocal showcase. And the big discovery, for me, was soprano Sydney Mancasola in the leading role of Adina. She’s a classic soubrette with a voice that’s bright, focused, accurate, and projects an air of effortlessness, partly thanks to the solidity of her vocal technique, partly due to her comfort level onstage. She sashayed around as if she owned the place. And she did.
The other principal singers were promising but not at home in this genre. Though Luigi Boccia delivered the goods in Nemorino’s famous Act II aria, “Una Furtiva Lagrima,” his promising lyric tenor perhaps has a bit too much meat for
this type of bel canto opera. Much the same could be said for Wes Mason as his rival Belcore and Musa Ngqungwana as Dr. Dulcamara, the elixir salesman, though it’s hard to imagine anybody minding amid such a satisfying overall package. One would be lucky if any future Elixir encounters are this good. A small but chronic problem: The AVA chorus is made up of divas and divos in training, and they don’t exactly stay in the background. Given a chance, they steal focus.
From cincinnati.com – Arts in Focus
by Janelle Gelfand
Former Cincinnati resident Malcolm Fraser, 72, passed away on May 15th in Stockport, England, of natural causes relating to long term health issues stemming from a hematologic disorder.
Mr. Fraser was a prominent figure in the Cincinnati Arts community, primarily relating to his work at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati, where he was the CCM Opera department chair and holder of the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair in Opera, 1985 to 2003. Under his leadership the CMM Opera department won numerous prestigious awards, including 26 awards from the National Opera Association for the best college opera productions in North America, and he inspired and helped many people in the pursuit of their operatic careers.
In 1996 he was a co-founder with Lorenzo Malfatti, a former CCM faculty member, of Opera Theatre of Lucca, CCM’s operatic study abroad program in Lucca, Italy. Singers, instrumentalists, coaches, designers and production staff were overseen by an international faculty in the most comprehensive summer opera program in Italy.
Singers who honed their craft during his 18 years at CCM follow Mr. Fraser’s predecessors from the Italo Tajo generation and are working all over North America and Europe. Currently, CCM artists are working in the following companies (in many cases three or four with each company): Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Orlando Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Seattle Opera, Skylight Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Portland Opera, Canadian Opera, Vienna State Opera, Kassel Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Lucerne Opera, Karlsruhe Opera, Dusseldorf Opera and many more.
After he retired in 2003, he moved back to England.
In 1979, Mr. Fraser was a co-founder of the Buxton Festival, an international celebration of the arts held in Buxton, England.
He loved opera and spent his entire career advancing himself in that field and helping to spread his passion to others. He encouraged his students and colleagues to take risks and have fun with the art form that he enjoyed so much.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Fay Conway-Fraser, his four sons Dom, Sam, Hal and Tim, eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and others. He was a dedicated family man who balanced his enthusiasm for opera with his commitment to and love for his wife, four sons and ever-growing family. He will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues, and will be remembered as a generous and passionate man.
His funeral will be held at 11am on Tuesday May 29th at St John the Baptist church in Tideswell, Derbyshire, England.
Countertenor John Holiday, baritone José Rubio and mezzo-soprano Caitlin Mathes will all be featured as principle artists on a recording of Philip Glass’s Galilieo Galilei. The recording is a joint endeavor by Portland Opera and Orange Mountain Music.
Click here to read more about this new recording.
Thursday May 10th, 8:00pm
Saturday May 12th, 8:00pm
Sunday May 13th, 2:00pm
For additional information or to purchase tickets,
please visit the CCM Box Office: