Miami Lyric Opera offers a mixed “Lucia” at larger downtown venue

By Lawrence Budmen

Karin White stars in the title role of Miami Lyric Opera's "Lucia di Lammermoor."

A sparse but very enthusiastic audience greeted Miami Lyric Opera’s production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor on Saturday night at Gusman Center in downtown Miami. After numerous performance at Miami Beach’s Colony Theater, the company’s new home on Flagler Street proved near ideal for director Raffaele Cardone’s small scale productions. The ornate, somewhat faded grandeur and ample stage come close to the ambience of an opera house and the acoustics reflect voices with plenty of bloom and presence.

In pre-performance remarks, Cardone stated that he puts musical values first above theatrical presentation. Like previous MLO offerings, the production was rather sketchy and thrown together. Musically there was much to admire; yet this Lucia failed to deliver an effective protagonist.

Above all Donizetti’s operatic version of Sir Walter Scott’s tale of doomed lovers from feuding Scottish clans is a vehicle for a gifted singing actress with effortless coloratura. Karin White, a soprano who has sung numerous roles with small companies in the Midwest, lacked both the vocal and dramatic stature for the heroine felled by madness.  While White’s light voice is attractive, she tended to stray from pitch, particularly in the early scenes. This Lucia seemed deranged from the beginning, wandering the stage in a daze. White was at her best in the famous Mad Scene, singing the high trills and coloratura leaps accurately but her acting verged on caricature. In a role that requires a dominant vocal personality, White offered merely a conscientious effort.

The major male roles, however, were all impressively sung. In the late 1980s and early 90s, Jorge Antonio Pita sang regularly at the Vienna State Opera and major European houses. Although he took some time to warm up, Pita still has charisma and real Italianate ring and squillo. He was a passionate Edgardo, singing the final scene with heart rending fervor.

In a costume of gold and black, Nelson Martinez was a regal Lord Enrico Ashton. Martinez’s dark baritone elegantly spun the bel canto lines and he managed to bring some sympathy to Lucia’s conniving brother, avoiding villainous clichés.

Diego Baner’s deep bass was more Germanic sounding than Italianate but he brought authority to the priest Raimondo (too bad the scene between Lucia and Raimondo was omitted). As the short lived bridegroom Arturo, Jesse Vargas sang his cavatina in a fine, well-schooled lyric tenor. With the strong male voices and White hitting her stride, the famous Sextet in Act II was robust and vociferous, stopping the show to prolonged applause.

The 29-piece orchestra often sounded ragged with several wrong entrances but the crucial flute and harp solos were capably played. Despite the chorus being out of sync with the pit at the opening of the wedding scene in Act II, Beverly Coulter adroitly paced the performance, revealing an affinity for the ebb and flow of Donizetti’s melodic lines.

Miami Lyric Opera repeats Lucia di Lammermoor 4 p.m. Sunday at Gusman Center in Miami. 305-674-1040;;

Posted in Performances

7 Responses to “Miami Lyric Opera offers a mixed “Lucia” at larger downtown venue”

  1. Posted Apr 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm by Julie TOdaro

    I have to ask if this reviewer is a singer? Diego Baner is a handsome man and his lowest register had a nice quality. But HE WAS FLAT 90% OF THE TIME!!! He was pushing way to hard which gave him not enough breath to keep in tune, and he had more of a tremolo than a vibrato. He even changed the key at one point. I am shocked of what this reviewer said about him.

    As for Karin White, I do agree that she has an attractive voice and she did a beautiful job in the mad scene (a very difficult aria). I feel her acting was not the best and she would have done well with some staging coaching (what to do with her hands, when to cross stage, etc) but the staging of the whole opera needed work – not just White, and that comes from the Director. The Chorus was in big clumps in the wedding scene and I would guess that they were behind the orchestra because they couldn’t see the director. How could they with the way they were standing? Some had their back to the audience. Who stands is a clump of 10 people at a wedding? Lots could have been done there.

    Also, the review mentioned a few mistakes in the orchestra but never mentioned how LOUD they were. They drowned out the singers consistently through the performance. They need to be quieter (mezzo forte at best) and the director should have lowered their volume early on.

    Martinez, Vargas and Pita were wonderful, a few things here and there some that were mentioned already in the review above, but overall, they were great. There were definitely some more parts of the opera that needed more assistance but I am thrilled that the Lyric Opera has found a home at the most beautiful theater Miami has to offer. What a glorious site. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and I look forward to more that the Olympia Theater at Gusman Hall provides.

    And for the Lyric Opera, I am a professional opera singer myself (never sung with the Lyric but am involved with another company in town), and I am proud of their tremendous efforts and applaud them for their hard work. Keep it up Lyric. YOu’ll get better and better and Miami should support you as a wonderful artistic program offered in our own back yard.

  2. Posted Apr 16, 2012 at 8:07 am by Jeff Haller

    I was at the Sunday matinee and much of what Mr. Budmen writes was accurate, but it isn’t fair to underestimate what Ms. White did offer. The precision of her coloratura is unlike what we are used to hearing today. In fact it was very moving and the conductor was very respectful not to offer tempos that made her rush through it with that unsatisfying sound that has become the norm. This performance was far more satisfying than the recent one at Palm Beach Opera and towered over Florida Grand Opera’s last attempt

  3. Posted Apr 16, 2012 at 11:51 am by Diego Baner

    I don’t usually do this, but the post from Julie Todaro deserves a response. First of all, I took the time to research your name and mysterious career as a professional singer, and I couldn’t find any relevant Opera House or company where you sang. You mentioned that you are a “professional singer”. Without evidence we should dismiss such a statement.

    While I have sang in real opera houses such as Palm Beach Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, Treasure coast opera, Mario del Monaco Foundation, Estate Regina, Montecatini, Italy, The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra in Olomouc, St. Mark’s English Church – Florence Italy, winner of the IBLA international competition , Ragusa Italy, etc…and of course Miami Lyric Opera, and I have in youtube at least 9 live recordings, plus I had my own opera company in Argentina where I myself fully produced La Traviata, with singers like Luis Lima and Matteo Manuguerra, and you can find again theoserecordings in youtube,plus I also produced many concerts in the Palm Beach Area.

    I couldn’t even find one recording in youtube or any other site of you singing as a so called “professional singer”. Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence. The only thing I have found about you is some school education about opera and participation as a board member of some other educational places. I wouldn’t recommend any child to be your student, and that is very clear.

    Secondly, you made clear in your post your ignorance about practically everything. A classical reviewer is a writer, not a singer or musician. It is an expert, a person with a sophisticated and experienced ear that can correctly judge a performance. But that it is not enough. As the “Music Critics Association of North America” states: “to act as an educational medium for the promotion of high standards of music criticism in the press of the Americas”. So we can affirm that it comprises the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of music and its performance. A classical and opera music reviewer is usually someone with a large and deep knowledge about opera, singers, history, composers, librettists, and keeps record like one encyclopedia about performances and singers from the past and present. In other words it is an expert of the subject. We singers are not experts of the subject. As Caruso said, our goal is and should be “not let a day pass without seeing some improvement in my voice and discover something which will make my art more worthy of public acceptance” (from an interview for The Etude).

    A musical reviewer brings the points of a production, singers, orchestra, etc. that can be improved and corrected. A reviewer with his critic actually helps our music community to improve the general quality of the performances. Some times are difficult to digest, but as Albert Einstein said: “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
    Actually the funny and absurdity of your post, is that you took the place or the position of a critic reviewer, and wrote your own review, so your whole post became laughable and absurd.

    Regarding your observation about me singing flat, I should again dismiss completely that statement done without any evidence. I have two recordings. Not one, but two of my participations during the performances. Both were done by sophisticated digital cameras, and I couldn’t find one flat note or lack of air in any part of my singing. Yes, there are always things to improve, and there will always be, because every act is a new lesson. Your personal taste about my voice or any other matter of this production of the Miami Lyric Opera, is really irrelevant to me and to everybody. Some people like Tancredi Pasero, Callas, Corelli or Di Stefano, and some do not. Everybody does have a personal taste in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay. Your criticisms to Miami Lyric Opera regarding some aspects of the acting, sound, movement, orchestra , etc are more than insulting, you without even knowing the backstage work and the budget used to create this production, done with a tremendous effort from everybody and love for the art.

    “It is better to be silent and thought to be ignorant then to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
    ― R. G. Risch

  4. Posted Apr 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm by Julie TOdaro

    Let me say first off that it was not my intention to offend and as a singer, I know how hard it is to read reviews. You don’t have to care about what I say (as you stated). And if you got a good laugh, well at least you got something out of it. it was my opinion and I stand by it. I was sad to see what was said about Ms. White and I just couldn’t let that be. She was much better that portrayed. We all have our preferences but I DO have enough of a professional background to offer my thoughts – even if it felt like a review to you. I actually have a degree in Vocal Performance (in Opera), have sung for a number a years under my stage name and yes, there are recordings of me. But I am sure you were looking so you could shoot back at me and try to be hurtful — which wasn’t my intention at all. I stand by my thoughts but I’ve been reminded what is truly important – to remember how hard it is to be in this business and really, in this world it’s better to be supportive of each other than offer hurtful (even if it wasn’t meant to be). We all grow and learn with each step we take in life . I wish everyone the best of luck.

  5. Posted Apr 17, 2012 at 11:39 am by Karin White

    My mother in law (who I was very close to) died rather unexpectedly last week and I flew to her funeral in PA the Friday right before the opening show. I wanted to pull out completely when she died but Dr. Coulter encouraged me to stay with it for the sake of the company.

    Classical Music is obviously in trouble and those of us who love it and love to share it should try to point out the positives and encourage others to go support opera and the arts. I’m not saying reviews should be all positive….but in all honesty Mr. Budmen….I did some very nice singing, and it would have been nice if you had pointed out some of the positives in my performance.
    I did the best I could under VERY trying emotional and physical stress.

    Reading all of the above…can we all have some class and elegance? I studied for years with Shirley Verrett when she was at University of Michigan. She taught me to hold my head high and do the best I could. If we want people to come see Classical performances…we all need to treat each other with more respect.


  6. Posted Apr 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm by Raffaele Cardone

    I always have a great respect with reviewer and critics. Is their opinion and respectable one. Nevertheless to use terms such as “ridiculous” to any performing artist capable of facing a stage, it seem to me not exactly of good taste.
    Respect to an artist is a value that we all must preserve. Let it keep it as such.

  7. Posted Apr 19, 2012 at 8:35 am by Diego Baner

    Julie Torado, now you are saying: “in this world it’s better to be supportive of each other than offer hurtful”. And that was exactly my point. Even if I don’t care about your opinion, if someone comes in public to attack a whole production the way you did it, from the choir, to the orchestra, conductor, me, and even making fun about the wedding with only 10 people, it is kind of hard to stay silent. Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception, but I think that knowledge is much important. All the best.

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Sun Apr 15, 2012
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