Young artists make stronger team in FGO’s second-cast “Cosi”

By Lawrence Budmen

Hailey Clark, Carla Jablonski,  Daniel Bates and lsaac Bray star in the second cast of FGO's "Cosi fan tutte." Photo: Lorne Grandison

Hailey Clark, Carla Jablonski, Daniel Bates and lsaac Bray star in the second cast of FGO’s “Cosi fan tutte.” Photo: Lorne Grandison

On the opera stage, sheer talent and youthful enthusiasm can sometimes overcome limited professional experience. Such is the case with the second cast of Florida Grand Opera’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. At the Sunday matinee before a packed house at the Arsht Center, five singers from the company’s young artist program managed to project a sense of ensemble spirit and comedic flair that were too often lacking in the opening-night cast.

Joined by the seasoned Don Alfonso of Arthur Woodley, who is singing in all performances, the youthful artists (who had obviously been thoroughly coached in their roles) exuded confidence and theatrical aplomb. The singers in the three female roles dominated the performance. From their initial duet Hailey Clark and Carla Jablonski as the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella blended wonderfully in song, Mozart’s long-spun melodies providing a fine showcase for their distinctive timbres and technical security.

Clark imbued Fiordiligi with real emotions rather than the caricature of a prima donna. Most importantly she can rise to the role’s vocal challenges. She brought energy, fervor and dramatic passion to Fiordiligi’s “Come scoglio” and “Per pietà, ben mio.” Her strong low tones, fine projection and ease in coloratura passages propelled the ensembles as well as solo showpieces. Clark is a very promising soprano.

Jablonski’s creamy mezzo sound and sizable voice were matched by a vibrant stage personality. This Dorabella was formidable, no easy pushover for the romantic entreaties of the disguised Guglielmo. Unfortunately Ramon Tebar’s funereal tempo undercut the delicately balanced duo of Jablonski and Issac Bray in the Act II Dorabella-Guglielmo duet.

Rebecca Henriques was a charming Despina. Henriques, a Miami native, was impressive in widely varied repertoire when she was a student at the University of Miami’s Frost Opera Theater program. Her lively, rapid-fire recitatives strongly etched the scheming maid’s playfulness. An exquisite high register and lovely light soprano sound channeled character and finesse to Despina’s arias.

Daniel Bates was an ardent Ferrando. While the young tenor’s upper register needed greater strength and consistency, he sang “Un’ aura amorosa” beautifully, the soft high tones accurate and perfectly placed. Bray’s light baritone and larger-than-life persona are a great fit for operatic comedy and he brought real impact to Guglielmo’s mock heroic outbursts in the second act.

Florida Grand Opera presents Così fan tutte through January 31 at the Arsht Center in Miami and February 12 and 14 at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale,. Hailey Clark, Carla Jablonski, Rebecca Henriques, Daniel Bates and Isaac Bray sing in the January 30 and February 14 performances.; 800-741-1010.

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Tue Jan 27, 2015
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