Classical Review: JSO Operatic Mixed Bag

Jerusalem Theater, January 9.

Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
As a substitute for the advertised Donizetti opera Lucia di Lammermoor, American tenor Bryan Hymel, Romanian baritone Ionut Pascu and Israeli mezzosoprano Naama Goldman, in the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s opera selection concert last week, were no cause for disappointment.
On the contrary.
Hymel is a lyric tenor par excellence. His voice sounds not only soft and caressing, but also intensely expressive and emotionally moving. He knows perfectly well how to savor a climactic high note, letting it swell gradually, and prolonging it almost imperceptibly to let its impression take effect before allowing it to descend again to the lower registers.
This combination of sheer vocal beauty, conscientious voice culture and awareness of the text’s significance made his Cavaradossi’s aria “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, Don Jose’s Flower Aria from Bizet’s Carmen, and his aria from Turandot, rare artistic experiences.
His rendition of Don Jose’s final duet with Carmen was the concert’s breathtaking highlight, conveying desperation without becoming melodramatic.
Pascu’s dark-timbered, immensely appealing baritone profoundly expressed Rigoletto’s grief in Verdi’s aria.
Goldman’s rather pale mezzo-soprano still sounds too weak for the strongwilled character of Carmen.
More melodramatic than dramatic, and more artificial than artistic, she appears to possess the potential to eventually grow into this demanding role.
Under Frederic Chaslin’s inspired direction the orchestra sounded energetic and enjoyably flexible, and abounding in instrumental soli that were polished with loving care.
Any resemblance of the printed program to the performed pieces was entirely coincidental.