Sopranos come and go but there’s something special about a soprano who wins the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
On Monday night at The College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts and as part of the Renaissance Musical Arts series, soprano Nadine Sierra, the 2009 winner of the Met Auditions, sang a joint recital with tenor Adam Bonanni.
It was a remarkable display of young vocal prowess.
Sierra at 23 has been making history for several years, often being the youngest to win awards or various other prizes. This includes the Met Auditions.
Her performance on Monday before a small crowd was like witnessing the start of what will be an exceptional career. Without doubt, she will have garlands thrown at her feet.
She already has complete control of a lustrously big voice with effortless high notes that she loves to sustain and a convincing ability to convey a character’s emotions within the context of each aria.
Bonanni is no less able. Currently a senior at the Mannes College, Bonanni’s voice is a dramatic tenor with great strength and capacity of a ringing volume and range. All that he seems to lack is acting ability.
Except for his few duets with Sierra in which he showed some animation and a solo aria or two, Bonanni relied mostly on just standing and delivering golden tones and fluid lines.
They sang some of the most famous arias in opera and despite the language, each displayed immaculate diction. Their pianist, Carol Wong, was sympathetic, sensitive to balances and poised.
Bonanni began with Handel’s “Where’er you walk” from “Semele,” and showed off his big ringing top notes and finished phrases. His “Dies bildnis” from Mozart’s “Die Zauberfloete” was cautious. Experience will allow him to let those phrases fly with more lightness and speed. Sierra was poignant in “Ach ich fuehls” from the same opera.
Bonanni returned with an impressive “Un’aura amorosa” from Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte.” In “Caro nome” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Sierra showed an agile coloratura and a stylish interpretation. The way she spun out those high notes was thrilling and marvelous. In Gounod’s “Ah! je veux vivre” from “Romeo et Juliette” she sang with a joyous abandon that was breathtaking.
Their voices blended well in the “Ange adorable” duet from the same Gounod opera.
Bonanni’s best solo aria of the evening was “Kuda, kuda vi udalilis” from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” He invigorated his dramatic voice with passion and intensity, which suited the beautiful melody and dark harmonies. Sierra’s “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s “Tosca” was exceptional as were the three arias the two singers sang from Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore.”
For encores: Bonanni sang “Dal labbro il canto” from Verdi’s “Falstaff” with ringing high notes. Sierra wowed everyone with “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s “Gianni Schichi.”