Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts
By Henry C. Mayer

Kentucky Opera's 1997-98 "Lunch and Listen" Season Preview Delights

The popularity of Kentucky Opera's "Lunch and Listen" hit a new high in its preview of the coming season: two sessions had to be scheduled. KO Education Director Robin Stamper and his associates gave us nifty previews of selections from next season's performances. The beauty was in both the music and the artistic performance of it.

What made it so stirring was that the artists' performances brought new life to both the words and music. I had heard all these numbers before but it was like I had never heard them before!

For example, Melinda Cumberledge and Douglas Biggs let us live the unforgettable emotions of Violetta and Alfredo in Verdi's continuing favorite, "La Traviata." There one could hear passion, uncertainty, a sense of unavoidable tragedy and joy.

If ever there was any doubt that Mozart was a genius at portraying the various human emotions and passions, the four selections from "The Magic Flute" erases them all. Four remarkable interpretations from four distinct personalities in four distinct emotional circumstances – each work was ample evidence of genius.

One of them seated next to me at lunch before the program started gave me a fresh approach to listening to opera. She reminded me that each character in an opera is unique and I would do well to be aware of that before beginning to listen.

Puccini's "Tosca" is the opera I have heard most frequently but dramatic tenor Douglas Biggs etched a very special spot in my musical book of memory. His rendition of Cavaradossi's "The stars were shining brightly" let me feel the artist's impending tragedy as never before.

But not all great vocal music was written before this century. Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" may sound differently than the earlier melodies but it too is unforgettable. Michelle Vought achieved a triumph with "Glitter and Be Gay."

It's going to be an unforgettable season.