On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Opera presented a concert of arias and opera scenes, featuring artists in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, as well as star soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and Los Angeles Artistic Director and legendary tenor, Placido Domingo. Celebrating its 10 year anniversary, the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program offers two to three years training and residency for singers and pianists. Saturday’s performance offered a peek at young artists promising major careers.
The program was inspired, featuring scenes from many operas that are rarely heard in LA. The performance began with Radvanovsky singing “Mercè, dilette amiche” from Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani. It took Radvanovsky a while to warm up, but she was on fire when she sang her duet with Domingo from Simon Boccanegra. Radvanovsky does not have conventionally beautiful voice, but she possesses an usually large sound, full of expression and color. She was heartbreaking in “Senza mamma” from Puccini’s Suor Angelica, a role I was privileged to see her perform in LA to great acclaim. Opera stars and real life married couple, Diana Damrau and Nicolas Testé are appearing in LA Opera’s The Tales of Hoffmann and were originally scheduled to perform at Saturday’s concert. Unfortunately, both were forced to cancel due to illness.
But the exciting young talent onstage more than made up for the cancellations. Young standouts were soprano Liv Redpath singing from Don Pasquale, bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee in excerpts from La Tempestad and I Puritani, tenor Brenton Ryan from The Ghosts of Versailles, and soprano Hyesang Park in Lucia di Lammermoor. House favorites, tenor Joshua Guerrero and soprano So Young Park also made strong impressions.
And what more can be said about superstar Placido Domingo? Now 76, he is a miracle, conducting most of Saturday night’s selections and singing in the others. Years ago, he switched to baritone roles and has retained much of his tonal beauty and size. He was moving in duets from Simon Boccanegra and The Pearl Fishers, and hilarious in The Merry Widow. Whether or not he sounds like a baritone is up for a debate, but there is no doubt that he sounds like a star.