The newest members of Boston Opera Collaborative made their public debuts with the company in an intimate concert on Saturday at the Museum of the Modern Renaissance in Somerville, showcasing the talent that this opera singer collective continues to attract and draw upon in its eighth year of operations.
Each of the eight new members (a ninth was scheduled but detained elsewhere) presented one aria inside the lushly decorated Great Hall. One tenor, three mezzo-sopranos, and four sopranos made their debuts in this fashion with assistance from the pianist Yukiko Oba. Following the formal concert, guests were invited to a reception downstairs to meet the singers.
The music began with a spirited performance by tenor Salvatore Atti of “Questa o quella” from Rigoletto. Atti’s high-energy was balanced by moments of subtlety and nuance that added welcome shadings to a song that is often delivered more shallowly. His take recalled a turn as Don Ottavio in a Boston Conservatory production two years prior, when Atti managed to make the traditionally starched character come across as more rounded and sympathetic.
Mezzo-soprano Kaitlin Bertenshaw, a recent addition to Boston by way of Sarasota Opera and the Chautauqua Institute appeared next with an interpretation of Strauss’s “Wie du warst” from Der Rosenkavalier which showed a strong command of the rolling emotional currents of the aria a paean of love. Her rich lower and middle registers had a particular shine in the Great Hall’s unusual acoustic.
“Bester Jüngling” from Mozart’s less well-known Der Schauspieldirektor (“The Impressario”) was soprano Sarah Shechtman’s introductory vehicle. In the opera, the aria is used diegetically to demonstrate the character’s skill as a singer, a task for which it also served well at in this concert. Although here the acoustics of the Great Hall did Shechtman no favors, with the canvas-clad walls eliminating the room’s reverb and dampening higher notes, this was a challenge that she (and her fellow singers) navigated well.
No such acoustic masks troubled the two following arias, respectively by mezzo-sopranos Heather Gallagher and Krista Laskwoski. Gallagher, who appeared in MetroWest Opera’s production of Carmen last spring, was arresting in “O pallida che un giorno” from Mascagni’s L’ Amico Fritz. Laskowski, a recent arrival from Indiana, tackled Rossini’s “Cruda sorte” from L’Italiana in Algieri, ably navigating the contrasting styles and moods in the cavatina, and adding an engaging zest to its more playful passages.
Soprano Beibei Guan introduced herself by way of the Jewel Song (“Ah, je ris de me voir”) from Gounod’s Faust. Her subtle but effective use of physicality and movement greatly enhanced her singing, helping to convey the unfolding wonder and flights of fancy that Marguerite experiences. The Great Hall was not great enough for her powerful voice.
An entirely opposite mood infused the following piece, “Glück, das mir verbleib” from Korngold’s Die tote Stadt. Here, soprano Robyn Lamp navigated the change by walking onstage in full character, establishing the atmosphere well before the first note sounded on the piano. Following the piano interlude in the middle of this duet-cum-aria, she displayed a wonderful covered sound that blossomed richly as the music ascended.
The final outing came with a spirited delivery by soprano Elizabeth Kinder of “Zapateado” from Gimènez’s La Tempranica. This zarzuela piece is a lively patter song requiring fast delivery and excellent diction, both of which were well supplied to bring the evening to an energetic close.