Musical pair's concert strikes the right notes

January 13, 1995|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

Last Friday evening I had a terrific time, courtesy of the good folks at the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association.

Onstage at Severna Park High School were Stephen and Carol Kechulius, as young, attractive and musical a married couple as you'd ever hope to meet.

Stephen Kechulius is a deep, dramatic baritone who has given more than 250 solo recitals and performed with many of the country's best regional opera companies.

Carol Kechulius is a former Miss Colorado with degrees in piano from the Juilliard School and a host of solo recitals and orchestral appearances on her distinguished resume.

Together, as the cliche goes, they made beautiful music in a fast-paced concert that moved from Broadway to opera to a final celebration of American music.

Mr. Kechulius is most at home in the operatic repertoire. His three arias from Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Bizet's "Carmen" and Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" were the high point of the evening. He is a legitimate dramatic baritone. His Mozart was elegantly phrased, and he conveyed a wonderfully macho, cocky stage presence in Escamillio's famous "Toreador" aria from "Carmen."

The clincher, though, was a throbbing "Eri Tu" from "Un Ballo" -- a ringing and wringing aria sung as the hero Renato realizes all is lost with his beloved wife Amelia.

Mr. Kechulius also has the measure of Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs," though I missed "The Boatmen's Dance," which, for some reason, he elected not to sing.

He is less convincing in the Broadway realm, where his phrasing becomes a bit stilted and his characterizations a bit off. His hyperactive Tevye, for example, seems to owe more to Barry Fitzgerald than to any Ukrainian Jew I've ever heard.

Still, his "How to Handle a Woman" from "Camelot" was especially lovely, made all the more poignant by the presence of his wife accompanying him at the keyboard.

Ms. Kechulius was also a delight as a soloist, particularly in the snappy "Excursions" of Samuel Barber and a suitably cute reading of Mozart's "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman" variations, an adorable set of musical permutations set, of all things, to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

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