Stylish voices lift `Lakme'

BOC production ends Sunday

Opera Review

October 11, 2002|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

The musical enticements of Leo Delibes' Lakme were reconfirmed Wednesday night as the Baltimore Opera Company continued its season-opening production. The scenery looked just as lackluster, the stage direction just as uninspired, but some vocal sparks onstage offered considerable compensation.

Youngouk Shin revealed admirable sensitivity in the title role, both in her singing and in her characterization. She made a valiant effort to give Lakme genuine depth; this was no super-cliched bit of exotica. Here was an Indian priestess very much troubled by the awakening of love and the resultant, unavoidable betrayal of her sacred duty.

The soprano's voice, while a little metallic around the edges, exuded plenty of warmth. Coloratura challenges were met with confidence and tonal solidity. Opportunities for lyrical expansiveness, fully supported by conductor Alberto Veronesi, inspired exceptional beauty of phrasing.

Fernando de la Mora, as Gerald, paid great attention to dynamic nuances; lovely, soft notes and bright, ringing ones poured out with more or less equal ease from his basically attractive tenor. I wish he could have produced an even wider range of tonal coloring, but it was hard to complain. This was very stylish singing. The acting, though, didn't get beyond the routine.

The rest of the cast was the same as heard last Sunday. No surprises there, though Alfredo Zanazzo's bass sounded drier and more monochromatic than it had then (matching his determinedly wooden stage movements). The dancers for the Act 2 ballet fulfilled their assignment ably enough.

Veronesi was again a major asset. Synchronization between stage and pit wasn't always dead-on, but his conducting kept the performance flowing with vitality and grace.

Lakme, with Shin and de la Mora in the leading roles, will have two more performances at the Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave. - 8:15 p.m. today, 3 p.m. Sunday Tickets are $40 to $135. Call 410-727-6000.

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