An afternoon at the opera

The Delaware Valley Opera thrills with a selection of opera classics

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 8/5/21

CALLICOON, NY - The Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) started their season strong, with a delightful concert of selections from operetta classics.

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An afternoon at the opera

The Delaware Valley Opera thrills with a selection of opera classics

Posted

CALLICOON, NY — The Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) started their season strong, with a delightful concert of selections from operetta classics. The company went from strength with their second production, a concert of opera excerpts titled "Lovers! Liars! Libertines!"

For the start of their 2021 season, while the DVO waits to move into their new home at the former Nutshell building in Lake Huntington, the company is performing concerts of operatic excerpts rather than staging full productions, performances that take place in the Haypress Barn at the Callicoon Hills Resort. The simple staging of the company's current productions including "Lovers! Liars! Libertines" allows the power of the music—and of the singers—to take center stage. 

The show's five-person cast dazzled in a variety of powerhouse numbers from operas both classic and modern. 

Tenor Tshombe Shelby stole the show, sparkling in a number of roles and styles. Of particular note was his performance as the Duke from Verdi's "Rigoletto," where he held the aria La donna e mobile in the palm of his hand, delighting with a carefree swagger and seduction, and his showstopping performance of There's a Boat from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."

Soprano Kelsey Watts shone with an endlessly versatile tone, smoothly imposing in Summertime from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," rich and clear in numbers from Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte." Her duets with Selby (as Mimi and Rodolfo respectively, from Puccini's "La Boheme") were as much conversations as they were works of art, their singing as clear and well-characterized as speech, the beauty of their voices bringing tears to the eye (at least, to this reviewer's eye). 

Mezzo Soprano Rachel Abrams brought a warm vibrancy and gorgeous richness to Mozart, Verdi and Bernstein alike, providing an especially beautiful sereneness to Bernstein's aria from "Trouble in Tahiti", There is a garden; baritone Robert Flora's silken voice and rounded tone rang beautifully throughout the production; base-baritone Mark Cotton's commanding presence brought power to each of his performances, most notably as a pleading Rigoletto from Verdi's opera of the same name. 

The performance was supported by Jeremy Chan on piano, who handled a range of musical styles and eras with ease and elegance, and by music director Matthew Rupcich. Carol Castel was the performance's director, and provided commentary explaining each of the numbers in turn. 

The Delaware Valley Opera returns August 14th and 15th with "Divas! Dolly! Done me wrong!", a production by the Opera Cowgirls blending opera, country and rock. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to www.myrivertickets.com/organizations/delaware-valley-opera.

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