An Afternoon Delight
It was a rainy afternoon outside but the sanctuary was inviting
with its garnet and sapphire stained-glass glowing warmly. Then the music began, making the experience complete.
From the first songs Sound the Trumpet and Let the Bright
Seraphim by G.F. Handel to the final number, this was a delightful recital by sopranos
Ann Cyptar and Patricia Ricciarelli, with Mildred Andrews Young at the piano and
Sean O'Neill, trumpet. On March 16, 2003 at 4 pm we gathered 85-strong at First United Methodist Church in Newport
News' Hilton Village, where Mary Matthews is Director of Vocal Music.
We learned of the recital a week ahead in an e-mail from Ann
Cyptar who introduced herself as Assistant Director of the Voice Center at Eastern Virginia
Medical School "where I diagnose and treat folks with voice disorders/problems." Both she
and Ms. Ricciarelli study with Genevieve McGiffert. Readers of this newsletter had an announcement
soon after. She continued "I can't tell you how many times I've referred to your website.
You folks do a tremendous service to the art song community. My deepest thanks."
Some of our favorite recordings are duets by female vocalists and
live performance is even more exiting. We were regaled by Felix Mendelssohn's In His Hands
(The Ninety-fifth Psalm) and Domine Deus from Mass in C Minor and Sull' aria
(The Letter Aria from The Marriage of Figaro) by Mozart. An absolute show-stopper was a
recitative and duet Sous le dôme épais from Lakmé
by Léo Delibes. The tune is lovely and the vocal blend of these light, sweet soprano voices
was very beautiful.
The very accomplished trumpeter Sean O'Neill is Ms. Ricciarelli's brother and
together they achieved a chamber-like blend in Let the Bright Seraphim.
Later in the program he performed the Trumpet Concerto in D Major by Heinrich Stölzel
(1690-1749) on a Baroque trumpet that has a sound closer to a hunting horn than a
modern trumpet and is fiendishly difficult to play. Later in the program he played Flor Peeter's (1903-) Sonata
for Trumpet & piano, op. 51, second movement (aria) on a modern concert trumpet with Mrs. Young.
Ms. Ricciarelli was soloist in My Dear Marquis from
Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss and Art is Calling for Me from The Enchantress by Victor Herbert. Her delivery
and stage presence well expressed the charm and mischief in the music.
Ms. Cyptar sang the aria The Trees on the Mountain
by Carlisle Floyd (1926-) from his opera Susannah, expresing the innocence and
longing of that young woman.
A set of duets, full of fun and mischief followed: What Can
We Poor Females Do? by Henry Purcell and Die Schwestern of Johannes
Brahms, a song of two sisters who do everything in unison. The last verse reads
"O sisters lovely, How does the next chapter run? You love the very same lover, And
here the story is done!" Rossini's La regata Veneziana sung in Venetian
dialect is of naughty sisters who root for their favorite rowers in the regata as the
piano ripples along.
The program closed with The Prayer, "a crowd-pleaser
that goes down easy." The piano and muted trumpet miked for balance as were the singers, open this
piece written by Sager, Foster, Testa and Renis and made popular by Josh Groban.
The fine piano work by Mildred Andrews Young, now of Williamsburg,
and the playing by Sean O'Neill of Pottstown, PA added to the specialness of the
occasion. The choir members of the church provided an elaborate spread for the
reception that followed. Our thanks to everyone who worked to create this afternoon
The next program in the Life Enrichment Series
at First United Methodist Church will be Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, featuring bass Steve Kelley and
soprano Pat Ricciarelli on Sunday, April 13 at 4 pm.
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