November 30, 2021

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Assessment: Two Tenors. Many, Many Excessive Notes.

Review: Two Tenors. Many, Many High Notes.

Followers of N.F.L. RedZone — the TV channel that whips across the nation every Sunday throughout soccer season to point out you, it guarantees, “each landing from each recreation” — can have felt a well-recognized sensation on Wednesday on the 92nd Avenue Y.

There, with the tenors Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres belting out Rossini as if their lives trusted it, the viewers bought what Brownlee referred to as from the stage the “barnstormers” of the bel canto repertory — and solely the barnstormers. Out the window have been the plots, the characters, the units. What was left was an operatic RedZone: the very best stakes, the very best notes — we’re speaking as much as E flat or F over C — time and again, in dizzying profusion.

This was lots of enjoyable, significantly as a result of Brownlee and Spyres are two of the best, most sky-scraping bel canto tenors on the planet in the present day — although, whereas Brownlee has lengthy been a Metropolitan Opera star, the astonishing Spyres has just occasionally appeared in New York.

Their rousing current duo album, “Amici e Rivali,” from which the Y program was tailored, posits them because the inheritors of two distinct Rossinian traditions. Brownlee, his tone slender and silvery, sounds (we think about) one thing like Giovanni David; Spyres, with a voice beefier and extra baritonal, although no much less agile, evokes Andrea Nozzari, with whom David usually confronted off onstage within the early nineteenth century. (Having a number of main tenor roles in a single opera was commonplace with this composer.)

In live performance as on the album, the principle joys have been the rarities, from the likes of the Crusades drama “Ricciardo e Zoraide” and the Tudor potboiler “Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra.” The duet “Donala a questo core” from “Ricciardo” was an exciting mixture of slow-burning lyrical verses and fiery shared coloratura.

I want that the Y program had adopted “Amici e Rivali” and included extra from “Ricciardo” and fewer from “The Barber of Seville.” The live performance’s lengthy opening sequence from that chestnut did show that Spyres may deal with the baritone position of Figaro, and his well-known “Largo al factotum,” with tongue-twisting, very-low-to-very-high aplomb; not for nothing is his new solo album referred to as “Baritenor.”

However Brownlee wasn’t confirmed off finest in Depend Almaviva’s thanklessly glittering “Cessa di più resistere,” whereas a six-hand piano transcription of the “Barber” overture — with the night’s recreation accompanist, Myra Huang, joined by Thomas Lausmann and Bryan Wagorn — appeared extra enjoyable for the gamers than the viewers. (And apart from to present these poor guys and their cords a relaxation, and to burden Huang nonetheless extra, nobody wanted one other overture transcription, of the one from “Guillaume Inform,” afterward.)

The 2 singers every bought a stand-alone quantity from Rossini’s pleasant track repertory, with Spyres significantly melting and burnished within the passionate “L’Esule.” And a closing suite from “Otello” — very completely different than Verdi’s model — discovered each in wealthy, fluent voice within the arias “Che ascolto?” (Brownlee) and “Ah! sì, per voi gia sento” (Spyres) and the explosive duet “Ah! vieni, nel tuo sangue.”

I want we had gotten a style of the French Rossini, offered on the album via “Le Siège de Corinthe.” However that language did arrive within the type of an encore interloper by Donizetti: the unavoidable showpiece “Ah! mes amis” from “La Fille du Régiment,” with Brownlee and Spyres gleefully buying and selling off the infamous, quite a few excessive C’s.

Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres

Carried out on Wednesday on the 92nd Avenue Y, Manhattan.

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