Review: Cantanti Project's Alcina

A review of Alcina from Classical Singer's Auditions Plus:

 Joyce as morgana with tara Gruszkiewicz as bradamante. photo credit: samer ghanem.

Joyce as morgana with tara Gruszkiewicz as bradamante. photo credit: samer ghanem.

I was fortunate to see a performance in 2015, of early music arias and scenes, and the very enchanting and successful Alcina. All the singers I saw and heard in both productions seemed to be well trained and of high quality. Although Alcina was done on a church alter, the simple scenery and creative costuming, lighting acting, singing, and orchestra made for a very professional production. Laura Mitchell, Alcina, sang with amazing expertise and beauty, and was extremely captivating and interesting as the enchantress. The rest of the cast, Joyce Yin, Morgana; Tara Gruszkiewicz, Bradamante; Grant Mech, Melisso; Rachel Selan, Ruggiero; Barbara Porto, Oberto; John Villemaire, Oronte; Jonathan Suttmiller, Lion; sang and acted their parts beautifully and creatively. 

Full review below and on Classical Singer's Auditions Plus


Posted on March 18, 2016 by Auditions Plus

With small opera companies dwindling in New York City because of lack of funding, it is unusual to see a small company spring up, survive, and grow. The Cantanti Project has defied these odds and recently presented a fully staged production of Handel’s Alcinaon February 28, 2016.
 
Begun in 2015, the newly formed company, began with a small group of all female singers who performed a program of Strauss lieder and opera in Washington Heights, NYC at Holyrood Church. Holyrood Church is the home base of the Washington Heights Musical Society, which presents a series of concerts and educational projects inspired by music in history. The concert series aims to promote local musicians and ensembles in upper Manhattan.
 
Artistic Director, Joyce Yin, a fine singer herself, founded Cantanti Project on “the idea that singers are capable and responsible for actively creating as musicians, educators, innovators, and collaborators.” The groups mission is to support the development of emerging artists and build communities through music. Joyce was helped with this mission by several close friends who are musicians and supporters. They include: Sam Fujii, General Manager – singer, actor, educator, and Joyce’s boyfriend and confidante; Laura Mitchell, Operations Manager – singer, technology and projects management specialist, and a long time friend of Joyce; Kayte Zhang, Engagement and Development Associate – singer, costumer, and another of Joyce’s close friends; Bill Lewis, Principal Music Advisor – vocal coach, pianist, singer and Joyce’s own vocal coach.
 
This small group’s hard work and mutual respect for each other, allowed Cantanti Project to progress from doing opera arias and scenes to a fully staged production of Handel’s Alcina, which is no easy undertaking. They also progressed from little to no funding and just piano accompaniment, to being sponsored by Fractured Atlas,a public charity for artists and arts organizations, and being accompanied by The Dorian Baroque Orchestra.
 
I was fortunate to see a performance in 2015, of early music arias and scenes, and the very enchanting and successful Alcina. All the singers I saw and heard in both productions seemed to be well trained and of high quality. Although Alcina was done on a church alter, the simple scenery and creative costuming, lighting acting, singing, and orchestra made for a very professional production. Laura Mitchell, Alcina, sang with amazing expertise and beauty, and was extremely captivating and interesting as the enchantress. The rest of the cast, Joyce Yin, Morgana; Tara Gruszkiewicz, Bradamante; Grant Mech, Melisso; Rachel Selan, Ruggiero; Barbara Porto, Oberto; John Villemaire, Oronte; Jonathan Suttmiller, Lion; sang and acted their parts beautifully and creatively. Stage direction was by Antigoni Gaitana, with musical preparation by William Lewis. It was conducted by James Bates.
 
Cantanti Project will present its eighth project on April 17, 2016. More details can be found at www.cantantiproject.org.

This article was written by Janette Goleme, singer/actor, voice and piano teacher, and has run and directed several of her own light opera groups over the years. She has also written music and art reviews for the Woodbridge, NJ Patch and two articles for Classical Singer Magazine.