Although the audience was a relatively small one, there was nothing limited about its enthusiastic response to young tenor Anthony Kalil at Temple Beth Am Sunday evening.
Presented by Friends of Chamber Music of Miami, this final concert of the season showcased Kalil’s impressive technical ability and striking range as a performer. A member of the Lindemann Young Artist program at the Metropolitan Opera, Kalil is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. He was accompanied by the Met’s Ken Noda, a formidable and accomplished pianist in his own right.
From the first aria, it was clear that this was a truly collaborative recital. Noda displayed a nuanced and delicate touch in his restrained piano opening to Total Eclipse from Handel’s Samson. In this selection, Kalil’s fine vocal control was plainly evident, shifting seamlessly between a shimmering tone with a hint of metal and a sensitive intimacy.
With its varied moods and textures, Vaughan Williams’ cycle Songs of Travel provided Kalil with an opportunity to display his expressive range. In The Vagabond, his sense of phrasing was impeccable and fluid. The somber, mysterious fifth song of the set, In Dreams, allowed Kalil to showcase a more restrained sound, though his high notes were ringing in the song’s climaxes. His fine tone in the top register was also evident in his full-bodied timbre and heroic delivery of Bright is the Ring of Words, the penultimate song of the cycle, and the last published during Williams’ lifetime.
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After intermission, Kalil to showed a more restrained side in two Italian songs. In Stefano Donaudy’s O del mio amato ben, Kalil floated a plaintive, affecting rendition. Puccini’s Morire, a song later reused as an aria in his La rondine, was a particular crowd-pleaser, with Kalil’s dramatic rendition earning him a vocal ovation from some of the audience members.
Kalil waxed a bit humorous in his performance of the canzone La donna e mobile, from Verdi’s Rigoletto, gesturing to Noda and the audience to emphasize the ironic nature of the number. His rendition of E lucevan le stelle from Puccini’s Tosca was palpably sorrowful, and Noda’s playing here was also notably sensitive.
Kalil began the unaccompanied keening of Jimmy’s Aria from Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in haunting fashion. The young tenor ably brought off the fearful and defiant tone of the aria, navigating Weill’s fickle, changeable harmonies adroitly.
For the close of the concert, Kalil and Noda were joined by soprano Vanessa Isiguen, who reprised her recent Florida Grand Opera lead role in the second cast of Madama Butterfly for the first act love duet. The pair dramatically acted the scene, and Isiguen’s powerful voice matched Kalil’s, especially in the finale of the duet, where their voices intertwined impressively.
The duo are an off-stage couple as well, and the audience was charmed as they closed the duet with a kiss, rewarding all three musicians with a standing ovation and numerous curtain calls.