Florentine showcases romantic variety with “That’s Amore”

The company's four Studio Artists take center stage to perform love songs from across the Western canon.

By - Feb 7th, 2013 04:00 am

The Florentine Opera hopes to get Milwaukee into the spirit of Valentine’s Day with That’s Amore, a recital of love songs from various sources and traditions performed by the Florentine’s Studio Artists: soprano Alisa Suzanne Jordheim, mezzo Kristin DiNinno, tenor Kevin Newell, and baritone Carl Frank.

This is the Florentine’s fifth year of the Florentine Opera Studio Artist program, and the second year performing a Valentine Day’s concert. Like last year’s performance, this year’s recital highlights the up-and-coming singers and showcases their abilities in a way different than in the Florentine’s operas.

The set list focuses on selections from the American Songbook, with solos and ensemble pieces from film, jazz and opera. General director William Florescu says audiences can anticipate a range and variety of works, from arias from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to The Sandpiper’s “Shadow of Your Smile”.

“Some of the arrangements would remind you a little more of The Manhattan Transfer, and then there are things that are a little more operatic,” Florescu said. “We purposefully do it that way so it has a broad popular appeal but at the same time allows the singers to show off their vocal abilities.”


The Florentine’s 2012-13 Studio Artists (from top, clockwise): Carl Frank, Keith Newell, Alisa Suzanne Jordheim, Kristin DiNinno.

Much of the decisions in song selection for That’s Amore are based on the Studio Artists’ strengths. Florescu and choral master Scott Stewart take the singers’ repertoires into account and combine that with what fits their vocal type. That goes for ensemble pieces as well, with the artists’ interlocking skill sets deciding which groupings to strive for. “I think people love to see singers sing together and so we sort of fashioned that,” Florescu said. “We generally tend to wait until the singers get here in the fall so we get an idea of what their strengths are and then we put that together and the program grows out of that.”

That’s Amore isn’t all the Studio Artists have on their plate. They just finished performing in the touring children’s opera Little Red’s Most Unusual Day, and will soon begin rehearsals for Albert Herring, in which they all have lead roles. Meanwhile, the Florentine itself is currently in the process of screening applications for next year’s Studio Artists, with over one hundred applicants already.

With so much happening for the Studio Artists and such an expansive repertoire to perform, That’s Amore proves to be an intimate, moving evening of love songs for all to enjoy. According to Florescu, “This particular group of voices sounds incredibly good together. If you like close jazz or musical theater harmony, as well as really wonderful solo singing, it is a great opportunity to hear that.”

For a taste of the show, check out this rehearsal video, supplied by the Florentine:

The Florentine Opera Company’s That’s Amore is performed predominantly in English, and will include a wide range in genre. The concert opens on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., and will show again on Feb. 9 at 2:30 & 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 10 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $55 and can be purchased online or at (414) 224-9490.

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