A Singing Valentine from the Florentine
Florentine Studio Artists Carl Frank, Kevin Newell, Kristin DiNinno and Alisa Suzanne Jordheim sing about love, through Sunday.
Friday night, the Florentine Opera took us to “The Land Where the Good Songs Go,” also the aptly named first number of That’s Amore, a concert of love songs by the company four Studio Artists. The intimate red velvet setting of Marcus Center Vogel Hall gave the recital a vintage feel, like stepping into a music box.
That’s Amore mixes operetta and musical theater standards in a Valentine-themed program that showcases the company’s young resident singers. (This is the second year for this format.) The four formally dressed singers seemed to in float from the back of the house as they opened with Jerome Kern’s 1917 tribute to the “dear old songs.” Pianist Eileen Huston and bassist Charles Grosz accompanied them elegantly throughout the evening. Florentine general manager William Florescu introduced each set of the cleverly devised program.
Franz Lehár is rarely paired with Leonard Bernstein, but tenor Kevin Newell and soprano Alisa Suzanne Jordheim made the combination work. Newell gave an earnest reading of “Dein ist mein ganzes herz” in German, followed by Jordheim’s diva turn in “Glitter and Be Gay” from Bernstein’s Candide. They finished the set with a stirring take on “Stranger in Paradise” from Kismet.
Baritone Carl Frank sang “Were Thine that Special Face” from Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate as a poignant lead-in to the ensemble’s fast-paced, close-harmony rendition of “The Shadow of Your Smile,” from the 1965 film The Sandpiper.
Mezzo soprano Kristen DiNinno, in her second year as a Florentine studio singer, displayed a winning confidence and sense of ensemble as she sang and danced with Frank in the familiar “Wunderbar,” from Kiss Me Kate.
DiNinno soared in “It might as well be Spring” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair, before melting in the arms of Newell in “Younger than Springtime” from South Pacific. She brought both men to their knees in a saucy version of “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees. Carl Frank put heart and soul in the poignant “Soliloquy” from Carousel, another Rodgers & Hammerstein standard. Jordheim’s rich soprano was highlighted in Victor Herbert’s classic, “If I Were on the Stage (Kiss Me Again).”
The ensemble finished with a crowd-pleasing That’s Amore. When they invited us all to sing along, we did.
That’s Amore runs through Feb. 10 with performances Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 to $55 online or at the Marcus Center box office 414 273-7206.