I don’t listen to opera, although I don’t dislike it. I’m amazed at the power of these singers’ voices. It was interesting to watch this duo up close like this because you could really see them emote the story (especially in the duet). So even if I had no idea what was going on lyrically (which I didn’t), I could get a sense of how they reacted to each other.
Here’s some background:
Soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Brian Jagde are young, fresh-faced opera singers at the dawn of promising careers. El-Khoury has already appeared at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, while Jagde has sung roles in smaller houses here and in Europe. Miloš Repickný joined the two singers at our trusty electric piano.
For this Tiny Desk performance, she reprises her role of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi by singing the hit aria “O mio babbino caro,” in which she pleads with her father to let her marry her boyfriend. Listen for El-Khoury’s immaculate control of dynamics. Her soft, pianissimo notes are silvery and well-supported by the breath.
Jagde steps up next for a number from Puccini’s Tosca — the opening tenor aria, “Recondita armonia” — in which he muses about Tosca, his “dark-eyed mistress.” It takes a lot of work to sing it right, and Jagde produces the requisite drama and decibels.
The two hard-working singers end with the deliciously romantic duet which closes act one of Puccini’s La Bohème. “We’ve just fallen in love,” Jagde notes. “It happens really quickly in the opera.” As their two powerful, love-struck voices intertwine, the sounds of Puccini reverberate off the walls of the entire fifth floor — a good day in the office.
The first piece [Puccini: “O mio babbino caro” (from Gianni Schicchi)] is sung by Joyce and her voice is wonderful. Its starts a little quiet but really soars by the end. It is only 2 minutes (which is something of a surprise). It’s amusing to hear her speak in such a plain American voice after wailing in Italian like that. Brian then speaks. He begins with a wonderful Italian pronunciation of the song they will sing and then reveals himself to have a standard American accent as well. He tells us a bit of the plot of the song [Puccini:” Recondita armonia” (from Tosca)]. He is painting in a church–a beautiful blonde goddess. And he compares her to Tosca, who is completely the opposite. And then that quiet voiced guy opens his mouth to sing. The power in his voice is incredible. And just before the end, he wails an amazing note. This piece also lasts only 2 minutes
The final piece [Puccini: “O soave fanciulla” (from La Bohème)] is a duet. He says that they are in love and about to go out together but they have to look at each other one more time. They sing beautifully together. I can’t imagine his big powerful voice singing right next to her ear (and being romantic at the same time). They act it out very well. There’s even a moment where they look about to kiss but she pulls away to keep singing—it’s good convincing acting.
[READ: February 12, 2016] Dragon Puncher Island
This sequel to Dragon Puncher is just as funny as the first. The Kochalkas got a new cat who takes a starring role.
The story opens up with Dragon Puncher and Spoony-E by the seaside (filmed in Maine). Spoony-E is bragging about his spoon-wielding abilities (even though his spoon is broken). Finally Dragon Puncher tells him to be quiet. And also to stop calling him mister as she is a girl cat.
But when Spoony E stats saying “who’s my pretty little kitty,” Dragon Puncher gets mad and punches Spoony-E! Spoony is caught by the new kitty, a green bubbly creature called Monster Slapper. And Monster Slapper doesn’t take kindly to this small, furry and, frankly, smelly creature.
Dragon Puncher defends Spoony E (although he does admit that he is smelly) and soon both cats are having a punching/slapping fight.
While that is going on, a sea dragons roars from the water (he is also Kochalka, but just his teeth this time which is even funnier).
There is another battle (watch out for the tail) and a funny punchline about stinky fur.
But the big surprise comes when the giant pink creature named Pollywog comes onto the scene. Pollywog is Spoony-E’s little brother (for real).
The final page shows that Eli was 6 when he acted in this book. Pollywog is played by Oliver when he was 2 1/2. Spandy is 16, and Nooko was only 1 when he appeared as the Monster Slapper.