The competition moved to the big garish canoe, the Maison Symphonique, for the rest of the aria rounds; it’s hard on the eyes but cozier for big voices than Bourgie Hall. Most singers sounded much better than in the little room where their power can be alarming, with sopranos Sarah Dufresne and Lauren Margison benefiting the most from the space.
After a confusing ten minute overture when it seemed like they’d lost the first competitor, Dufresne marched onstage and hosed us down with some juicy and agile Bellini, forgettable Mozart—a big fellow in the neighbouring row fell asleep—before ending with a pyrotechnic aria from Thomas’ Hamlet, the second from this opera which served her well in the first round. She has tremendous dramatic presence for a young singer, with a flair for building anticipation and then cleverly pulling back. The more she does the more you wonder what else she’s capable of, or will be capable of. It might be a few more years before her vocal fruit is completely ripe.
Margison is less of an actress and lets her obliging voice do the work instead. Her melancholy program included a captivating “Signore, ascolta” from Turandot, followed by the moon aria from Rusalka, which she made sound easy—too easy, perhaps, to stand out from competitors who are quickly dividing into the dramatic and the stiff.
Bass Vladyslav Buialskyi and mezzo-soprano Valerie Eickhoff fell into this monochromatic category; their pleasant sounds were too contained and lacked commitment.
I’d expect tenor Jihoon Son to make the finals; He’s polished and tasty across his entire range, with cherubic pianissimos on the side. His “Si, ritrovarla io giuro” from Rossini’s Cinderella was politely ardent, with the otherwise excellent Jacques Lacombe’s slow tempo contributing to the feeling of restraint, and he was at his golden-toned best in a gripping “Che gelida manina”. Like a dolphin popping out of orchestral waves.
The semifinals conclude tonight at 7:30pm EST.
Livestream the CMIM competition right here or on our Facebook. View the full schedule here.
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