These days smartphones make the dissemination of information and photos much quicker. A few days ago I saw this tweet/photo on Twitter:
“@Lisette_Oropesa Beautiful day in Pittsburgh!
All ready to sing #CarminaBurana with @pghsymphony and @manfredhoneck”
In one sense, this is a great way to remind people of what they already know, that an event like this ought to be really great, and that we shouldn’t forget that we want to go and to make sure we make plans. That’s what I did. I made sure I was there for Friday night’s opening of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics at Heinz Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck.
As she entered the stage, one could instantly see that Lisette Oropesa looked very beautiful in her ruby red dress with frilly ruffles horizontally wrapped all the way to the ground, ruby lipstick on her lips, ornate earrings with triple inset rubies and ruby red cheeks with the most effusive smile contagious in its effect. But it was her voice that really impressed. We had to wait for quite some time while Manfred Honeck with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, and soloists Andrey Nemzer (tenor), Hugh Russell (baritone) and Lisette Oropesa (soprano), would get to the solo passages.
Most people have heard the first minute or two of Orff’s Carmina Burana. Yet how can we avoid the temptation to listen to the entire piece, its fate and fortune elucidated for the enjoyment of ears and eyes. I’ve seen and heard it twice now, and I have to say this performance was the best. And I was left yearning to hear it again, during intermission I half jokingly said to my friend, Encore, I want to hear it again, in its entirety, right now.
But let’s back up to the start. The concert began with an orchestrated version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” which achieved a wonderful first sense of beginning for the new season. This was followed by the Beethoven: Overture to Fidelio, you can never go wrong with Beethoven, his music is always enduring and always a treat to listen to, especially live at the concert hall. The PSO conducted by Manfred Honeck presented this overture wonderfully.
This was followed by a world premiere/PSO commission by Stock: Sixth Symphony. New music is always fun to experience—and this night was no exception. The music began quickly by jumping right in to what seemed like a suspenseful chase and progressed through various flavors of interesting combinations successfully using all the sections of the orchestra to individually portray sections of music, yet as a hybrid amalgamation it made sense as a conglomerate statement. My favorite was the third and final movement. I am not sure if this was intended as programmatic music, yet somehow I conjured visions of the old west in my mind, sweeping vistas, buffalo and cactus, native Americans and pioneers clashing culminated with peaceful rewriting of history.