Review: The Two Tenors at the Chapel
The Chapel Restoration’s Sunday Music Series presented a thrilling performance of two extraordinary operatic tenors on August 19. Viktor Antipenko and Luigi Boccia epitomized two classical singing traditions, the Russian and Italian, respectively. The audience, which filled the chapel and overflowed to the grounds outside, responded with rapt attention and enthusiastic ovations.
Mr. Boccia began with contrasting arias from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Puccini’s Tosca. His lovely, full lyric sound negotiated the florid passages of the former with remarkable ease and filled the broad phrases of the Puccini aria with equal success.
Mr. Antipenko was next with the opening aria from Verdi’s Ernani. Instantly, one recognized the sure, rich tones of a lyric-dramatic tenor. This stirring rendition was followed by his gripping interpretation of the Flower Song from Bizet’s Carmen.
Mr. Boccia returned with three songs, a serene reading of Faurè’s “En Priere” providing a fine prelude to more extroverted Italian songs: the teasing “Stornello” by Verdi and Tirindelli’s exuberant “O Primavera.” Not to be outdone, Mr. Antipenko came back with familiar excerpts from Madama Butterfly and Tosca framing a rare and beautiful Russian piece, Erekle’s aria from Izmena by Ippolitov-Ivanov.
Mr. Boccia responded with three songs from his native land, sung as only a native son could, among them a delightful rarity from the Neapolitan repertoire, “Quanno tramonta il sole.” Each thoroughly authentic performance was enhanced by his explanation of the background of the songs and his personal identification with them.
Mr. Antipenko then offered another Russian piece, Rachmaninoff’s dazzling “Spring Waters,” book-ended by two Spanish pieces. This particularly thrilling group led off with a virtuoso account of the popular “Granada.”
Ovations had greeted the singers throughout the concert. Would they end it by singing together? They did. To the delight of the audience, bowing playfully to each other, they launched into a medley of American, Russian and Italian songs, comically trading lyrics in their own languages. The afternoon closed in a crescendo of sound and more standing ovations.
Pianist Arthur McManus accompanied both tenors with extraordinary sensitivity, grace and virtuosity across the broad range of music presented. Also, as do the best conductors, he moved the program along for the pleasure of both performers and audience. Barbara DeSilva, Artistic Director of the Series, has done a magnificent job bringing such world-class artists to Philipstown. The community must be grateful.