Gala - Festival del Sole, Omer Meir Wellber, Napa Valley July 2011

After that deeply-felt concerto, the second half of the concert was pure bling, with arias sung by Sardinian tenor Francesco Demuro and Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, more rising stars of the world stage. Adding dramatic touches to gorgeous voices, these two singers put on an enchanting show. And the best part of our delight was their obvious delight in it...Then Demuro warmed up with a soft passage in “Parigi, o cara,” keeping his voice restrained and barely supported, before building to a power that easily filled Yountville’s Lincoln Theater. His sharp diction and agile scales were evidence of painstaking technique, and his sound was youthful and warmly bright. Kurzak joined in, her voice balancing vibrant body with the clarity of a bell. And while her high notes were eye-popping, her coquettish glances and occasional raised eyebrow stole our hearts. They ended that aria with a gorgeous duet, pairing clean voices in tight harmony...After that, Kurzak upped the ante with “Una voce poco fa” from The Barber of Seville. Negotiating Rossini’s decorative runs with ease and hitting isolated high notes dead on, all while mugging for the audience, it became clear why she is a darling of the world’s top stages, including the New York Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, and, recently, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. She confirmed that in “Glitter and Be Gay” from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, with an extraordinary clarity in high laughing cadenzas. - Adam Broner