Musical Notes Graphic

That was nice.

Summer music in Long Beach usually means free outdoor parks concerts. So it was a bit of an unexpected pleasure to find myself the other night, indoors and air-conditioned, at a very welcome voice and piano recital.

The venue was the Aurora Theater, a little gem on Village Road around the corner from Vino e Cucina. One Charles Tentindo runs an acting studio there, and has appointed it nicely with a small stage, theater seats and simple lighting equipment. The place seats 50 or so, and can be rented out for events.

This recital was one of the first such to be presented here, and hopefully there will be more. It’s ideal for a voice recital, of which there are far too few in Long Beach.

Soprano Camila Lima, daughter of Metropolitan Opera tenor Luis Lima, was the featured artist. She is a major talent, possessed of a large, creamy and gorgeous soprano voice. She is the embodiment of the girl from Ipanema, tall and tan and young and lovely, with an effusive personality to match.

Her partner on this occasion was pianist Dustin Callahan, who not only accompanied the singer but was featured in several solo pieces. He plays with technical assurance as well as a nice sense of style and musicality.

The two collaborated on a varied program, informally presented, of standard vocal and pianistic fare that lasted a solid two hours with intermission. We began with three Baroque arias by Bach and Handel, all slow; one might have wished for more variety, but the largo selections did serve to show off the voice in all its splendor. Callahan followed with three Bach inventions, nicely delineated.

Moving on to Mozart (“Deh, vieni, non tardar” and “Batti, batti” and the rondo from the piano sonata K. 333) found the soprano growing ever more expressive and the pianist more virtuosic, testing the capabilities of his Korg keyboard. The first half ended with the Laughing Song from “Die Fledermaus,” and Lima did not fail to take advantage of all the comic possibilities.

Norina’s aria from “Don Pasquale” was somewhat overplayed in terms of comedy, but Lima sang beautifully in proper bel canto style. Callahan’s Korg was stretched to the limit by two Chopin selections, but rose to the occasion for the Rachmaninoff C# minor prelude.

Two art songs (Strauss’ “Zueignung” and “Après un rêve” by Fauré) provided a nice contrast. In the Fauré especially, Lima scaled her vocalism down effectively. Callahan essayed a couple of Brahms intemezzos and Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1, and Lima ended with two Puccini arias.

The audience, composed largely of friends and family, was enthusiastic and pretty undemanding; I missed a printed program; both translations (since the whole program was in French, German and Italian) and bios of the performers would have been nice.

But this first effort was exceedingly well performed and, like I said, most welcome. Look for future offerings at the Aurora at www.theauroratheater.com.

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