Dear Friends,I truly appreciate all of the financial and spiritual support I am receiving from all of you in continuing my service through music in Christ’s name in the Hungarian Reformed Seminary in Cluj, Romania.
A report of the concert will appear this week in a local Hungarian newspaper but I will try and give some of the highlights (in English of course) so you can better understand this important event.
Although I have organized many concerts in the past this was the first Opera Gala and almost all of the selections were operatic excerpts.
Also the Romanian musical community was much more involved and among our six soloists were two prominent young Romanian singers……The size of our audience was a record high and enthusiastically received all selections offered by our talented singers.
Another first was that this concert was professionally videotaped and many of the Canadian supporters will be able to view it in the near future.My students once again proved their willingness to work together and to produce an evening of quality.
The program was introduced both in Romanian and in Hungarian very ably by David Sipos a first year student having excellent linguistic skills. In starting the program Andriana Festeu a talented first year student offered a wonderful rendition of “Piangero” from Handel’s Julius Casear. She expressively defined well the contrasting tempos of the ABA aria and her agility in the B section gave the audience a taste of what was to follow in her later Rossini aria and duet.
Nagy Zoltan, also a first year conservatory student had already appeared in the concert in May but he demonstrated to the audience in his Beethoven and Schubert selections that he is certainly progressing in an admirable direction.
Gyor Katalin who also appeared in May concert sang Handel’s “Oh Had I Jubal’s Lyre” with excellent control in the melismatic sections conveying the optimistic text with jubilance.
The male choir’s first appearance in this year was well received in their three selections.Their efforts were truly concentrated and inspired particularly when singing with Konrad Erzsebet from the Hungarian Opera. The joint offering was “La Vergine” from Verdi’s La Forza del Destino.
Szilagyi Robert a fifth year theological student has appeared many times in the institute’s concert but this was the first time he sang all of his three selections; Schumann’s ‘Ich Grole Nicht” and two baritone arias from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Gonoud’s Faust
from memory and with a new freedom of expressiveness. Robbie has enrolled this year as a part time student at the conservatory and he hopes to continue his vocal studies next year when he begins his service as a pastor in the Hungarian Reformed Church.
Tiberius Simu a tenor from Cluj had a stunning success in his first concert with us. He has sung in Verdi’s Traviata with the Romanian Opera of which he also directed.
His “Una Furtiva Lacrima” from Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore was delivered in true belcanto style. The following duet gave him an opportunity to show his amazing talent as a comic artist. There are rumours that there may have been real whisky in place of the “elixir”which didn’t prevent him from continuing with admirable vocal expertise well matched by Gyorgy Katalin.
In the following Rossini’s “Italian Girl in Algiers” Ms. Festue dazzled the audience with her effortless coloratura in Isabella’s aria. The duet with Nagy Zoltan amazed the audience in that two young singers in their first year could manage such a high level of vocal and comic artistry in a considerably difficult excerpt. Many from the conservatory commented that this kind of accomplishment is certainly not “normal”.
Gyorgy Katalin offered a passionate “Last Rose of Summer” from Flotow’s Marta sung is German and Mr. Simu’s Granad by Lara had the audience cheering, rather a rare occasion in our sanctuary.
Konrad Erzsebet sang with great dramatic effect “La Mamma Morta” from Giordano’s Andrea Chenier. Noone remembers when this aria was last heard in Cluj, Besides being one of the greatest sopranos in Cluj, Ms. Konrad is well recognized as a pedagogue and my students really appreciated the opportunity to work with her.
The final trio from Verdi’s Attila was complemented by a small mixed chamber put together two weeks before this concert. They performed well and were assisted by the remaining three soloists and so that the whole company could rejoice together….
“SING AND REJOICE”In Christ’s Service, Brian Johnston
Protestant Theological Seminary