Barbara Double is well-known to Pasadena bibliophiles as a long-time books — mysteries, especially — columnist in the Friends of the Public Library’s newsletter.
She’s also an operaphile, if that is a word, and graciously had us up to the Altadena Town & Country Club Sunday night for a Valentine’s concert of arias presented by young singers selected by the Pasadena Opera Guild, for 44 years dedicated to promoting the art by advancing the careers of up-and-coming singers.
“Today even the name Pasadena Opera Guild conjures up an image of an ermined dowager with a lognette,” writes Barbara. “To be fair, this may have been an accurate picture of the Guild in its early days. But today’s organization has evolved into much more than ladies of leisure who love opera. Ermine is rare: lorgnettes are rarer. Today, the organization gives meaningful financial support to the opera stars of tomorrow, and works creatively to build the opera audiences of the future. Many of its most enthusiastic members enjoy demanding and successful professional careers. Our president. Rozella Knox, is a practicing physician.”
Eight or ten times a year, the Opera for Kids van rolls into area schoolyards, and out come singers from the Orange County Opera Company, a fun experience I wrote about several years ago down at … Hamilton Elementary, I believe it was.
Sunday night the Guild’s artist consultant, the L.A. Opera’s Cathy Miller Popovic, right with mic in the photo above, accompanied on piano arias by the three young singers shown. Julie Anne Miller, the 6-1 mezzo soprano on the left, sang, beautifully, from “Figaro”; baritone Yohan Yi, being interviewed, is in his first year in the Domingo-Thornton Program at the L.A. Opera and says that in opera the rule is that the tenor always gets the girl; Alexandra Lucien — I’m spelling that phonetically and will fix later — gave a stunning rendition of Pat Nixon’s aria from “Nixon in China” by John Adams.
I love this opera stuff best in short bursts, just like this. Send me to “The Ring Cycle” and I get drowsy from the length and the foreign tongue (not that Alice Goodman’s “Nixon” libretto isn’t in English, but such is rare). Challenge me technologically and I might even put up some links to low-fi recordings I made from our table on my cell phone — my God, these singers can push the red line on my Voice Memo app.