On Friday November 3rd I had the pleasure of attending an evening of Opera titled Love Through the Ages with Maria Fortuna and Nancy Townsend at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre. Having never been to an Opera performance I had no idea of what to expect and was looking forward to this new experience. Fortuna was accompanied by multi-faceted pianist Nancy Townsend. These two musicians showed tremendous expertise and were able to keep my attention through the extent of the program. Maria Fortuna is a soprano and she has enjoyed international success with her stunning vocal talent.
Fortuna’s repertoire ranges from the lyric soprano to the dramatic coloratura roles, being performed in front of many large audiences and critics. Fortuna was born in Niagara Falls N. Y and more recently received her Masters of Music which led her to her teaching position at SUNY Fredonia. Nancy Townsend is a pianist, vocal coach, conductor and stage director. She has recently performed in recitals throughout the United States, primarily in the west. As I had no idea of what to expect when entering this concert I went in with an extremely open mind.
Even leading up to the intermission I wasn’t convinced that I was understanding the structure of opera. However, even with my very limited knowledge of opera I could come to a few conclusions. Fortuna and Townsend evidently worked well together, they were always in sync and fed off of each others talent. As well it seemed as if Fortuna was using an aspect of call and response to enhance her production. Her call would be in the form of a story and she would then answer her call with her singing.
The show was slightly disrupted in the first half with a large group of people that had been late for the performance, I couldn’t visually see any signs of fault on Fortuna’s behalf when this occurred. An interesting aspect of Fortuna’s style was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Fortuna would make stable eye contact with specific sections in the audience, this portrayed the feeling that she was singing for the crowd and not herself. The piece within Fortuna’s selection in which I enjoyed the most was a classical Spanish song titled La mi sola, Laureola.
Within all of the classical Spanish songs love was the overwhelming theme. Within this selection Fortuna used a softer pitch and proceeded all of the way through the scale. Fortuna was able to adapt her voice to fit the style of each song, her narration within the songs taken from Shakespeare sounded as if it were Shakespeare reading to himself. Based on this being my first opera experience I was pleasantly surprised. Fortuna and Townsend entertained us for the extent of the program and proved to this small St. Catherines audience that they were accomplished musicians.