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Opera stars shine in intimate setting

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This summer marks the second season that the Santa Fe Concert Association is presenting Santa Fe Opera stars in recital at the Scottish Rite Center.

“Festival of Song” is a series of three, one-hour recitals that allow audience members to experience three stars of the opera world in an intimate setting.

Soprano Leah Crocetto, who appears in the Santa Fe Opera’s production of “Maometto II,” presents songs by Brahms, Strauss and Rachmaninoff during her July 22 recital with Santa Fe Concert Association director Joe Illick at the piano. Crocetto is the winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a 2011 Cardiff BBC Singer of the World finalist who has won numerous prizes and awards since 2008.

If you go
WHAT: Santa Fe Concert Association presents the “Festival of Song”
WHEN: 4 p.m. July 22, soprano Leah Crocetto; 4 p.m. July 29, soprano Nicole Cabell; 4 p.m. Aug. 5, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni
WHERE: Scottish Rite Center, 463 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe
HOW MUCH: $40 each or $100 for all three recitals. Call 505-988-1234 or 505-984-8759

Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon will be performed on July 29 by soprano Nicole Cabell, who stars in the Santa Fe Opera’s production of “The Pearl Fishers.” The 2005 winner of the Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Competition, Cabell has appeared in major opera houses throughout the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Oper in Berlin and the Royal Opera House in London.

“Nicole is going to sing works from her new CD, ‘Silver Rain,’ which has Ricky’s songs on it,” Illick said. “We’re very excited that Ricky is coming to town to accompany Nicole on the piano.”

Bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who also appears in “Maometto II,” will sing works by Schubert in Italian, a selection of songs by Rossini and seven songs by Liszt during his recital on Aug. 5 with Illick at the piano. “I recently recorded these songs and they mean a great deal to me,” he said by email.


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Born in Venezuela in 1975, Pisaroni made his operatic debut at the Salzburg Festival at age 26 and his Metropolitan Opera debut this past season.

“I love the intimacy of a recital and artistic freedom,” he said. “In a recital, the audience can fully concentrate on you, and sometimes they know more about you than after an opera performance. Don’t get me wrong. I am a passionate opera singer and love the big sets, the wonderful costumes and the bright lights. But I also enjoy the smaller and more minimalist setting of a recital. I find it a wonderful challenge to bring these little vignettes to life with my voice alone and ignite the imagination of the audience.”

Illick says the premiere season of “Festival of Song” was a big hit last year.

“People loved it,” he said. “Here, you are 15 feet from the same singer you see at a distance in the opera house. You feel like you’re at home with the singer. An extra bonus is that we host a reception with the artist after each recital. Everyone in the audience can go upstairs to the banquet hall and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages with the singer.”