The audience burst into applause just as the sopranos of the Stony Brook Opera finished their introduction number from composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” The applause from the crowd only grew louder as the concert went on.
“A Gala Concert of Ensembles and Arias from Opera and Musical Theatre,” presented by Stony Brook Opera in the Staller Center recital hall, displayed the extraordinary degree of talent in the music department.
The ensemble included graduate and undergraduate students from all parts of the world, China, Korea, New Zealand and the United States were all represented.
The concert featured what conductor Timothy Long called “a greatest hits of opera.” The list included excerpts from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème,” Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene,” Gioachino Rossini’s “Cenerentola,” or “Cinderella,” Leo Delibes’ “Lakmé,” and Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” and “Les Pêcheurs de Perles.”
The sopranos not only impressed the crowd with their voices, but also their performance, utilizing the stage doors as prop devices and careful positioning on stage to make the performance lively and exciting.
During Act III of “La Bohème,” the longest performance of the night, the number transitioned from a duet to a trio, back to a duet and finally, a quartet.
The sequence started with the characters Mimi, played by Jennifer Sung, and Marcello, played by Joseph Han.
Mimi asked Marcello the whereabouts of her love Rodolfo, played by David Guzman.
When Rodolfo entered the stage, he and Marcello took center stage while Mimi “hid” in the cover of the stage, as she did not wish to be seen by Rodolfo. She chimes in occasionally, until Rodolfo heard her cry.
The trio transitioned back to a duet between Rodolfo and Mimi as they expressed their love for each other and Marcello exits upon hearing Musetta, played by Tory Browers, flirting with other men off-stage.
Finally, Musetta and Marcello re-enter the stage in an argument while Mimi and Rodolfo are still embracing each other.
The resulting quartet blended comedy and romance as the arguing couple stood to stage right, juxtaposed with the grieving, loving couple to stage left.
The number drew loud applause and shouts of “Bravo!” and “Beautiful!” from the crowd.
The crowd favorite was the solo piece, “Pamina’s Aria,” from “The Magic Flute,” by Ju Hyeon Han, who is blind but has a voice so astonishing that left it the audience in awe at times.
That is not to say she overshadowed her cast, because each member of the ensemble thrived with every role they played.
Gloria Park accompanied the music department’s voice artist-in-residence in a beautiful duet of the classic flower duet from “Lakmé.”
Kristin Starkey led the ensemble in a cheery rendition of “Habanera” from Carmen.
The undergraduate members of the ensemble, Elyse Saucier and Cindy Chen, gave the audience a peek into the future of the ensemble with their performance of the lullaby from “Street Scene.”
Joseph Han and David Guzman concluded the night by performing the duet from “Les Pêcheurs de Perles.”
Long also praised the two pianists, Annie Brooks and Bowei Chen, for their performance, calling their task of reducing the orchestra to just tones from the piano a “difficult one.” The audiences give a prolonged applause for the entire ensemble as a token of appreciation for their performances.
Correction: November 24, 2014
A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Ju Hyeon Han, calling her “Ju Heon Han.” Kristin Starkey was also misidentified as “Kristen Starkey.” In addition, Joseph Han was mistakenly referred to as “Joseph Hann.”