The Sacramento Choral Calendar
American Bach Soloists
Acis and Galatea - January 26, 2015
by Nancy Bramlett
The sophisticated audience of over 300 filled the Davis Community Church, above and below. The acoustics of the church were stellar. No microphones needed here. I was presented with a press folder when I arrived and thoroughly enjoyed reading the interviews of each of the soloists, three of whom had been through the American Bach Soloists Academy. I am duly impressed after hearing their singing. I would encourage any young singer to aspire to such an obviously impressive experience.
What an exhilarating evening! The orchestra was incredible. They began with a performance of the Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, which was exquisite. Perfection in tone, timber, rhythm, pitch, expression. Tutti! The recorders and violin solos were also perfection, with Elizabeth Blumenstock on the violin and Judith Linsenberg and Debra Nagy on the recorders. I have always been a huge fan of the violin, but this was definitely the most enjoyable performance I have experienced with solo (and duet) recorders. Truly marvelous!
Even the instruments were worthy of their own presentation/concert. A sampling: violins dating from 1660, violoncellos from 1680.
The Brandenburg Allegro was cheerful perfection, the Andante was a wonderful study in light and shade, and the Presto was dazzling. All was brilliant in tone and performance. My heart was dancing with delight.
After a brief intermission, Handel's Acis and Galatea commenced with fabulous soloists and a remarkable choir. With just 14 singers the sound was full and oh-so expressive. The opening instrumental was energetic, playful and uplifting...until....the conflict! The Happy chorus had perfect dynamics, diction, and enunciation, and the singers appeared to be enjoying the performance immensely.
Nola Richardson was superb as Galatea. Her strong, clear and beautiful voice gave me chills. Her acting helped the audience to imagine each scene. Kyle Stegall was equally brilliant with his portrayal of Acis. His tone was perfect, and the characterization true and genuine. Tenors can seem so pretentious and pompous, but this one seemed as though he could really love. And then came Damon, sung by Zachary Wilder. Another great voice and oh, his runs were incredible! The duet between Acis and Galatea was fun to watch as they interacted so joyfully. The first act ended with the chorus singing “Happy We,” my favorite chorus in the pastorale.
Act II began with a remarkable chorus that started out sad, foretelling the impending doom of the lovers, then agitation abounded, as Polyphemus was revealed. Polyphemus, the horrible monster, was sung by Mischa Bouvier. My favorite of his arias was “Let the brave their aims pursuing,” but also the line “Torture, fury! Rage! Despair! I cannot, cannot bear.” I loved Damon's entreaty to Acis, and that he treated Galatea softly and gently. Oh, you could hear such sincerity in his voice! The lilting tone, the perfect diction and marvelous facial expression – a joy to eyes and ears. Then came Acis with the first recitative I have ever loved!
My favorite aria from Acis was “Love sounds th'alarm.” The Galatea aria that most delighted me featured “Billing, cooing, Panting, wooing...” and Damon's “Consider, fond shepherd” was absolutely splendid.
Just so you are not left wondering, Acis is killed by Polyphemus. But Galatea was reminded by the chorus that she had the power to make him a god. He would no longer be hers, but he would live. Oh, young love!
Through all this, the chorus got to relish in the mourning and moaning that Acis is gone, to entreat Galatea to remember her power and to cheer when Acis “now a god appears.” The chorus did a fabulous job throughout. Their enthusiastic and accomplished performance will bring me back for more!
The entire performance was exquisite. I look forward to the next production by the American Bach Soloists!
Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis. Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale. She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services. Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.