Reviewed by Tony Villecco
Bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw and baritone Thomas Goodheart performed a dazzling joint recital last night (Oct. 27) at Binghamton University’s Anderson Center.
Both singers trained and performed leading roles with Tri-Cities Opera, and they dedicated the evening to the 70th season of the local opera company, founded in 1949 by Peyton Hibbitt and the late Carmen Savoca. The evening was a sentimental journey of sorts, not only for Shaw and Goodheart, but for many of their listeners. When the duo asked anyone with TCO affiliation, even as an audience member, to stand, nearly two-thirds of the people in the Chamber Hall rose from their seats.
Goodheart and Shaw are teachers of voice, Shaw at Cincinnati Conservatory-College of Music and Goodheart at BU, where he has taken the vocal department to new heights. Some singers call themselves “teachers” when, in fact, they are only “coaches,” who assist students in preparing repertoire and offer feedback. Shaw and Goodheart are technicians who, as witnessed, demonstrate their teaching ability while performing with striking results.
Their diverse and unique program featured songs and arias by Mozart, Verdi, Handel, Ravel and Ibert, among others. Ibert’s Chansons de Don Quichotte have an almost mystical and erotic quality, and Shaw sang these with aplomb. Ravel’s Don Quichotte a Dulcinée were comical as well as dreamy as interpreted by Goodheart.
The first half closed with two selections from Glen Roven’s Shakespeare Songs, Book 1, a work with which I was not familiar and is not your standard recital repertoire. Shaw got the chance to showcase his acting chops as well as his singing with these pieces.
It should be pointed out that both men sang very well although each has a distinct tonality. Shaw’s voice has a warm and smoky quality while Goodheart has a somewhat brighter instrument full of resonance.
Both were served well by BU’s Joel Harder, who was exceptional providing the piano accompaniments,
The second half was perhaps what the audience came to hear: operatic arias and a duet that is seldom performed in concert as it requires two low voices rather than the traditional tenor and baritone. Goodheart shone in Mozart’s “Non più andrai” from Le Nozze di Figaro. His “È sogno? O realta” from Verdi’s Falstaff was superb. Shaw had his moments with “Il lacerato spirito” from Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and “Ombre di mia prosapia” from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda.
Closing was the rousing duet from Bellini’s I Puritani, “Suoni la tromba.” But, of course, that wasn’t really the end. The two did a magnificent and emotional “The Impossible Dream” from the Mitch Leigh Broadway show Man of La Mancha.
Yes, Don Quixote was a large part of last evening’s recital and rightly so. Quixote fought to make the world a better place, and isn’t that exactly what music does?