Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Opera's Greatest Hits
St. Petersburg Opera Company
William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Souvenir

Chris Romeo in performance last fall at Cage Brewery
Photo Courtesy of St. Petersburg Opera
POPera is back, as St. Petersburg Opera offers more monthly installments of their roving opera concerts. Starting this month, the first program is offered indoors at Opera Central. January's program is entitled Opera's Greatest Hits, although only about half of the program really falls under that banner, the other half being lesser known selections.

For several reasons, this performance is their strongest thus far. Indoors the voices have far more impact than they did at Cage Brewing where I saw the fall programs. A piano (verses electric keys), a large ensemble of singers, and the ability for more stagecraft all combine to raise this program to new heights. Experience garnered over multiple months has resulted in more effective programming.

Eric Ferring, tenor and with a Metropolitan Opera debut in his future (pandemic willing), opens with "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön," Tamino's first aria from The Magic Flute. He returns later in the program with Count Almaviva's first act aria, "Ecco, ridente in cielo," from The Barber of Seville. A few months ago I wrote that Ferring has a big voice with gorgeous legato, and nothing has changed. This is a voice, living locally, that has potential for a solid career at the Met.

Who knew that John Adams' Nixon in China has become mainstream? Peter Sellers, who directed the first production, was Boston based, as was I, at the time of this opera's gestation, so it has been in my bones for a long time. Jenny Kim-Godfrey sings "I am the wife of Mao Tse-Tung," a fiendish coloratura aria which she nails, complete with high E above high C at the climax.

Vlad Markov sings an aria for villain Count Rudolpho from Bellini's La sonnambula, a lovely bel canto treat, but "Ah non giunge" from the same opera would be the greatest hit the program title promises. Other solo numbers include: "Hai già vinta la causa" from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro sung by Chris Holloway; Linda Holloway sings Mimi's third act "Donde lieta usci"; Chris Romeo rings in with Calaf's first act aria "Non piangere, Liù" from Puccini's Turandot; Sarah Norden, with an assist from Linda Holloway and Jenny Kim Godfrey, sings Carmen's second act opening Gypsy Song; bass Tyler Putnam sings Banco's aria from Verdi's Macbeth and "Vecchia zimarra, senti," the Coat Aria from La Bohème, suggesting potential of a major career on the regional circuit—definitely a voice I would like to hear more of.

Several extended ensembles fill out the program. "Musetta's Waltz," with Sarah Nordin as Musetta, and the final 10 minutes of Act IV are the other La Bohème selections; and the Act I septet finale from Mozart's Don Giovanni concludes the evening with everyone on stage.

Teresa Ancaya is again at the piano offering outstanding accompaniment, while Maestro Mark Sforzini plays a number of bassoon lines and conducts the biggest ensemble pieces. His musical preparation of all the principals is outstanding.

The remaining performance of this program is today at The Museum of Fine Arts at 4:00PM. There are new programs coming the last weekends of February and March, so check out St. Petersburg Opera's website for details as they become available.

Opera's Greatest Hits, by St. Petersburg Opera Company, runs through January 31, 2021, in St. Petersburg FL. For more information, please visit

Eric Ferring, tenor
Linda Holloway, Soprano
Chris Holloway, baritone
Rim Karnavicius, baritone
Jenny Kim-Godfrey, soprano
Vlad Markov, bass
Sarah Nordin, mezzo
Tyler Putnam, bass
Chris Romeo tenor