Vocalist - Baritone, Symphony Pops
IN REVIEW: The Pearl Fishers, Kentucky Opera, 2/2/07
The cold weather in Louisville was a stunning contrast to the hot weather and passion of ancient Ceylon in Kentucky Opera's traversal of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. Scott Bergeson led a performance that was exhilarating yet precise in control. He whipped up a frenzy for the storm in the Act II finale and an outpouring of religious fanaticism from the powerful KO chorus.

Just as Zurga was "King of the Pearl Fishers," so baritone Stephen Powell was "King of the Kentucky Opera Stage." Vocally commanding, always sturdy and rock-solid, a column of bronze sound, Powell made Zurga into a sympathetic hero. As Leila, cause of all the romantic dust-up between tenor and baritone, Barbara Shirvis (Powell's wife offstage) was equally commanding in a strong-willed and brave portrait -- a superb complement to Powell's Zurga. The Leila-Zurga confrontation in Act III was dramatically thrilling.

There was plenty of ear-lulling sweetness to William Joyner's Nadir, coupled with strength of character. Nourabad was made up as a bald-headed Ramfis clone, but Stephen Morscheck brought a fine measure of dignity and a stentorian voice to the role.

A dreamily romantic setting designed by Boyd Ostroff, originally created for Opera Company of Philadelphia, was a showcase in itself, but the drab costumes designed by Howard Tsvi Kaplan for Sarasota Opera were less than eye-catching. Joshua Major's staging featured myriad striking Hindu-like hand-movements and gestures, creating plenty of activity for the chorus.
Charles H. Parsons, Opera News
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