St. Giles Episcopal Church is a small but quaint place, with the top of its walls lined with stained glass windows of saints and apostles of both the Old and New Testament. But from this little church comes Paul Corona, a bass-baritone opera singer and winner of numerous operatic competitions like the Monastero Bel Canto and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He, William Billingham (pianist), and Angela Mannino (soprano) teamed up to give a private concert for the congregation. I was fortunate enough to be invited by a good friend who attends the church, and although I’m not usually too keen on listening to opera music, I’m glad I went, because the singing was absolutely divine (pun intended)!
The pair started off with “Cinque…dieci…venti…trenta” from Le Nozze di Figaro, and even included a cute act to go with the duet. There’s something about their voices that just resounded in the church, not only because of the acoustics, but also because they have the same timbre of voice, even though they sing in different ranges of pitches. Every note was hit spot on, and when they harmonised, I could hear the wedding bells ring. Ha! Oh, just a tidbit, but apparently they’re dating one another. Other opera songs they sung include”O Mio Babbino Caro” (Pucinni), “Chacun le Sait” (Donizetti) and “Der Nussbaum” (Schumann).
Of course, they didn’t just sing opera songs. Corona did a solo with “This is the Life” by Kurt Weill, from the musical Love Life which is about the life of two high school sweethearts getting married and then getting divorced. The ex-husband then proceeds to sing about how his life is so much better after the divorce, but it ends up sounding more like he’s trying to convince himself of this. Mannino sang “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady, which shouldn’t need any backstory. She hit a few notes that made me feel a little afraid for the survival of the stained glass windows, but nothing happened. Except it did help cause a standing ovation at the end, and the duo graced us with an encore: “People Will Say We’re in Love“, from the musical Oklahoma!.
I think I preferred the songs sung in English, as I’m not a huge fan of opera I couldn’t really tell what they were singing about when they sung in Italian or German. The backstories, gestures and the tone of the music helped a little, but I still like knowing exactly what’s being said. The church was also a little too echo-y, but I’m nitpicking again. Honestly, it was a wonderful show, and I hope everyone who came enjoyed it as much as I did! Last but not least, a big THANK YOU to my friend for inviting me, and to everyone who helped provide the amazing homemade desserts at the reception table after the concert – everything was delicious! And thank you for not spiking the punch.