Viva Claire & Aviva!

Viva Claire & Aviva!

Greg Finney

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to find myself invited to a small private recital by two of the best young singers in the country (there, I said it). Sopranos, and besties, Claire de Sevigne and Aviva Fortunata treated us to an intimate recital before they split up for about a year; Claire travels to Salzburg and Zürich, and Aviva heads out to dominate the 2015 Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

I found myself in a lovely apartment seated next to an impressive marble fireplace. There was an apartment grand about ten feet ahead of me and a big projection screen showing candid and behind-the-scenes shots of these two fabulous mademoiselles of music. The title “Best friends, Deal with It”, let me know that I was definitely going to get a whole bunch of Claire and Aviva’s charming personalities throughout the afternoon.

From what I remembered of their voices I had a fleeting moment of being concerned that I may get pummelled by sound. I should have known better. These two ladies seriously have chops and know how to a) play to their hall and b) play to their audience.

With Schmopera’s own Jenna Douglas at the piano, the program was a light-hearted, extremely funny romp through some fabulous repertoire sung by some fabulous singers. This really was one of the highlights of my season, and I almost missed out on it. They opened the show with a lovely video montage of friends, colleagues and family commenting candidly on their relationship with the sopranos and the girls’ relationship with each other, and then launched into a delicious “Sull’aria” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro - one of my all-time favourite duets.

There was Mozart and Mendelssohn, and a wonderful musical theatre medley that closed the night, even featuring original music by Ms. Fortunata herself. I do have to give it up, though, to the a medley right before the intermission: it was a mash-up of all the duets these two sopranos will never get to sing together (L’incoronazione di Poppea, La bohème, my personal favourite, Ruddigore, in which they NAILED some of the hardest patter in the canon, and many many more). It’s a number that would be the perfect finale to almost any large scale recital, gala, and I’m hoping the girls get the chance to record it for posterity. It really was truly brilliant. Honestly, I haven’t laughed this hard in a while.

This is exactly the kind of show that should be put up in pubs (Opera Bob’s?) and done for more public audiences. It’s recitals like this I think are what we need to get opera back into the hands (and ears) of the general public. The show is contemporary, entertaining, and leaves the audience begging for more.

Please come back soon and sing all this again for us!!



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