The CCM Opera d’arte Series of undergraduate productions presented a triple bill of one-act American operas, including Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone, and Mark Bucci’s Tale for a Deaf Ear.

Opera d’arte is CCM Voice Professor Kenneth Shaw’s brainchild. Ken’s colleague, soprano Amy Johnson joined him a couple of years ago as co-producer. Since its inception, this indispensable group has presented a lineup of chamber operas ideally suited to the sill-developing voices of undergraduate hopefuls in need of much-needed stage experience to compliment their musical training. We’ve been watching their growth for a number of years now, and fondly recall many worthy past productions by Opera d’arte: Britten’s Albert Herring and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortileges, among them.

The Bernstein-Menotti-Bucci triple-bill lived up to our expectations. Impeccably paced by conductor Brett Scott and imaginatively directed by Amy Johnson, the young cast flexed its singing and acting chops with flair, transitioning from The Telephone to the jazzy Trouble in Tahiti to the lesser-known Tale for A Deaf Ear by Mark Bucci.

Finest among the very fine members of the triple-bill cast, the young baritone Hayden Smith, possessor of a burly physique and the voice to go with it, delivered a vocally mature and dramatically honest performance in the role of Sam that bodes well for a young man soon to be on the cusp of an operatic career. The physically petite though full-voiced coloratura Sofia Villalon sang a beautiful Lucy  and acted with terrific comic flair in Menotti’s The Telephone. A 16-voice chorus did multiple duties as singers, stage hands and in solo supporting roles throughout the evening led by Sam Krausz as the charming Master of Ceremonies.

Additional performances are scheduled on Saturday February 4 at 8 pm and Sunday February 5 at 2 pm. Admission is free. Reservations are required. Please visit the CCM Box Office or call 513-556-4183 to reserve.

Rafael de Acha