I was at last night’s season opening concert by the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras‘ Concert and Symphony orchestras in a strictly personal capacity but witnessed a little surprise area opera fans would appreciate it.
Before a pair of opera selections, music director Dan Chetel started one of those announcements you sort of hate to hear at the theater; that one of the scheduled performers would be unable to perform and we would be seeing whoever they could dig up.
But as sometimes happens, they could dig up someone pretty good. There was audible excitement in the audience when Chetel announced that University of Kentucky graduate, artist-in-residence and internationally traveled tenor Gregory Turay would be stepping in to sing Figaro in Buona Sera Quintet from Giacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, along with students from the UK Opera Theatre and the CKYO Concert Orchestra. And another UK alum, Eric Brown, stepped in to sing Marcello in an excerpt from Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme with the CKYO Symphony.
Brown had the heavier lifting with a full act from the opera, but it was familiar territory as he sang Marcello in UK Opera Theatre’s 2008 production of Boheme. Turay was in somewhat less familiar territory in the baritone role, but was game for their boisterous scene in which Figaro leads a ruse on Dr. Bartolo.
Both were standing in for baritone Thomas Gunther, who Chetel said was forced to step out of the performance at the last minute. Area audiences last saw Gunther as Javert, playing against Turay’s Jean Valjean, in UK Opera’s Les Miserables.