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Archive for the ‘Live stage performances’ Category

Herb Herbst greets the audience at the concert tonight.

The Joseph A. Palaia Theatre at the JS Arts Center:   Herb Herbst greets the audience at the concert tonight.  Paul Goldfinger photograph.   April 12, 2014© Click left to enlarge

By Paul Goldfinger, Music Editor @Blogfinger

We attended a superb concert tonight at the Jersey Shore Arts Center.  President Herbert Herbst wanted to have a “classy” event at his venue, and he got it tonight, including an enthusiastic and knowledgable audience of about 250 music lovers. The concert, called “Opera, Broadway and the Movies” featured three excellent singers from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The first half was about famous arias, duets and trios from works of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Leoncavallo, and Bizet.

Although I am not an opera buff, most of the music was recognizable to  me, and the performers chose the “greatest hits.”   Ronald Naldi  of Ocean Grove was the tenor, and what a magnificent and dignified performer he is. The soprano was Valerie Bernhardt, and the baritone was Richard Hobson, a very dramatic and forceful singer.  Ms. Bernhardt was fine by herself as well as with the other two singers.

I was surrounded by opera mavens including some who are season ticket holders at the Met in New York.  They said the performances deserved the loud praise from the audience. The acoustics in the 400 seat first floor Joseph A. Palaia Theatre was excellent. No amplification was needed.    It is a lovely small theatre venue with a stage that is so high, that there is no trouble seeing from any location.  The Jersey Shore Arts Center is a historic building that has been completely restored.  And the ticket price of $25.00 was an amazing bargain.

The second half was all about the great composers of Broadway including Sondheim, Bernstein, Arlen, Rogers and others.  It was worth the trip just to hear Ronald Naldi sing “There is Nothing Like a Dame” from South Pacific. The three singers transformed themselves for the second half, but their choices allowed their operatic voices to shine. Mr. Hobson mesmerized the audience with his version of “Old Man River” from Showboat.  Ms. Bernhardt sang a lovely rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz, and Ronald Naldi treated us to a glorious version of Mario Lanza’s “Be My Love.”  Mr. Naldi also sang Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive” from Company, and it was wonderful.

We spoke to Dr. Shelley Brown of Ocean Grove. She knows her serious music, and she thought it was a miraculous musical event, worthy of the Met itself*.  She told me that Ronald Naldi is among the pantheon of great soloists at the Met.

Congratulations to all the performers including the fine  accompanist  pianist Sean Gough.

So if you get a chance to hear some serious music at the JSAC, don’t miss it.

Leaving the concert.  Paul Goldfinger photo

Leaving the concert. Paul Goldfinger photo

THE PEARL FISHERS DUET  was sung tonight by Ronald Naldi and Richard Hobson, but here is a recorded version of “Au fond du temple saint.” by Bizet and sung by Robert Merrill and Jussi Bjorling:

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The show's ensemble singing was top notch, and very moving. Photo by Mary Walton

By Charles Layton

The crowd at the Jersey Shore Arts Center on Saturday gave a warmly emotional reception to “Labor of Love,” JoAnn Robertozzi’s theatrical tribute to the 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Quite a few people were wiping away tears during the musical finale, sung by actors playing some of the victims who, caught on the roof of the flaming building in lower Manhattan, were forced to jump to their deaths.

When one of the characters said, “I saw bodies flying from the building, like angels,” it was impossible not to be reminded of some of the most graphic photos of 9/11.

The bare-bones staging was helped a lot by photo images of the 1911 tragedy, projected on a screen. And even though the Arts Center’s acoustics are problematic, the singing was thrilling.

In the Q&A that followed the performance, the author, Robertozzi, told the audience she hoped to further develop “Labor of Love” into a fully staged play, to be entered in New York’s Fringe Festival. We wish her all good luck with that.

Because so many of the fire’s victims were Italian immigrant girls, a couple of the play’s songs were Italian standards from the period. Here is one of those songs, sung by Mario Lanza:

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By Paul Goldfinger, MD.  Editor @Blogfinger  Reposted from 2011 on BF.

Nineteen years ago, when Tony Bennett appeared in the Great Auditorium for the first time, the tenor soloist in Ocean Grove, Ronald Naldi, was asked to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. He did so gladly because he is a great admirer of Mr. Bennett’s work. When Mr. Naldi learned that Tony Bennett was returning this season, he volunteered to sing the National Anthem again.

The audience of over 4,000 people was thrilled by Mr. Naldi’s performance. He was accompanied on the Hope-Jones organ by his 23 year old grandson Sean Gough of North Plainfield, New Jersey;  his magnificent tenor voice resonated and soared through the massive wooden structure.

Ronald Naldi sings the National Anthem at the Bennett concert. Photo by Tracey James

Mr. Naldi is a professional singer with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and he has been the tenor soloist in Ocean Grove for the last 38 years.  Several years ago he was honored by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association when they  named him “Artist-In-Residence.”

Ronald Naldi was born in New Jersey. He is a member of the Italian-American Hall of Fame. During the summer, he and his wife spend weekends in their tent. He is a member and soloist with the Great Auditorium Choir and, when he is not in the Grove or traveling around the world, he lives in North Plainfield.

We discussed the acoustics in the GA with Mr. Naldi, who has appeared throughout the world in great opera houses. He said that the acoustics are “incredible” in the GA and he loves to sing in that “unique huge” building. He told us that he sings without amplification in the GA as do all the singers and musicians who perform the famous sacred and classical works that are staged regularly in Ocean Grove each summer. The only time they use a microphone is when a recording is being made. Performing in the Great Auditorium has been likened to playing inside a giant cello.

Ronald Naldi is a Blogfinger fan, and we were delighted and privileged to be able to speak to him. He has recorded four CD’s: two are of Neapolitan music while the other two contain songs composed by Maria Lombardo and Dennis Hyams—both from New Jersey.

This song, Santa Lucia, is from Mr. Naldi’s album “Torna a Surriento.” It is a traditional Neapolitan composition from the 19th century. If you  were to take the boat ride into the “Blue Grotto” off the Isle of Capri, near Naples, the boatmen like to sing this song while they row around in circles inside the grotto. If you emerge through the small opening unscathed, you will have this song reverberating in your dizzy head for days.

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