Eduardo Villa. At the Marjorie Luke Theatre, Friday, January

Reviewed by James Hanley Donelan

In a white tie and looking precisely like the Spanish nobleman
he plays in Verdi’s Don Carlos, Eduardo Villa took the stage of the
Marjorie Luke Theatre on Friday night with an air of dignified
command. Accompanied by pianist (and conductor) Frank Paul Fetta,
he sang with fluency and passion in Spanish, Italian, French, and
German, with art songs and opera arias ranging from the comical,
Offenbach’s “Chanson de Kleinzach” from Les Contes d’Hoffmann; to
the rapturous, Tosti’s “Aprille;” to the tragic, Verdi’s “Niun mi
tema” from Otello. Eduardo Villa’s return to his hometown from the
world’s great opera stages was a triumph of both virtuosity and
generosity — the concert raised funds for the Diabetes Research
Center, an important project researching the causes and prevention
of childhood obesity.

The first half of the program consisted of 13 art songs, neatly
grouped by language. Villa performed all with skill, power, and
taste, paying careful attention to the nuances of phrasing, yet
effortlessly filling the hall with full, rich fortissimos when
needed. Few singers master the dramatic characterization essential
to opera while maintaining the introspective sensibility required
for art songs, but Villa seemed equally at home in both genres.
Grieg’s “Ich liebe dich” finished the first half with style, making
us all believe that he really did love us “more than anything in
the world, for time and eternity.”

After the intermission, opera took the stage, as Villa performed
arias ably introduced by Steven Kronauer, a faculty member of the
UCSB Music Department. In turns, Villa transformed himself from an
amorous ex-convict to a jealous husband and a few other things as
well. (In a show of great courage, Dr. Kronauer sang a line to
provide continuity in one scene.) In the end, as he performed two
encores, we were left with an image of his true self: a generous
and gifted artist, glad to be at home among his friends in a
magnificent concert hall.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.