Love is in the air--and it stinks!
by Casey Ann Reinke for Vocal Area Network
Posted February 8, 2016

Lauren Alfano, George KasarjianEnsemble Leonarda (Susan Graham, flute; Claire Smith, violin; Arnie Tanimoto, gamba; Nancy Kito, harpsichord) will present a program entitled "Damn! Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word" on Sunday, February 21, 2016, at the French Church du St. Esprit, 109 East 60th Street, New York City. The program features music of Telemann, Purcell, Monteclair and Monteverdi exploring stories of love gone wrong. Tickets are $20; students and seniors $15. For further information about this concert and the rest of Ensemble Leonarda's season, please visit www.ensembleleonarda.com.

Harpsichordist Nancy Kito, a founding member, explains: “Let’s face it, the path to love is never smooth. The really interesting, juicy stories are about thwarted love, unrequited love and love gone wrong. Guinevere and King Arthur, fine, but the Guinevere and Lancelot story is much more interesting. Rick and Ilse Lund were magic together (Victor Laszlo was a nice guy, but…). We thought since the concert is close to Valentine’s Day (which is probably run by a big eastern syndicate with large interests in the greeting card and chocolate industries), it might be fun to do a concert that would look at loves won and lost, and the pain and the heartache which makes love immortal. Even completely evil persons are pledging undying love to each other in beautiful songs that give you goose bumps. Such is the power of Cupid’s arrow.”

Soprano Lauren Alfano and tenor George Kasarjian (who replaces Sorab Wadia, unavailable due to a family emergency) will guest star. “They’re a wonderful addition to the program; they really bring the arias to life,” says Kito. “From the heights of all-consuming passion down to the depths of despair at being scorned and abandoned.” Soprano Lauren Alfano completed artist residencies with Underworld Productions Opera and New York Lyric Opera. She performs as an oratorio soloist and recitalist, and with her ensemble, Duo Moderne. Tenor George Kasarjian has been heard in numerous operas throughout the U.S., and sings with the Hampton Synagogue Choir, Mr. Kasarjian is also one of the founding members of Opera Collective, a group dedicated to making opera more accessible via free and low cost public performances and educational outreach.

Is Kito saying that "happily ever after" is not all it’s cracked up to be? “I’m saying it’s perhaps not as interesting. Even Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical about ‘happily never after’ called Into the Woods, so it’s not just us. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find some chocolate, preferably Belgian! See you on February 21.”

Editor's note: This article was updated on February 15 to reflect the replacement of Sorab Wadia by George Kasarjian.

Casey Ann Reinke is a pianist and freelance writer in New York City.