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Music Reviews : Carol Neblett With Hardester Singers

May 20, 1986|DONNA PERLMUTTER

No one can accuse Carol Neblett of lacking loyalty.

A habitue of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, the Met and the Vienna Staatsoper is under no obligation to return to her humble beginnings--in this case, El Camino College and the Jane Hardester Singers--after shining in such illustrious places.

But there she was, Sunday night at Marsee Auditorium, happily transforming the nice little choral concert (an annual affair) into a glittering attraction.

Resplendent in a flowing white gown, the tall, Jean Harlow blonde seemed, at first, unable to breach the inevitable gap between her glamorous presence and that of the humble resident choristers.

Such discrepancies fell away, however, midway through a program that too ambitiously included excerpts from Haydn's "Lord Nelson" Mass and Brahms' "Ein deutsches Requiem" with meek piano accompaniments. By the time soloist Neblett & Co. came to more appropriate selections from Bach's Cantata No. 68, the soprano had warmed up--here was poised singing and pure, luscious tones and a coloratura flexibility matched by the chorus' buoyant rhythms, pretty vocalism and clarity of line.

Not surprisingly, it was the operatic highlights that showed Neblett to best advantage, except for Lady Macbeth's "Brindisi"--here badly miscalculated. In "Pace, Pace" from Verdi's "Forza del Destino," her full-throated outpourings were both gorgeous and dramatically exciting. Ditto Santuzza's great aria from "Cavalleria," where she called on a big, plangent sound that spilled over with liquid loveliness. This was preceded by the opening chorus, sung with great warmth.

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