As beginnings go, the debut of the Bel Canto Symphony Orchestra was not an entirely unpromising event. Nor was it especially stellar, either.
Founded by Russian-born soprano Erica Tanenbaum to showcase young and underexposed singers, the 45-piece orchestra made its bow with seven vocalists in a program of operatic arias at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple Friday night.
The singing generally proved strong, although the amplification system gave everything an overbright, unsubtle quality. The vocal estates of all involved--including Tanenbaum, sopranos Julia Wade, Terri Hill, mezzo-soprano Dorothy-Jean Lloyd, tenors Dennis McNeil, Evan Kent, baritone Scott Watanabe--were never less than solid; indeed, there were fresh, young voices here.
The orchestra itself, however, remained a constant problem, scrappy at best, slugging it out through a messy "Barbiere di Siviglia" Overture to start things out and practically falling apart in accompaniment to a few of the singers. Conductor Joseph Doetsch has not gotten the group into anything like ensemble form.