Philadelphia’s famed heat and humidity was the perfect clime as prima diva Angela Brown sang ’Summertime’ from ’Porgy & Bess’ an encore that was accompanied by an on cue breeze. Brown, stunning in a tight turquoise opera gown was center stage at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park. Last month the Fabulous Philadelphians were in Vail, Colorado, next month they are in Saratoga NY, but this week they are in the final week of their summer season in Philly.
Rossen Milanov, musical director of the summer series, conducted Brown in a program of Verdi arias including the overture to La forza del destino, Ritorna vincitor” from Aida and “Tu, che le vanità” from Don Carlo. As thrilling as it was to hear Angela, the orchestra was just as thrilling in its powerful reading of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony no. 2. This is a lengthy piece, with a lot of symphonic undertow and vaulting progressions. Highlights in this performance were the understated decrescendos, the overlapping tremolo runs and the concussive pre-codas. Milanov is a specialist of Russian, Slavic and Eastern European music. This was a brilliantly balanced interpretation of Rachmaninoff.