Soprano Robyn Marie Lamp returns to Mechanics Hall with 'God's gift to the human voice'

·6 min read
Robyn Marie Lamp will present "From Giuseppe To Lenny: An Evening of Opera and Musical Theater" at Mechanics Hall.
Robyn Marie Lamp will present "From Giuseppe To Lenny: An Evening of Opera and Musical Theater" at Mechanics Hall.

WORCESTER — It's a return to the scene.

Acclaimed Florida-based soprano Robyn Marie Lamp made her first appearance in Worcester in March 2019 at Mechanics Hall as soprano soloist with the Worcester Chorus and Masterwork Chorus from New Jersey in a performance of Verdi's powerful Requiem presented by Music Worcester.

"It was wonderful. It was such an amazing experience," Lamp recalled. "It was just great to sing in Mechanics Hall. It's God's gift to the human voice."

The Italian opera composer's funeral Mass has become one of the most popular major choral works of all time. The 2019 performance was such a success that the Worcester Chorus and Masterwork Chorus will be performing Verdi's Requiem again in October, this time in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Lamp will once more be soprano soloist.

In the meantime, Lamp is returning to Mechanics Hall for a special concert at 7 p.m. May 17 titled "From Giuseppe To Lenny: An Evening of Opera and Musical Theater." That's Giuseppe Verdi and Leonard Bernstein. The concert, also presented by Music Worcester, is free but reservations are required.

You could also call it an engagement between engagements.

Lamp, who devised the program, will be joined by her friends and colleagues tenor Derrek Stark and pianist Gordon Roberts. Roberts was once mentored by Bernstein.

What sounds like an engaging concert has works by Bernstein (including from "West Side Story" and "Candide"), Verdi and Puccini arias and duets, and selections by Rogers & Hammerstein, Korngold, Victor Herbert and Marc Blitzstein. The complete musical line-up was still to be determined when Lamp spoke during a recent telephone interview. The performers are also likely to talk about the various pieces in between singing them.

With regard to singing, switching from opera to musical theater in mid-program "seems to come pretty naturally," Lamp said. "The Bernstein and the Rogers and Hammerstein are still very classical in nature."

'Stunning performance' in 2019

The 2019 performance of Verdi's Requiem was in celebration and appreciation of Chris Shepard’s 10 years as music director and conductor of the Worcester Chorus. Shepard is also the music director of the Masterwork Chorus. It seemed to make an impression on all who were there. Joyce Tamer, in her review for the Telegram & Gazette, wrote "As the stunning performance of Verdi’s setting of the Requiem Mass ended, the audience sat in respectful (and perhaps awed) silence for several seconds before standing as one to acknowledge an outstanding presentation."

Soloists Sahoko Sato Timpone, mezzo-soprano, left, and Robyn Marie Lamp, soprano, perform under the direction of Conductor Chris Shepard  at Mechanics Hall on  March 31, 2019.
Soloists Sahoko Sato Timpone, mezzo-soprano, left, and Robyn Marie Lamp, soprano, perform under the direction of Conductor Chris Shepard at Mechanics Hall on March 31, 2019.

The solo quartet also included Sahoko Sato Timpone, mezzo soprano, Jorge Pita Carreras, tenor, and Dashon Burton, bass-baritone.

Tamer said Lamp "has a radiant soprano voice which she handles with great expertise and ease. She plucked bell-like high As, Bs and Cs out of some celestial sphere, always interpreting the text with deep-felt emotion; her interpretation of the line 'I am made to tremble and fear' was truly affecting."

"I loved every minute of it," Lamp said. "I'm really excited to be getting back together with the same group for Verdi again at Carnegie Hall — another beautiful space to sing in."

But first she returns to the scene of her triumph in Mechanics Hall.

'Gratitude concert' from Music Worcester

After the 2019 performance of Verdi's Requiem, Lamp said she stayed in touch with Music Worcester Executive Director Adrien C. Finlay.

When she told him about "From Giuseppe To Lenny," Finlay subsequently booked the program for Music Worcester.

"This is an event we recently added to the schedule, and will be a free event that we are calling a gratitude concert," Finlay said. Music Worcester is hoping people will come out "to enjoy this token of our appreciation for donors and ticket buyers seeing us through these past two years." It's also a reminder to Music Worcester supporters about Lamp  ahead of her reprising her role in Verdi's Requiem in October, he said.

Lamp grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, and holds a Master of Music degree from Louisiana State University and a Bachelor of Music from Florida Atlantic University.

She has sung opera and oratorio or concert performances as a soloist, and in an earlier interview recalled "My voice got bigger and bigger.'' She practiced for a while at a friend's apartment rather than her own, as her apartment building had a noise ordinance, Lamp said.

Just before coming to Worcester in 2019, she filled in at the very last minute for a Southwest Florida Symphony performance of Verdi's Requiem after the soprano had fallen ill. The happening made the newspapers.

After 2019, Lamp was a resident at Boston Lyric Opera Company and was getting ready for a performance of the opera "Norma" when the pandemic shut everything down.

Established Amelia Island Opera

As COVID raged, Lamp moved to Amelia Island in Northeast Florida. With two fellow opera singers, Victoria Isernia and John Tibbetts II, Lamp formed Amelia Island Opera. They found an arts-friendly community eager to welcome more classical vocal music. "There was no opera. Not a lot of vocal music in the whole area," Lamp said. "That's kept me pretty busy."

As part of a community music walk Lamp sang from the porch of her home. Amelia Island Opera officially launched in August 2021, and so far has put on three concerts. The first was opera selections, the second was a Valentine's Day concert, and the third, performed May 4 and 7, was a version of "From Giuseppe To Lenny" similar to what will be performed in Worcester May 17.  

"It was great. We sold out our concert on Wednesday (May 4) and we had a really good reception," Lamp said.

There's no permanent home venue and not enough money for sets yet. Amelia Island Opera rehearses at local churches and has found two venues it likes to use — a church, and "a cute indie bookstore" with space upstairs that can seat about 130 people.   

For its new season, Amelia Island Opera is planning a program of two one-act operas.

"It's been really neat to learn about the administrative side of the business," Lamp said.

In terms of administering her singing career, however, Lamp said that between opera or concert work such as Verdi's Requiem, the concert work might be her preferred engagement.

"I know from doing both opera and concert work that opera is wonderful, but for long term career I think I would love to have a concert career where I sing (works such as) Brahms' Requiem with orchestras," she said.

"I'm obsessed with the voice and I'm not able to focus on the voice when I'm in costume."

That means making connections with organizations that facilitate that kind of concert work, "such as Music Worcester," she said.

But there's always opera back on the island.

"Amelia Island (Opera) — we'll keep it going." Lamp said. "If it gets too big for us to handle, we'll hire an executive director to keep it going for us."

'From Giuseppe To Lenny: An Evening of Opera and Musical Theater'

With Robyn Marie Lamp, soprano, Derrek Stark, tenor, and  Gordon Roberts, pianist. Presented by Music Worcester

When: 7 p.m. May 17

Where: Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St., Worcester

How much: Free General admission. Reservation required.  www.musicworcester.org

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Soprano Robyn Marie Lamp returns to the scene of a triumph - Mechanics Hall