The amiably handsome Silva, making his debut with a professional American orchestra, easily won over Saturday's audience, the beauty and power of his voice crystal clear in the Plaza Theatre, which has a tendency to flatten the symphony's sound. He sang five arias in all, two of which are commonly known, even to novice listeners like me, and two of which are zarzuelas, a Spanish form of opera.
A woman near me exclaimed "Oh my" when the kid with the long, curly black hair strolled out in his tux. I think she spoke for many females in the audience. The power of his voice spoke volumes, too, once he started singing "La donna e mobile," an aria from Verdi's "Rigoletto" that's often used in movies and TV commercials.
It was the second piece on the program, but the first aria, and it served as a good way to ease the audience of about 1,200 into what followed. "Che gelida manina," from Puccini's "La Boheme," another frequently heard aria, allowed the boyish tenor to glide fluidly and effortlessly over the cascading notes...
Silva then returned in the second half for the two zarzuelas, Serrano's soulful "La roca fria del Calario" from "La dolorosa" and Sorozabal's stirring "No Puede Ser" from "La taberna del Puerto."
These pieces, perhaps closer to his heart, inspired more passion and animation from the Curtis Institute of Music student, who not only earned a standing ovation after the latter, but sang it again for the encore (the orchestra performed a prelude from Wagner's "Lohengrin" as the encore Friday).
It was apparent from the crowd's enthusiastic response, and Silva's own beaming smile, that he can connect with an audience. He's got the vocal goods to go with the looks, though he did seem to struggle — and lacked the same kind of power — with the lower part of his range. But you can just feel that his voice is just going to get bigger and better.
I had the privilege of standing a few feet away from him at a post-concert reception, where he sang "O Solo Mio" with a string quartet from Coronado High School. It had to be a thrill for them. It was a short but magical moment for those who watched.
Doug Pullen, El Paso Times, April 19, 2010