Brünnhilde made a guest appearance Friday night in the middle of J.S. Bach's joyous Cantata No. 51 (``Jauchzet Gott!"), a piece usually sung by lyric sopranos of the Kathleen Battle mold. On the word ``Alleluja," a remarkable high C came out of the mouth of Barbara Quintiliani and, parting audience members' hair on the way, blazed out of Faneuil Hall into the night sky.
Quintiliani, the Quincy native who is making good on regional opera stages, was the guest soloist in an all-Baroque concert by the Boston Classical Orchestra and the Boston Cecilia chorus, led by Steven Lipsitt. The unusual program included two of Bach's solo cantatas (the other was No. 202) and four choruses of praise, plus Handel's Royal Fireworks Music and the finale from his ``Ode to St. Cecilia's Day." It was almost too much of a good thing, but not quite.
Throughout, one enjoyed the orchestra's string ensemble, the Cecilia's careful phrasing, obbligato turns by oboist Barbara LaFitte and violinist Sandra Stecher Kott, the cello continuo of Mark Simcox, and Lipsitt's elegant beat.
The Fireworks Music, which the orchestra was performing for the first time in its 27 years, was not helped by Faneuil Hall's acoustics. They are fine for smaller groups, but in this piece, the trumpets, horns, and woodwinds (reinforced in threes) overwhelmed the strings, and tuning became difficult.
The 29-year-old Quintiliani, a graduate of the New England Conservatory, has been singing heavy opera roles; last spring it was Lucrezia in Opera Boston's production of Donizetti's ``Lucrezia Borgia." This was the first time she has sung Bach in public . And it's a good idea: Baroque music will help keep her big, dramatic voice light and flexible. Her runs were not always easy, but she carried through with a smile, and in the quiet recitatives she delivered the German words expressively, helped by a warm middle voice.
She reminded me of the great Eileen Farrell, who sang with the Bach Aria Group before going on to the big American opera houses. Quintiliani is on that same path. Let's hope she takes her time.