We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Art Williford and Laura LeVoir
When we hear young singers we naturally have higher expectations of those further along in their career than we do of, let us say, undergraduates.  But sometimes we hear someone whose performance exceeds their level of education.  Such was the case last night when soprano Laura LeVoir, about to receive her Bachelor of Music Degree from Juilliard,  captivated our eyes and ears with a completely stage-worthy and accomplished performance.

Equally adept in Italian, German, French and English Ms. Levoir seemed ready to captivate any audience with her secure vocal technique, poise and consistently fine diction.  She has a warm and welcoming stage presence that seems to invite you into her world of song.

She opened the program, accompanied by the excellent collaborative pianist Art Williford, with three Italian songs.  In Vincenzo Bellini's "Vaga luna, che inargenti", she made the most of the long and luscious vocal lines we love so well.  We don't recall hearing Verdi's "Ad una stella" or Puccini's "Sole e amore" on many recital programs but we certainly want to hear them again.

Accompanied by Zsolt Balogh, she next sang selections from Robert Schuman's Liederalbum für die Jungend.  These are charming songs about the sandman, shepherds, a butterfly, a snowdrop and the welcome arrival of Spring.  Ms. Levoir makes a fine story-teller but never lets the dramatic emphasis interfere with her superb vocal technique. 

For "Viola" Schubert's lengthy tale of the arrival of Spring and the lonely snowdrop, Mr. Williford returned and provided sensitive piano interludes between the many verses.  His playing was sensitive and supportive throughout indicating a fine sense of partnership with Ms. Levoir.

The three delicate French songs which followed had all been translated by Ms. LeVoir herself and fulfilled all the Gallic requirements; the vocal line was even without any troubling emphases and the diction was perfect.  One was by André Caplet, one by Lili Boulanger and one by Francis Poulenc.

The program closed with selections from Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson set by Aaron Copland.  Mr. Williford had some interesting moments on the piano in "Nature, the gentlest mother" and Ms. LeVoir created a wonderful moment in "Why do they shut me out of Heaven?"  But our favorite was the last song "Going to Heaven!" which hints at the loss of children and was very moving.

The audience was thrilled throughout and showered Ms. Levoir with applause and roses.  Thus, an encore was earned--George and Ira Gershwin's 1937 hit "They Can't Take That Away From Me".  Ms. LeVoir graciously thanked the audience and her family, her teacher Edith Bers and all the people who contributed to her growth.  They can be Very.  Very.  Proud!  This is a young woman to watch!  We had the same feeling the first time we heard Isabel Leonard sing and expect no lesser success of Ms. LeVoir.

© meche kroop

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