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.

Monday, August 11, 2014


In Sun Suh and Brenda Rae
The captivating and versatile soprano Brenda Rae performed a recital yesterday under the auspices of Performance Santa Fe with the gifted pianist In Sun Suh as her partner.  We loved Ms. Rae last year as Violetta; we loved her this year as Norina; we loved her in this recital.  We are trying to imagine what new kind of material she will do next but we are sure we will love it.

The recital comprised mainly songs about love in its many flavors and colors and Ms. Rae did justice to them all with her expansive and expressive voice and her communicative skills.  To open the program we heard five songs by Schubert.  We particularly enjoyed her opening number "Liebe schwarmt auf allen Wegen".  The text is by Goethe and espouses a truism that love is easy but fidelity is difficult to find.  The shift from major to minor in the piano was accompanied by a delicate shift in coloring from Ms. Rae.

"Heimliches Lieben" expresses a sanguine sentiment while "Vergebliche Liebe" expresses a more disappointed sentiment.  We adored the gentle contentment of "Du bist die Ruh" with text by Ruckert. In "Delphine" we focused on the stellar playing in the piano.

Mozart's concert aria "Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio" involved a woman pining for a man and has an exciting vocal line going up into the stratosphere.  We appreciated the exciting timbre of Ms. Rae's voice, her dynamic control and her phrasing.

But it was the three songs by Richard Strauss that really demonstrated what this major talent can do. Her voice seems made for Strauss.  The ethereal "Die Nacht" left a lasting impression.  In "Morgen", Ms. Suh's piano created a dreamy mood like a cushion for Ms. Rae's voice. "Morgenrot" is a joyful paean to the beloved decorated with some graceful arpeggios in the piano.

The recital closed with a half dozen songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff of which Ms. Rae graciously related she had heard first from her friend Erin Morley, another one of our favorite sopranos who was also in the audience.  "At Night in My Garden" revealed some delicious descending chords in the piano. The sadness of "To Her" gave way to the sweetness of "Daisies".   The final song "A-oo" was filled with anxiety in both voice and piano and seemed not to resolve.

Thus, we were very happy to have Strauss' "Amor" as an encore.  Perhaps this was our favorite of the entire recital.  The wild flights into the upper register perfectly suited Ms. Rae's splendid technique.
This recital was the final entry in Performance Santa Fe's Festival of Song.  Perhaps next year we will extend our stay to encompass the entire festival.  The artists chosen were all of the highest caliber.

If you have not yet seen Ms. Rae as Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, we urge you to do so. Perhaps you will enjoy the production more than we did but you will definitely agree on the quality of the singing.

(c) meche kroop

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