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 10, 2016


Brent Funderburk and Onadek Winan

It is testament to Juilliard Vocal Arts Department that the young artists who come to study are the cream of the world's crop. The soprano who gave such a stunning recital yesterday is about to receive her Bachelor of Music Degree but has been singing professionally and winning awards since the age of 15! Her talents have been shared by France, the country of her birth, and New York. We are fortunate to have had her here.

Accompanied by the fine collaborative pianist Brent Funderburk, soprano Onadek Winan presented a fine and varied program that gave evidence of her technical prowess, her linguistic skills, and also of an engaging stage presence.

She has a glamour which is innate and not "showy", an abundance of expression that is never "fussy", and a bright sound that opens up at the top like a parasol.

She began her program with Cleopatra's Aria "Che sento? O Dio!" from Händel's Giulio Cesare. Händel's arias do go on, and it is up to the singer to provide sufficient variety to sustain the listener's interest; at this, Ms. Winan succeeded admirably. There were many colors to Cleopatra's pathos and we particularly enjoyed the slow section with her variety of dynamics and clarity of fioritura. What god would not listen to her plea to protect her man!

We enjoyed hearing the 1894 song cycle by Gabriel Fauré--La bonne chanson--a collection of songs centered around (what else?) love and nature, with text by Paul Verlaine.  Ah, l'amour et la belle nature! Ms. Winan related warmly to the audience, telling them how she learned this cycle ten years ago at the conservatory in Paris, and just now was getting to perform it.

Our favorite was "La lune blanche" but we were also thrilled by the melding of voice and piano in "J'ai presque peur, en vérité" with its ABBA rhyme scheme. The soft-handed Mr. Funderburk limned the quail and the lark mentioned in "Avant que tu ne t'en ailles".

Sophie's Aria from Act II of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier involves the young girl's reaction to the handsome young aristocrat who comes presenting her with a silver rose. With language that attempts to obscure her attraction to Octavian Count Rofrano (since she is supposed to wed the ill-mannered Baron Ochs), she sings of the "fragrance" of the rose and her delight. This was all captured in Ms. Winan's performance, who definitely has the voice for Strauss!

The program ended with Roger Quilter's "Love's Philosophy" and we were indeed sorry that there was no encore.

(c) meche kroop

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