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, April 3, 2017


Kimberly Hann and Kristen Kemp

Vocal music is like champagne, you can have too much but you can never have enough.  This is what we thought whilst heading downtown for Kimberly Hann's graduation recital at Mannes just after attending a satisfying recital at the Morgan Library. Is this greed and gluttony? Was it time to show Mannes School of Music some love? Or was it the memory of Ms. Hann's outstanding performance with Cantanti Project as the warrior Orlando, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to Handel's beautiful music.

Ms. Hann calls herself a Contralto/Mezzo. She has the low notes but, as you can see in our photo, she is far too beautiful to portray witches and sorceresses, and way to feminine for trouser roles. We will just have to wait and see!  Perhaps someday, someone will write an opera for her unique assets. 

The program lasted only an hour but revealed a well rounded artist who has worked hard to earn her Master of Music degree. She began with two arias by Handel which expressed a great deal of feeling. From Alcina, she sang "E gelosia, forza e d'amore"; in this Act I aria, Bradamante comes to the sorceress' island to find her lover besotted by Alcina.  She expresses her jealous rage in vocal fireworks from the top of her register to the bottom.  Quite an opener, and very well handled by the gifted Ms. Hann.

In the challenging "Cielo! Se tu il consenti" from Orlando (an aria we heard her sing before), the warrior's jealousy is not only murderous but suicidal. Ms. Hann conveyed all the madness of the character. Handel is perfect for her voice and she attacked the fioritura with as much artistry as enthusiasm.

A total change allowed the audience to relax from all that intense excitement. Four melodic songs by Brahms elicited different moods. "Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer" takes us right to death's door with a dying woman begging her lover to come quickly. The last song "Von ewiger Liebe" is a real charmer and clearly Ms. Hann understands what she is singing about. Although we heard a slight alteration of color from the man's trepidation to the woman's reassurance, we would like to hear just a little more variety.

Tchaikovsky's songs are always welcome even though we do not understand Russian.  This is OK as long as the singer understands and communicates. This was beautifully conveyed in "Reconciliation". We loved the phrase "And try not to remember in winter How you picked the roses in spring!"

"None but the lonely heart" is yet another setting of Goethe's text "Nur wer die sehnsucht kennt" which we would not have translated as lonely.  It comprises yearning, longing, and anxiety. We would like to offer a prize to a reader who can name all of the composers who set this wonderful text. Someday we would like to hear all the settings on the same program.

Especially lovely was Ms. Hann's performance of the first four songs of Hector Berlioz' Les nuits d'ete. These gave Ms. Hann the opportunity to express a variety of moods and colors from the lighthearted "Villanelle" to the "liebestod" experienced by the rose in "Le spectre de la rose". The darker color of "Sur les lagunes" matched the sorrow of death and the teasing good humor of "L'ile inconnue" involves a man who promises a woman abundant fantasy until she lets him know what she really wants--fidelity.

It was a most satisfying recital and presages a fine future for this lovely young artist. We were glad we went.

Collaborative pianist was Kristen Kemp.

(c) meche kroop

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