|Chris Reynolds and Kady Evanyshyn|
Mezzo-soprano Kady Evanyshyn is as luscious of voice as she is of appearance. She possesses a most welcoming stage presence and shows no evidence of anxiety; au contraire, her addresses to the audience were so relaxed we felt as if a friend had invited us to her parlor for some music-making. She is blessed with a gorgeous instrument of notable texture and has acquired fine technique and linguistic skills. Indeed, our prior hearings of her artistry have been through Glenn Morton's Classic Lyric Arts recitals--brief exposures but enough to have made us want to hear more.
We cannot say that the opening aria was cheerful but it served to show off her superb skill with early opera. "Disprezzata regina" is Ottavia's Act I lament from Claudio Monteverdi's last opera, the 1643 L'incoronazione di Poppea, which established the composer's reputation in the field of music theater. Poor Ottavia bemoans the fate of women chained to cheating husbands. As you may recall, Nerone is enamored of Poppea and casts his wife aside. Ms. Evanyshyn's lovely vibrato emphasized her grief.
A set of Schubert songs were performed in fine German--the lighthearted "An Sylvia" is such a joyful expression of admiration for the lovely eponymous Sylvia! His "Der Vollmond strahlt auf Bergeshohn" was written as incidental music for the play Rosamunde by Wilhelmina Christiane von Chezy. The libretto for the play has been lost and only partially reconstituted, but Schubert's music continues to delight audiences. We are pleased to tell you that things end well for the heroine, but this piece deals with separation and heartbreak; Chris Reynold's piano established the sadness with his minor key introduction whilst Ms. Evanyshyn's dynamic control served her well.
After the troubled text of "Die Liebe hat gelogen", we heard the impulsive "Rastlose Liebe", given a breathless feeling tone but executed with excellent breath control. Quite a feat!
The highlight of the evening was, for us, Modest Mussorgsky's nursery songs. We haven't heard them since Mary-Elizabeth O'Neill performed them at Juilliard two years ago. We loved them then and we loved them last night. They gave Ms. Evanyshyn plenty of opportunity to exercise her dramatic muscle and to use her bubbly personality.
With admirable vocal coloration, she sounded very much like a little boy, sometimes naughty and sometimes trying to please his nanny. This little boy is entranced by scary stories but ultimately prefers the funny ones. She also created the character of the nanny who loves her little charge but can get cranky and scold him. Oh, did that little boy sound aggrieved when punished for the cat's misbehavior!
When he says his bedtime prayers, he seems to have countless aunties and uncles that he rattles off to our great delight. And when he falls off his hobby-horse, the soothing words of his mother were given an entirely different coloration. Oh, how we long to hear Ms. Evanyshyn sing the entire cycle, of which we heard more than half.
Gabriel Faure's final song cycle L'horizon chimerique comprises four delicate songs that were given a light touch and sung with fine French style. They certainly showed off some diligent work at CLA's summer program in France. For this cycle, Arthur Williford took over from Chris Reynolds as collaborative pianist.
The final set comprised cabaret songs by William Bolcom, settings of pithy texts by Arnold Weinstein. In "Over the Piano", the voice has been given a melodic line but the piano has been given some abrasive harmonies. "George" is the tale of a cross-dressing opera singer who comes to a sad end, and "Amor" is that wonderfully tuneful and catchy creation that is usually given as an encore piece, one of which we never tire.
The encore piece was a tune the artist's parents played for her when she was a child. It was a cute and silly song with an uncredited composer and was dedicated to her parents who were in the audience. We stand in awe of an artist with the versatility to do credit to opera, lieder, and cabaret.
We looked back over the program and realized that the material was not what was creating our feeling of joy. It was the artist's joy in singing it that was so contagious. We are amazed to find such talent in an undergraduate! The best news we heard all day was that she will continue at Juilliard in the Masters of Music program so we will have the opportunity to hear her again. Well done Kady!
(c) meche kroop