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.
|Emma Lavandier, Eric Sedgwick, and Katrin Bulke
St. John's in the Village is rapidly becoming one of our favorite venues for recitals. Rector Graeme Napier is a fellow music lover and keeps his lovely sanctuary filled with music. Last night's musical offering was a lovely recital performed by soprano Katrin Bulke and mezzo-soprano Emma Lavandier, accompanied by the excellent collaborative pianist Eric Sedgwick. We have enjoyed all three artists on prior occasions and you will find several reviews of each by entering their respective names in the search bar, in which we described their respective vocal gifts.
What was particularly attractive about last night's recital was hearing French sung by a native French speaker and hearing German sung by a native German speaker. Mr. Sedgwick speaks perfect piano!
Another appealing aspect of the recital was the presence of many duets. The more duets we hear the better we like them. They seem to add up to even more than the sum of their parts as overtones meet overtones and create ear-tickling delights.
Take for example the duet between Giulietta (Ms. Bulke) and Nicklausse (Ms. Lavandier) from the Venice scene of Jacques Offenbach's only opera Les contes d'Hoffman.This Barcarolle always makes us smile and sway in our chair. Quelle belle nuit!
The "Flower Duet" ("Dôme épais") from Léo Delibes' Lakmé has transcended its popularization and remains one of the most gorgeous duets in the canon. To enhance the performance, the two singers entered together and somehow managed to create the verdant scene without any sets whatsoever.
From Richard Strauss' delightful comic opera Der Rosenkavalier we enjoyed the scene in which Octavian (Ms. Lavandier) presents a silver rose to Sophie (Ms. Bulke) and the two fall in love. The acting added to the singing and there was an actual silver rose which you can see if you look at the carousel of photos on our Facebook page, Voce di Meche.
Another charming duet was that between Hänsel (Ms. Lavandier) and Gretel (Ms. Bulke)--"Brüderchen, komm tanz mit mir" from the Humperdinck opera; both singers performed the dance together and we were smiling from ear to ear.
Even the encore was a duet, but one manufactured for the occasion. Ms. Bulke let loose with "The tipsy song" from Johann Strauss II's operetta Eine nacht in Venedig; the song is otherwise known as the "Annen-Polka" and is filled with clever rhymes like "prickelt und kitzelt"; if that doesn't make you chuckle there is something wrong with you! Meanwhile, Ms. Lavandier sang "Je suis grise" from the Offenbach operetta La Perichole. Performers just love to portray intoxication but there aren't many such arias written for female voices. If you can think of any, dear reader, please leave them in the comment section below.
Another special aspect of this recital was that each singer introduced her song and told what it was about. Each singer got to do a military number, which was cute. Ms. Bulke sang Marie's aria "Salut à la France" from Donizetti's charming comedy La fille du régiment and Ms. Lavandier performed "Ah! Que j'aime les militaires" from Offenbach's 1867 operetta La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein which we so enjoyed at the Santa Fe Opera in 2013 with Susan Graham in the title role.
There were other more serious pieces on the program, some of which were marred by the use of the detestable music stand. Readers are probably bored by our complaints so the less said the better. Suffice it to say that our attention wandered which gave us an opportunity to focus on the piano, so beautifully played by Mr. Sedgwick.
We enjoyed his playing even when the singer was totally present as was Ms. Bulke in some songs by the underappreciated Clara Schumann. He surely created the storm in "Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen" with some roiling in the piano but also provided some delicate arpeggi when called for.
It was an evening well spent in the presence of three fine artists.
(c) meche kroop