|Shiyu Tan, Katelan Terrell, Dashuai Chen, and Jessica Fasselt
As you may already know, Opera Index has been supporting young singers for a very long time--both with generous financial awards and also with performance opportunities.
Sunday afternoon's Award Winners Recital was just one of many events offered by Opera Index; if you were there you enjoyed one of the best recitals of the season; if you were not, you missed a very special event and an introduction to two up-and-coming opera stars.
The recital was well balanced in terms of mixing up opera and lieder with some operetta thrown in, as well as a Chinese folk song that made us want to hear more. Regular readers know how much we appreciate music from around the world!
Both soprano Jessica Faselt (forget Fafner) and tenor Dashuai Chen are artists to watch. We foresee a brilliant future for both of them. Ms. Faselt was accompanied by one of our favorite collaborative pianists--Katelan Terrell who has the softest of hands and an uncanny ability to breathe with the singer and provide superb support. Shiyu Tan is new to us but we enjoyed her accompaniment a great deal and look forward to hearing more of her.
Ms. Faselt, about whom we have written a great deal, has a magnificent instrument that is consistent throughout the register and imbued with gorgeous color. She also knows just how to use her body and face to amplify the text; she is a born storyteller.
Just listen to her command of the Faust story in Schubert's "Gretchen am Spinnrade". She drew us in and allowed us to experience all of Gretchen's yearning for and idealization of Faust. Meanwhile, Ms. Terrell kept the spinning wheel spinning in the background with periodic underpinnings of Gretchen's anxiety. We have never heard a better performance of this incredible lied.
She has a wonderful feeling for Strauss as evidenced by her performance of two of his Four Last Songs. Both "Frühling" and "Beim Schlafengehen" were heartfelt; a dramatic arc leading up to an expansive soaring top gave us several thrills. We loved the melismatic passages and the manner in which the mood was sustained between verses.
Wagner's "Dich, teure Halle" was sung with impressive emotional range.
Her French in Duparc's "Chanson triste" was lovely and we admired her facility with pianissimo singing.
Mr. Chen also sang a Duparc song and manifested some fine French in the lovely "Phidylé"; if we wanted someone to sing us to sleep we would want to hear his dulcet tones. He has a lovely instrument that pleased us most in the middle register. We loved the colors with which he invested Schubert's ethereal "Nacht und Träume". His utilization of dynamic variety was exemplary. It was all in the voice; there was very little gesture.
Later in the program, he seemed to relax and to use his body more. Some music lovers prefer a singer to stand still but we prefer gesture!
Mr. Chen made an excellent Edgardo in "Tombe degli avi miei...Fra poco a me ricovero" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, drawing us right into the hero's loss and pain. This dramatic intensity was not quite as present in Don Ottavio's "Il mio tesoro intanto" from Mozart's Don Giovanni. Perhaps loyalty is more difficult to demonstrate than sorrow! Perhaps the tempo was taken too fast, not leaving room for much emotion, but we didn't know who this Don Ottavio was. Nonetheless, the singing was gorgeous, with the excellent breath control needed to provide sustained tone during the long melismatic passages.
The audience's favorite seemed to be Leoncavallo's "Mattinata" in which he captured the Italianate spirit of the piece. Similarly "Dein ist mein ganzes herz" from Franz Lehar's Das Land des Lächelns was given an expansive delivery which drew us right in.
Our personal favorite was a Chinese song about lost love. We had "the feels".
There was only one issue that we think could be improved; like so many other tenors, Mr. Chen tends to push for a larger than necessary volume in the upper register. Scorca Hall is not a large room and we would have preferred his taking things down a notch.
The two artists created some romantic magic in "O soave fanciulla" from Puccini's La boheme. Both dramatically and vocally, it was flawless and involving. We never tire of scenes involving romantic chemistry!
Those of you unfamiliar with Opera Index are hereby encouraged to get familiar. Through Opera Index, we have been exposed to some great talents at early stages of their careers. Award winners have gone on to great success. There is a membership party on November 13th with more singing, and a potluck dinner with wine--surely an event worth attending. Bear in mind that the cost of membership is a paltry sum and includes the party!
© meche kroop