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.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Late 19th c. composer Hugo Wolf turned out songs as prolifically as Franz Schubert but "that's all he wrote".  Last night the Juilliard Songfest gave us the opportunity to hear dozens of his vocal settings of poetry by Edward Mörike sung by some of the finest talent at Juilliard.  The seven singers were coached and accompanied by Artistic director Brian Zeger who never fails to impress with his support of the singers.  The program was divided into three parts--On Nature, On Life and Death and On Love.

Soprano Deanna Breiwick was most impressive in "An eine Aeolsharfe" in which the phrases seemed to float in the air as the wind blew across the strings of the harp (the one in the poem, not onstage) accompanied by Mr. Zeger's delicate arpeggios.

Soprano Pureum Jo went from the amusing tale-telling of "Nixe Bisenfuss", accompanied by some rapid tinkly scale passages on the piano,  to the sorrowful "Das verlassene Mägdelein", easily taking us along with her complete involvement in the material.

Soprano Julia Bullock demonstrated the loveliest legato in  "Agnes" expressing the pain of an abandoned woman.  Mezzo Naomi O'Connell sang the somber "Denk'es, o Seele!" with considerable conviction.

Tenor Yujoong Kim was splendid in his sole selection "Verborgenheit"  ("Lass o welt") but left us wanting to hear more.  Baritone John Brancy was most impressive in the closing number, making the most of the humorous moments in "Nimmersatte Liebe".

Baritone Takaoki Onishi demonstrated his skills as a master storyteller in "Der Tambour", the story of a very young soldier who wishes his mother could join the campaign and look after him.  In a different vein, he fully conveyed the horror of "Der Feuerreiter".  As encore, we enjoyed the four lovely ladies singing "Auch kleine Dinge".

Each and every one of the singers sang each and every song as if they had lived it.  This was much more than a performance but more like an illustration of the art of lieder singing.  Bravi tutti!

(c) meche kroop

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