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, February 10, 2014


Bryan Wagorn and Nadine Sierra
Soprano Nadine Sierra has earned her meteoric rise in the operatic firmament and yesterday, in a new-this-year season of vocal recitals has shown her mettle as a most engaging recitalist.  This young woman has it all--a silvery and focused soprano instrument, marvelous musicianship, perfect poise onstage, glamorous good looks and winning personality.

Along with the always excellent collaborative pianist Bryan Wagorn she delighted the audience who could not restrain themselves from applauding after every single song, and once before the song was over.  With great tact, she accepted the applause and moved on.  She is an artist from whom you cannot take your eyes--or your ears!

The first half of the program was Strauss, all Strauss and nothing but Strauss.  You won't hear any complaints from us on that account since it fits her voice like the proverbial glove.  If curator Matthew A. Epstein was responsible for that choice, we thank him.  We can never get enough Strauss. 

First we heard Acht Gedichte aus Letzte Blätter, Op10 with texts by Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg.  Ms. Sierra's fine vibrato and expressiveness well served the passionate "Zueignung", one of our favorites.  The jaunty "Nichts" followed and then the lovely "Die Nacht" on which Ms. Sierra impressed her own stamp of lovely stillness.  She seems to caress each word and lend it the appropriate color, and does she ever have a palette full of colors!  The set closed with the lyrically passionate "Allerseelen", another favorite of ours.  In that set, we particularly enjoyed Mr. Wagorn's pianism in "Die Vershwiegenen".

In the next set, Ms. Sierra's "Ständchen" was an invitation that no one could refuse; the charming text was by Adolf Friedrich, Graf von Schack who also provided the text for the following tender "Breit' über mein Haupt".  Have we ever enjoyed "Morgen" or "Cäcilie" more?  We think not!

The second half of the program began with Cuatro madrigales amatorios by Joaquin Rodrigo Vidre.  So you think you've heard them many times?  Think again.  Ms. Sierra invested them with deep Iberian feeling and rhythm.  The melismatic singing in "De los Alamos vengo, madre" was exceptional.

For Heitor Villa-Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5, Ms. Sierra was joined by the superb guitarist João Kouyoumdjian.  The text by Ruth Valladares Corrẽa was preceded and followed by the melody without words that allowed us to appreciate the beauty of the singer's tone.

The program concluded with Samuel Barber's Hermit Songs, Op.29.  Our favorite of this set was "The monk and his cat".  Ms. Sierra excels at painting a picture, but it is a picture that exists for just that moment in time, making it all the more precious.

Two encores were planned and the audience did not have to beg for them, a practice which we personally find distasteful.  The first was Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer" sung as a tribute to Marilyn Horne whom Ms. Sierra credited for all the guidance she received from her.  (Before you ask, we found Ms. Horne's version on youtube.com and yes, it is gloriously inspiring).  The second encore was "Cuando m'en vo" from Puccini's La Bohème, sung in honor of Barry Tucker whose Richard Tucker Music Foundation supports this valuable series.

ⓒ meche kroop

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