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.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Art Williford, Valeriya Polunina, Eva Gheorghiu, Angela Vallone
For Voce di Meche, the greatest pleasure of Springtime is not the budding of the trees but rather the budding of vocal talent.  This is the time of year when music students get to give recitals.  We can think of no greater seasonal satisfaction  than witnessing these young artists whose full flowering we anticipate in the years to come.  It is a long journey for them and this is but one crucial step.

There will be more reviews this week but let us focus on last night's satisfying recital at Juilliard where we heard two fine sopranos, both students of Edith Wiens.

Eva Gheorghiu (no relation to Angela) has a crystalline tone and a fine sense of drama.  She performed two very different arias: "Frère! Voyez!" from Jules Massenet's Werther and "Prendi, per me sei libero" from Gaetano Donizetti's  L'Elisir d'Amore.  In the first, young Sophie tries to cheer up the morose Werther and Ms. Gheorghiu captured the spirit and nailed the French diction.

In the latter, Adina lets Nemorino know that she has bought back his military contract and that she loves him; she tells him with flights of rapturous coloratura, leaving us enraptured.

A quintet of songs by Prokofiev which she herself translated  permitted her to demonstrate a lovely diminuendo  and strength in the lower register.  Valeriya Polunina accompanied with a light sensitive touch and fleet fingering.

Soprano Angela Vallone, working with the excellent collaborative pianist Art Williford, performed songs in Russian, French and Swedish.  We just saw her three days earlier performing in a cabaret and were impressed by her versatility. 

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Nightingale and the Rose" has the most exotic melody and delighted the ear.  In Rachmaninoff's  lavish "In the silence of the mysterious night", Ms. Vallone allowed the passionate sentiment into her voice to fine effect.

A pair of Debussy songs--"Regret" and "Paysage Sentimental" were delivered in fine French that was understandable without the printed text.

But where Ms. Vallone truly shone was in the concluding set of songs by Jean Sibelius with which she clearly connected.  We have always loved "Var det en dröm?" but it was "Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings mote" that truly spoke (or, rather, sang) to us because of her deep involvement.

Stay tuned for more "buds" tomorrow!

© meche kroop

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