|Ken Noda and Anna Christy|
This fine pair of musicians graced the Schimmel Center at Pace University yesterday afternoon and one could not imagine a finer way to spend a couple hours. Although the sun made one of its rare appearances, one was still happy to be inside listening to such lovely music.
Soprano Anna Christy is known to us through her appearances onstage at The Metropolitan Opera--notably as Olympia in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman, as Papagena in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and as Lisette in Puccini's La Rondine. We have also enjoyed her performances at the Santa Fe Opera and with New York Festival of Song. But yesterday was something special, hearing her up close and personal in the beautifully proportioned Schimmel Center.
Her well-focused high-lying soprano has the flexibility demanded by Händel and she opened the program with three arias: "Endless Pleasure" from Semele, "Angels Ever Bright and Fair" from Theodora and "O Had I Jubal's Lyre" from Joshua. Her one and only encore was from Giulio Cesare and sung in Italian. Regular readers won't have any trouble divining our favorite.
Mozart was given his due with two of our favorite songs--the charming "Das Veilchen" and the more intense "Als Luise der Briefe ihres ungetreuen". In Susanna's aria from Le Nozze di Figaro--(you know, the one where she teases Figaro), "Deh vieni, non tardar" Ms. Christy was able to reveal her mischievous side.
Schubert's songs revealed further riches in her ethereal and expressive voice. We are always charmed by "Die forelle" and "Heidenröslein" which are on the playful side while "Du bist die Ruh" is more tender. Ms. Christy knows how to float her voice up into the stratosphere without any strain whatsoever and she is in perfect control of her diminuendo. One holds one's breath!
For the second half of the program, we heard two songs by William Bolcom. "Amor" is usually sung as an encore and we have heard very little of the soulful "Waitin'" before yesterday.
On the other hand, we recently heard Aaron Copland's The Tender Land when presented by Chelsea Opera and were pleased to hear "Laurie's Song" once more.
Three lovely Japanese songs were on the program, dedicated to the two mothers of the two artists. How appropriate for International Women's Day! The three songs were all about memories and had simple tuneful folk melodies.
The final set on the program comprised four songs by Strauss--"Ständchen", "Morgen" (in which Mr. Noda played the very slow and very moving postlude with such feeling that we were nearly in tears), "Ich sehe wie in einem Spiegel" and "Cäcilie". Strauss may not be the best choice for Ms. Christy's very special voice. With her very youthful and sweet tone, the colors of the lighter repertoire seem more suitable.
Mr. Noda's collaborative piano was unfailingly supportive and the diligent teamwork was apparent. He mustered the requisite delicate touch and never overshadowed Ms. Christy. We have heard him play with many singers and he is always totally present, a true artist in his own right.
The audience was so thrilled that they applauded each and every song and rose for a standing ovation. We wager they were as happy to be there as we were. We are eagerly anticipating Ms. Christy's performance as Marie in Donizetti's Fille du Regiment next summer in Santa Fe.
(c) meche kroop