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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Dan K. Kurland and Miles Mykkanen

Tenor Miles Mykkanen is mature beyond his years and versatile beyond belief. We have had the pleasure of hearing him sing and witnessing his compelling performances for several years now and are always astonished.  Yesterday he presented a recital at Juilliard as partial fulfillment of the requirements for his M.M. degree.  Importantly, it fulfilled all the requirements of audience engagement.

Our favorite parts of the program were the beginning and the end although there were delights aplenty in between. Ever since Lachlan Glen's perusal of all 600+ of Schubert's lieder output we have been more than usually excited when we see the name of this liedermeister on a program.

Mr. Mykkanen's three choices were perfect for his unique voice and style.  The lilting "Ganymed" is filled with rapture and left us with rapturous feelings. The tender "Der Vater mit dem Kind" was no less wonderful.  But it was the well-known "Erlkönig" that knocked our socks off.  The young artists at Juilliard have spoiled us for other performances with the intensity of their dramatic involvement but Mr. Mykkanen's performance was beyond.

He employed his impressive instrument with different colors for the narrator, the frightened child, the reassuring father and the deceitful Erlkönig. But he somehow managed to alter the colors from one verse to the next as the child becomes more terrified, the father in greater denial, and the Erlkönig nastier. This was the work of a true artist of the stage and Mr. Kurland's piano kept up with him every step of the way. We confess to being overwhelmed. We give credit to Goethe's poetry and Schubert's music, of course.

The following set, which Mr. Mykkanen thoughtfully introduced, comprised three selections from Benjamin Britten's Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo. These were written for Michelangelo's young male lover and Britten set them for his male partner, tenor Peter Pears. They were so passionately sung that one would think they were written for Mr. Mykkanen.

Having sung in such perfect German and Italian, Mr. Mykkanen moved on to French, also perfectly sung.  We heard Albert Roussel's "Sarabande", Gabriel Fauré's "Clair de lune" and Claude Debussy's "Le jet d'eau". French songs can sometimes sound a bit effete but not here!  Mr. Kurland's piano added to the magic with pictorializations of fountains and moonlight.

Mr. Mykkanen is one of the few singers whose English diction is likewise perfect. "Ain't it a pretty night" from Carlisle Floyd's Susannah was an unusual choice but made perfect sense as the longing Mr. Mykkanen experienced to move to New York City.

It was the closing set of Sondheim songs that best illustrated Mr. Mykkanen's versatility and the influence of Steven Blier and the New York Festival of Song. When sung without amplification, we accept Mr. Sondheim as composer of 20th c. operas and his songs can stand next to those of the old masters of the 19th c. (Mr. Sondheim may see things differently).

We were treated to a few songs from Sunday in the Park with George--"Putting it Together" was a bit revised to indicate that the art of which Mr. Mykkanen sang was the art of making music, not painting. No harm was done!  "Finishing the Hat" and "Move On" were equally excellent.

We particularly enjoyed songs from Company--"The Little Things You Do Together" and Mr. Mykkanen's encore "Being Alive".

But there were two songs about children that captured our heart--"The Glamorous Life" from A Little Night Music in which Mr. Mykkanen was able to illustrate both the pride a child has in a famous mother and also the loneliness.  And then the cautionary "Children Will Listen" from Into the Woods.

Mr. Mykkanen, as versatile as he is, can look forward to a major career whether he chooses opera, recital or Broadway.  Everything he sings is golden and he knows how to get a song across.  Once you hear him he is unforgettable!

(c) meche kroop

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