|Sophia Muñoz and Avery Amereau
Let us begin by saying that we love Avery Amereau's voice. We have enjoyed listening to her as she made her way through the Juilliard Vocal Arts Department and last night's recital marked her upcoming achievement of a Master of Music degree. So many singers who are billed as mezzo-sopranos sound like sopranos who don't have the high notes; not so Ms. Amereau whose voice reminds us of a creamy chocolate stout, or maybe a Guinness. It is a very special voice. A true mezzo.
Last night we heard her sing Bellini with a warm Italianate song, Poulenc with fine French diction, Brahms in perfect German, and English in an emotionally demanding piece by Britten.
Bellini's songs require a long sustained line and Ms. Amereau's phrasing was just right. We loved the choice of songs which were all familiar to us. "Malinconia, ninfa gentile" has such a lilting melody but perhaps our favorite was "Dolente immagine di Fille mia" with its sorrowful image. The long lines were beautifully embellished.
In "L'abbandono" we appreciated the phrasing and dynamic control. In "Torna, vezossa Fillide", Ms. Amereau gave equal attention to tempi and to color, especially at the transition from major to minor key, as did Ms. Muñoz.
Poulenc's Banalités are always fun and we generally seem to favor the shorter ones like the languorous "Hôtel" and "Voyage à Paris", filled as it is with charm and excitement. In "Sanglots" we heard some really fine piano work from Ms. Muñoz.
Thanks to Ms. Amereau's programming skills, we heard for the first time (and hope it won't be for the last time) Two Songs for Viola and Alto, Op. 91 by Brahms. With the fortunate participation of violist Matthew Lipman we heard "Gestillte Sehnsucht" and "Die ihr schwebet" with its two catchy melodies, one in the viola and the other in the voice. Supported by Ms. Muñoz on the piano, the artists played off one another to the delight of our happy ears.
Our ears were not so happy with Britten's Phaedra. Readers may have anticipated that this 20th c. work would not be our favorite. It was very intense and we could admire the artist's delivery without wanting to hear it again. It is an emotionally demanding work and Ms. Amereau had the goods to deliver. We just didn't think Greek tragedy required such a musical interpretation. The words could have done as well in a dramatic reading.
We are happy to report that Ms. Amereau can be seen and heard in Carmen at the New York Opera Exchange, coming up in May. We are seriously excited about this and hope you will be as well. Watch on our Facebook page (Voce di Meche) for further announcements.
(c) meche kroop