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.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Brian Zeger and Paul Appleby
Brian Zeger and Jamie Barton
Brian Zeger and Christine Goerke

What do these three artists have in common beside being Richard Tucker Award winners?

What sets them apart from the huge pool of excellent singers we have heard?

It would seem to be a combination of audience rapport and a deep understanding of the text. Singing is communication from the heart. If the singer understands on an emotional level what he/she is singing about and can get you to feel it too, you experience a connection that goes way beyond listening, way beyond hearing. The feeling borders on mystical.

Dramatic soprano Ms. Goerke, mezzo-soprano Ms. Barton, and tenor Mr. Appleby have all that and more. The technique of producing the sound totally disappears and one loses oneself in the song.  The listener becomes one with the singer. That's a rare gift.

Thanks to WQXR and their Greene Space we got to hear all three artists and to learn a bit about them as William Berger conducted interviews.  All three have exceptional personalities and were willing to share about themselves with candor.

Mr. Appleby's "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubern schön" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, was given a most winning performance. "Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden" from Schumann's Liederkreis is a real heartbreaker in strophic form and Mr. Appleby completely captured the shades of regret in each verse. The joy of William Bolcom's "New York City Lights" was equally captured.

It was during the interview that we learned about the contributions made to Mr. Appleby's love of language by his university studies as an English major. His love of poetry and the words it comprises is unmistakably evident.

Ms. Barton, known as The Down Home Diva, hails from Georgia and has deep feelings for music with a Southern slant.  Her bubbly personality would be enough to win us over but when she opens her mouth to sing, great depth colors everything. She generously spoke of her nurturing at the hands of the Tucker Foundation and from Marilyn Horne.

A pair of songs by Jean Sibelius--"Var det en dröm" and "Svarta rosor"-- were given a passionate performance in Swedish.  Equally fine was an aria from Ponchielli's La Gioconda--"Stella del Marinar". Everything Ms. Barton sings is golden. In the interview she told of how she loves to try new things.  What a future this young woman has!

Ms. Goerke is another fascinating artist and related how her lyric soprano changed rather early to a different fach and now she is singing Wagner and Strauss. She sang Strauss' "Cäcelie" and proved her point. But it was her performance of the Immolation Scene from Wagner's Götterdämmerung that totally blew us away.

At first, we thought she was channeling our favorite Brünnhilde, Hildegard Behrens, but we soon realized she brought her own essence to the part. It was noteworthy (no pun intended) and memorable.

Her performance of this scene was greatly assisted by Brian Zeger who was the collaborative pianist for all three singers. In the Wagner his pianistic skills were so finely honed that we could see the flames dancing.

We have been home for hours but we think the walls of the Greene Space must still be vibrating!

(c) meche kroop

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