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, April 29, 2016


J.J. Penna and Kelsey Lauritano

Due to a prior reviewing commitment, we were only able to hear half of Kelsey Lauritano's graduation recital--from the Juilliard Vocal Arts Department--but it would be an understatement to say that it was well worth the mad dash to Juilliard followed by an equally mad dash to New York City Center.

By all measures, this mezzo-soprano has a wonderful future ahead of her. We have heard her sing cabaret music with New York Festival of Song; we have heard her sing Hugo Wolf songs in recital, and we have seen her performance as one of Mozart's "Three Spirits" last week at Juilliard in Die Zauberflöte.  We have even seen her sing and dance with fruit on her head.

So...we were not a bit surprised to hear her dazzle the audience at her recital.  She began with "Presti Omai" from Händel's Giulio Cesare--a difficult aria filled with long phrases requiring excellent breath control and flights of fioritura requiring flexibility. She succeeded admirably on both counts.

She has an engaging stage presence that invites the audience to share her pleasure. She exhibits consummate self confidence and never hangs onto the piano. She graciously shared with the audience her love for Debussy both in her introductory words and in her singing. In Trois Chansons de Bilitis she put her emphasis on the erotic, using her voice and gesture.

Learning about the three stages of the life of Bilitis, as expressed in the original poetry by Pierre Louÿs, added to our appreciation. In "La flûte de Pan", Bilitis achieves her sensual initiation. In "La  chevelure", she exhibits mature sexuality through her lover's dream. In "Le tombeau des Naïades", she is an older woman examining her youthful years. We have never enjoyed the songs more.

There were only two songs by Hugo Wolf in the next set, both from his Spanisches Liederbuch. First we heard  "Klinge, klinge, mein Pandero"; the text expresses both the joy of the dance and the anguish in the poet's heart. The original text by Alvaro Fernandez de Almeida was translated into German by Emanuel von Geibel, who also translated an anonymous text for the charming "Wer tat deinem Füsslein weh?"in which the singer gets to color her voice differently for the footsore woman and the man who wants to heal her pain.

We were obliged to miss Dominick Argento's setting of From the Diary of Virginia Woolf. 

We would like to highlight Ms. Lauritano's facility with languages. French and German are both difficult in different ways but she nailed them both. The fine collaborative pianist J.J. Penna accompanied in his customary fine style.

(c) meche kroop

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