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, November 11, 2016


Robert Osborne and Richard Gordon

In September we wrote about a private recital in which baritone Robert Osborne sang a number of unpublished songs by Franz Waxman. We are delighted to report that the songs will be published and that Mr. Osborne has recorded them under the title "Who Wants Love?" We were so impressed by his performance that we jumped at the chance to hear more.  Last night he performed them at the cabaret held at Cafe Sabarsky of Neue Galerie.

Franz Waxman can be said to have led three lives. He began composing in his native Germany and orchestrated Frederick Hollander's score for "The Blue Angel". He fled the Nazis in 1934. and lived in Paris for nearly a year where he continued to compose. Then he got an offer he couldn't refuse from Hollywood where he spent the rest of his life as a successful composer of film scores, his first one being "Bride of Frankenstein" in 1935. There would be 143 more!

Those familiar with his Academy Awards for "Sunset Boulevard" and "A Place in the Sun" may not even know of his vast legacy of cabaret songs and we are grateful to Mr. Osborne for bringing them to our attention.

Accompanied by Richard Gordon on the piano, Mr. Osborne sang them as only a true aficionado could, capturing every ironic nuance, every enthusiastic joy, every crumb of despair.  And he sang them in fine French and German and English.  He is every bit as adaptable as the composer. 

He is a superb actor and uses his expressive face and body to augment the expressiveness of his voice. He has many colors in his vocal palette and makes use of them all. He is also an excellent narrator and shared nuggets of information about each song.

There were funny songs about taxes and the financial crisis, sad songs about loneliness, optimistic songs about love, and jolly devilish songs sung with a twinkle in his eye.

Not only are the vocal lines melodic and singable but the writing for piano is filled with interesting riffs and harmonies.  Mr. Gordon is just the right collaborative pianist for Project Waxman!

We especially enjoyed one about impoverished bohemians feeling wealthy because of the young women of Montparnasse.  Whatever language Waxman wrote in and Osborne sang in, the text and music match up like wurst and senf.

The title song of the new CD "Who Wants Love" came from a film entitled "The Bride Wore Red" and was recorded by Billie Holiday. This is a CD you will want to add to your collection!

(c) meche kroop

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