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.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Minjung Jung and Seiyoung Kim

It was a nasty night of wind and rain and broken umbrellas but our trip to Juilliard seemed worthwhile, even though we were not able to stay for the entire program, due to a prior commitment.  It is always worthwhile to be introduced to young artists we may not have heard before.

First on the program was tenor Seiyoung Kim who has the lovely clean and warm tone that a young tenor should have.  His performance of songs by Schubert and Beethoven impressed us by its musicality.  We liked his phrasing, the clarity of his German diction, and the variety of dynamics with which he made the line interesting. 

His onstage presence is confident and unfussy with most of the expressiveness emanating vocally. The texts bore a great deal of repetition but his change of coloration made each repetition sound fresh.  Beethoven's upbeat "Adelaide" stood in contrast with the composer's downbeat "Resignation". Minjung Jung's piano accompaniment gave full throat to the nightingales!

From Schubert's oeuvre, he contrasted the melancholy "Erster Verlust" with the joyful and passionate "Ganymed", reminding us of Schubert's fortunate attraction to the poetry of Goethe.  There is much to be said, in terms of planning a program, for alternation of moods!

Perhaps that was what was missing from the set of Schubert songs performed by bass Andrew Munn who was accompanied by Nathaniel LaNasa. Songs written for the bass fach are generally dark but after a group of grim songs we noticed our spirits sinking and longed for something cheerful.  It was well that Mr. Munn ended with the sanguine "Der Schiffer".

The bass fach is a late-blooming one; Mr. Munn surely has the stuff at the lower end of the register but has plenty of room to develop the overtones that will make his voice more varied and interesting. He has a strong presence onstage and is generous with gesture.

The final singer we had time to hear was soprano Kathryn Henry, with the always excellent collaborative pianist Cherie Roe. She sang two chansons in graceful French that needed only a little refinement of the nasal vowels and more legato in the line, to be superbe.  In Cesar Franck's "Nocturne" we loved the top note floating effortless into the stratosphere.

Ernest Chausson's "Chanson Perpetuelle" is lengthy and sad but Ms. Henry kept it interesting.  We were sorry to leave before the final two sets.

(c) meche kroop

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