MISSION

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 18, 2014

HE'S A VERY NAUGHTY BOY

Eric Idle, Victoria Clark, William Ferguson, Lauren Worsham and Marc Kudish
photo by Erin Baiano














“Tis the season to be jolly... and jolly we were Monday night at Carnegie Hall when the Collegiate Chorale presented the New York premiere of NOT THE MESSIAH (He’s a Very Naughty Boy).  Inspired by Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, the work can be taken as a parody of the life of Jesus, in the form of an oratorio.  But what an oratorio!  We lost count of how many different styles of music we heard—mariachi, flamenco, country, Doo-wop, spirituals and a quartet of bagpipers, members of New York Metro Pipe Band.

Not only is it the season for jollity but it also seems to be the week for parody and gender bending.  Not only have we enjoyed the parodies of Christmas songs brought to us by New York Festival of Song (see prior review) but also the parody of ballet brought to us by Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo in which men get on point and get us to giggle over every classical ballet trope.  

In order to create effective parody one must have great affection for the thing one is satirizing.  We are reminded of the late (but not forgotten) La Gran Scena Opera Company that parodied great divas with great affection.

In this case, the Mother of the non-Messiah is named Mandy and her baby, fathered by a Roman, is named Brian.  Broadway star Victoria Clark, a mezzo-soprano, sang the role of Mandy with her usual pizazz and opera star William Ferguson lent his sweet tenor to the titular role.  His love interest (Yes!) named Judith was winningly sung by soprano Lauren Worsham who slips into operatic roles as easily as she does into cabaret and Broadway. Ms. Worsham and Mr. Ferguson sang so beautifully together we mentally cast them as Candide and Cunegonde.

Eric Idle narrated and sang while successful contributions came from bass Marc Kudisch. The stage was filled with the splendid Orchestra of St. Luke’s backed up by the enormous Collegiate Chorale whose singing was so perfectly in unison and so imbued with fine diction that we understood every word. More credit to Ted Sperling, Director and Conductor!

Not so with much of the other singing which was “enhanced” by body mics rendering much of the very clever dialogue muffled.  This was the only flaw in an otherwise sensational evening of broad satire and belly laughs. Happily, Mr. Ferguson and Ms. Worsham managed to be understood. When lyrics are that clever we want to hear every word. Titles would have been welcome.

In “We Love Sheep”, Lynne Marie Rosenberg came onstage with three very realistic looking sheep who opened their mouths to sing along, creating an unparalleled moment of glee.  

Mr. Ferguson’s solo “I Want to Change the World” was incredibly moving and Mr. Idle’s “I Want to Be a Girl” was incredibly hilarious. Mr. Kudish had a very funny song “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us”, a good satire of colonialism. 

Brian wants freedom from Roman rule and peace for his people; he joins The People’s Front of Judea and meets Judith.  They are caught in flagrante delicto by his mother.  Brian is just a very naughty boy, or so says his mother. Judith sings the lovely “You’re the One”.  The people are convinced he is the Messiah.  He denies it.  They insist. They find his sandal and, in a Cinderella moment, track him down. Mr. Kudish was particularly funny in “Hail to the Shoe”.

Nothing is sacred to Monty Python nor to Mr. Idle and Mr. Du Prez.  Even the crucifixion becomes an object for laughter.  Mr. Idle portrays a poor guy who gets crucified every morning and taken down every night.  The closing song was “Always Look on the Bright Side”.

Significantly, no one walked out in protest.  We can assume that the delighted audience knew exactly what they were getting into.

(c) meche kroop

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THE FIFTH EDITION

Joshua Breitzer, Joshua Jeremiah, Ben Bliss, Olivia Betzen, Alex Mansoori, Wallis Giunta and John Brancy

Last night marked the fifth edition of Steven Blier's annual Christmas treat as part of the "Sing for Your Supper--NYFOS After Hours" series hosted by the affable Henry at the eponymous friendly and comfortable Upper West Side restaurant. These delightful evenings always have a theme and the theme for the December show is (trumpet fanfare) "A Goyishe Christmas to you!--Yuletide Songs by Jewish Composers".

The beloved Steven Blier serves as pianist, arranger and raconteur, regaling the appreciative audience with anecdotes and gossip about the composers, in this case many Jewish composers who had changed their names.  For example, Frank Loesser composed "Baby It's Cold Outside" to sing with his wife; the song was picked up for the show Neptune's Daughter and the couple divorced.

The song was performed by mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta and baritone John Brancy and we feel as if we actually heard it for the first time.  All the seduction lay in the voice and gestures; it seemed as if it were a scene in a film.  If this pair is not opera's next glamour couple we will eat our program!  

Rémy Yulzari joined them on the double bass and also accompanied Ms. Giunta in her lovely solo "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" also by Loesser.  His bass playing equalled the expressiveness of her singing.  The instrument fairly spoke.  Or sang.

Mr. Brancy also had a solo--he sang "O Holy Night" by Adolphe Adam (possibly Jewish but evidence is contradictory) in both English and French; his voice has such a wealth of expressiveness behind it that we were moved close to tears.  He also provided an encore later in the evening--"I'll Be Home For Christmas".

Mr. Blier is fond of gender bending and "Winter Wonderland" was given a new slant, performed by Mr. Brancy and Joshua Jeremiah, accompanied by clarinetist Alan Kay. The cosy pair in their winter hats had the audience in stitches, especially when they were pretending the snowman was Parson Brown.

Even more gender bending was enjoyed when excellent tenor Ben Bliss (just seen at The Metropolitan Opera in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) sang one of the songs made famous by Eartha Kitt--"Santa Baby", written by Joan Javits in the 50's.  Here it was called "Santa Buddy" with appropriate rewriting of the Christmas list.

There was humor aplenty in the course of the program.  Joshua Jeremiah was hilarious in "Candle in My Window", also known as "God Bless the Christmas Jew" by Levitsky and Miller.  He has an expansive way of getting a song across as we noted in his duet with Cantor Joshua Breitzer--"Hannukah in Santa Monica", a Tom Lehrer song filled with his customary wit. They were accompanied by Mr. Kay who surely has a Klezmer background.

Cantor Breitzer regaled the audience with a Yiddish version of "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer".  Even if we didn't understand the words we enjoyed the sound of the language and the spirit of fun.  Mr. Kay and Mr. Yulzari accompanied.

Alex Mansoori contributed yet more fun to the evening with David Friedman's very funny "My Simple Christmas Wish" to which he gave a most theatrical delivery.  He also showed another side in "Silver Bells" (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) which, as explained by Mr. Blier, refers to the Salvation Army collecting money for the less fortunate.  Now that's something we did not know and perhaps neither did you.

The entire group, joined by Olivia Betzen opened and closed the program with ensemble arrangements of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" involving some lovely humming in harmony.  There was also a jolly encore of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree".  Let it be noted that the English diction was excellent.  We would not have wanted to miss a single word.

It was a fine show leaving the audience happy as can be.  Too bad we must wait a year for the next edition.

© meche kroop





Monday, December 15, 2014

LOTNY DOES FLOYD

Angela Mannino, Matthew Tuell and Tyler Putnam in Markheim (photo by Tina Buckman)
John Kaneklides and Carolina Castells in Slow Dusk (photo by Tina Buckman)

A double bill of Carlisle Floyd music-theater pieces was presented this past week by the ten year old Little Opera Theater of New York  with two rotating casts.  The first piece Slow Dusk was the composer’s first opera, written in 1949, and suffers from a less than dramatic libretto, Floyd’s own.  He presents himself a the poet of rural America just as Stephen Sondheim is the poet of late 20th c. Manhattan.  

The story concerns a young woman Sadie, beautifully sung by soprano Carolina Castells, who performed a lovely aria filled with foreboding.  Sadie is in love with young Micah, perfectly sung and acted by tenor John Kaneklides whose star is on the rise.  Their marriage is forbidden by Aunt Sadie and the reason had to be learned by consulting Wikipedia.  The exposition might have been given by Aunt Sue, sung by Janice Meyerson, whose interesting mezzo was marred by poor diction.  English is quite difficult to sing in a way that the audience can comprehend but the other three singers succeeded admirably.  Unfortunately Ms. Meyerson’s acting was way over the top and not in line with the mood of the piece. Baritone Robert Balonek made a fine appearance as Jess but we never figured out if he was Sue’s uncle or brother.  That’s what happens when one can’t understand the words.

The chamber orchestra comprised nine strings, harp, four winds and a wonderful percussionist (Charles Kiger) led by the excellent conductor Richard Cordova, who brought out all the nuances of Floyd's instrumental writing. The chamber arrangement by Inessa Zaretsky and Raymond J. Lustig worked well, even without a clarinet. The winds were particularly evocative over a carpet of sound laid down by the strings.  The orchestra nearly stole the show since Floyd’s vocal lines struck our ears as being less than melodic. 

The direction by Philip Shneidman was effective and Neil Patel’s simple set (lit by Nick Solyom) evoked an impoverished rural farm in the South.  Lara De Bruin's frumpy costumes were right on target.  The same excellent team was responsible for the more dramatically interesting Markheim which Floyd adapted from a Robert Louis Stevenson story in 1966.  It is a gothic tale taking place at Christmastime in 1880 in a pawnshop.  This gave Patel and De Bruin an opportunity to show their stuff.  The set looked exactly the way one would expect and the Victorian costumes were superb.

The singing was excellent all around.  Tenor Brent Reilly Turner created a very disagreeable pawnbroker of the Ebenezer Scrooge ilk. His ringing sound lent weight to the role as he toyed with his client, the reprobate aristocrat Markheim who has squandered his family fortune by gambling and is under the gun to repay some cutthroats.  He is guilty of theft, seduction and abandonment, blackmail and extortion—another thoroughly unlikable character.  But oh, what a fine baritone has Tyler Putnam whom we well remember from last summer at the Santa Fe Opera!  Both men’s acting was convincing.

It came as no great shock when Markheim strangled the pawnbroker who refuses to lend him money on a stolen work of art.  Enter….The Stranger!  This character, excellently portrayed by tenor Matthew Tuell, might be the devil and he might be a hallucination but he tries to provoke the eponymous anti-hero to murder Tess, the maid who is returning to the shop to retrieve a parcel.  Soprano Angela Mannino has a lovely stage presence with voice to match and the only character about whom we could care.  We were quite relieved when Markheim decided to spare her life and asked her to call the police.  This is evidence for the dramatic success of the story.

The work was bookended by a quartet of carolers comprising Ms. Castells, Ms. Meyerson, Mr. Kaneklides and Mr. Balonek, all from the curtain-raiser.  The overall quality of the production suited us more than the material.  But that’s just a consequence of our 19th c. Italian ears.

(c) meche kroop

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A MACBETH OF ANOTHER COLOR

The brilliant cast of Ernest Bloch's Macbeth at Manhattan School of Music

The opening scene of the opera presented the three witches on a windswept heath in Scotland.  The eerie music gives aural representation to the visual image of three very scary creatures cavorting on a battlefield of fallen soldiers--plucking out eyes, cutting off hands and drinking blood.  World class director Dona D. Vaughn has made sure that we get the message right from the start.  Wars are born and bred in hell and only hellish creatures reap the "benefits".

The witches were fantastically costumed by Daniel James Cole with Hair and Makeup Designer Anne Ford-Coates' contributions; branches sprouted from their heads and the herky-jerky movements of their fingers became twiglike.  The three singers portraying the witches gave evidence of intense instruction in movement as well as voice; they were soprano Anna Dugan, mezzo Minyoung Kim, and mezzo Michelle Siemens.  Their fine work established the mood for a riveting evening of musical drama.

Ernest Bloch's Macbeth premiered in Paris at the Opéra-Comique in 1910 with a libretto by Edmond Fleg, who adapted it from the Shakespeare play.  It hews fairly closely to the original play with liberties taken for musical and dramatic purposes. Comparisons with Verdi's opera are unnecessary.  This is a very different work and stands on its own as an underappreciated masterpiece.  Thankfully, it was sung in the original French--for the first time in the USA. The phrasing and inflection of the language and music were admirably consonant; we would not wish to hear this opera in English!

There are no longueurs here; the work moved along at a rapid pace sustained by the propulsive music which seems to serve the psychology of the characters.  By turns mysterious, alarming, seductive, cacophonous, or introspective it gave us insight into the thoughts and perceptions of the characters.  Fortunately, the French conductor Laurent Pillot was on hand to guide the fine players of the Manhattan School of Music Orchestra.  The winds were particularly on point.  The textures and harmonies of Bloch's music are compelling.  At times we heard echoes of Debussy; at other times we thought of Richard Strauss. The interludes between scenes were astonishingly beautiful.

The singing was superb all around with French diction so accurate that we were actually able to understand the words.  In the titular role we were impressed by baritone Robert Mellon whose full-throated voice sailed over the orchestra.  He portrayed the conflicted Thane with subtle nuance and scored high in believability. His hallucinatory aria when he sees the dagger was masterful.

As he triumphed over his remorse and shame, Lady Macbeth, originally psychopathic in her lack of guilt, took on the mantle of remorse. Soprano Alaysha Fox sang the role well and was convincing both in her seductiveness in Act I and her aria in Act III ("Out out damned spot").

As King Duncan, tenor Elliott Paige (well remembered from his starring role in Orlando Paladino last year) was as effective in a serious role as he was in a comedic one.  We loved the way his character's benevolence and goodwill were reflected in the orchestral accompaniment.  Sadly, he got killed off in Act I!

As his son Malcolm, the fine tenor Carlton Moe was crowned at the end with great rejoicing from the excellent chorus.  Kudos to Miriam Charney Chorus Master!

Macduff, leader of the opposition, was sung by the excellent baritone Xiaomeng Zhang who lived up to the promise made by his earlier appearances.  As his poor wife, soprano Alexis Aimé made a fine appearance with mezzo Kendra Broom convincing as her cocky son.  It was heartrending to witness their senseless murder.

All other roles were well sung, including James Ludlam as Banquo, Xiaoming Tian as a herald, and Joshua Arky as an old man.  Most of the singers were graduate level students working on their Masters of Music but Mr. Mellon is a graduate and now a guest artist.

It is no small feat to get everything working together and last night was a perfect example of musicianship and stagecraft joining forces to produce a work that kept us riveted for a few hours.  If the Metropolitan Opera could put together a production like this in which the intentions of the composer and librettist were so honored, we might still be a subscriber.

There is a matinee performance on Sunday.  A word to the wise....

© meche kroop

Friday, December 12, 2014

LIEDERABEND CLXX

Amanda Lynn Bottoms, Aaron Mor, and Kelsey Lauritano

Three singers from the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts coached by Cameron Stowe showed their stuff yesterday and what fine stuff it was!  These lieder recitals at Juilliard offer an incredible opportunity to hear the stars of tomorrow.  The liederabend gives them the chance to try out material in front of an audience and to work with students from the Collaborative Piano Division.

Tenor Aaron Mor exhibited an interesting darkish colored tenor as he performed a trio of songs by Franz Schubert, a composer whose songwriting gifts have never been equalled.  The three he selected are not as well known as the more famous ones but they were no less lovely.  Collaborative pianist Kristen Doering opened the set with "Die Sterne" in which she successfully emphasized the pattern in the piano which rises through several successive keys.

The song is filled with beautiful imagery of the night sky and we enjoyed Mr. Mor's lovely phrasing. "Vor meiner Wiege" is a more disturbing song with text by the same poet (Karl Gottfried von Leitner) drawing an analogy between the cradle and the coffin.  Mr. Mor successfully captured the nuances.  But it was the poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which inspired Schubert to write such gorgeous music for "Auf dem See".

There were two excellent mezzo-sopranos on the program and we were so pleased to note that they sounded very different from one another.  We confess we get bored with voices that sound generic.

Amanda Lynn Bottoms, accompanied by Joel Harder's sensitive playing, commanded the stage with the captivating texture of her dusky instrument.  The vibrato struck us as just right and she used gesture successfully to illuminate Arnold Schoenberg's difficult songs, particularly the mysterious "Erwartung" with text by Richard Dehmel, who also contributed the poetry for the equally elusive "Jesus Bettelt" and "Erhebung".

Somewhat more accessible were the songs of Hugo Wolf from his Spanisches Liederbuch sung by the expressive Kelsey Lauritano, accompanied by the similarly expressive Edward Kim.  In "Klinge, klinge, mein Pandero" his fingers literally flew over the keys.

Ms. Lauritano connected well with the material and we particularly enjoyed "Sie blasen zum Abmarsch" in which a woman despairs over her lover's departure for battle.  "Dereinst, dereinst, Gedanke mein" and "Bedeckt mich mit Blumen" are sad songs about death so we were glad the program ended with the charming "Wer tat deinem Füsslein weh?".

Notable in Ms. Lauritano's performance was her superb German diction.  It is nearly universal among young singers to be afraid of the final "ch"; Ms. Lauritano's pronunciation was absolutely perfect.

All told, it was a fine recital.  If you have not yet experienced one of these monthly events, we urge you to attend.  Tickets are free and available online.

© meche kroop

Thursday, December 11, 2014

GERMAN FORUM

Babette Hierholzer, Elizabeth Wimmer and Nils Neubert

Kim Smith

Two major musical events on one snowy Wednesday night!  Only in New York.  Finding out that the two very different events were related tickled us no end.

We began the evening with a recital presented by the German Forum, a worthy foundation which had strangely escaped our attention.  Their goals are consonant with ours and we were delighted to have "discovered" them.  Their mission is to introduce emerging European artists--both vocal and instrumental--to the New York audience.  What is unique about the German Forum is that vocal and instrumental repertoire are presented on the same program and also that expert speakers are chosen to introduce the programs and to provide interesting insights into the compositions.

Among this group of speakers we recognized several of our favorite people:  Ira Siff, Margaret Juntwait, Ken Benson and August Ventura.  Among the artists presented over the last ten years were Nathalie Mittelbach, Michael Kelly, and (drum roll please) cabaret artist Kim Smith whom we had scheduled to review later that evening!  Only in New York!!!!

The German Forum recital, a musical tribute to Alma Mahler's famous composer friends, was introduced by Donna Drewes, Associate Professor of the Humanities at New York University.  She is an excellent speaker and spoke of Alma Mahler's role as muse.  Her life touched the lives of many composers of the early 20th c. and she herself, taught by Alexander von Zemlinsky, composed a wealth of lieder until husband number one, Gustav Mahler, insisted she stop.  Many fascinating details of her rather racy life were touched upon before the music began.

Songs by conductor Bruno Walter (who knew!), Alban Berg, Gustav Mahler, Joseph Marx, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Leonard Bernstein, and Alma Mahler herself were sung by soprano Elizabeth Wimmer, whom we were delighted to hear for the first time, and tenor Nils Neubert whom we have reviewed at least thrice in the past two years. Hearing lieder sung by native German speakers was a special treat.

Ms. Wimmer has a lovely bright soprano with some beautifully floated top notes and a lot of skill as a storyteller. She can decrescendo to a delicate pianissimo and effectively handled the high tessitura in the Korngold.  But what we enjoyed the most was her storytelling in Gustav Mahler's songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. We are very fond of melody and have been humming the charming "Rheinlegendchen" all night.

Mr. Neubert has not lost the sweet freshness of his voice that we previously so admired.  His performance of Mahler's "Ich atmet einen Linden Duft" touched us deeply, especially when he floated the high note.  His voice has an expressive tenderness with which he conveys subtle nuances.  We loved the repetitive phrase "Irmelin Rose" in the Zemlinsky lied of the same name.

The collaborative pianist was Artistic Director of the German Forum Babette Hierholzer. We always appreciate a pianist who supports the singers without overwhelming them. The piano parts in the Post-Romantic period are quite different from those of the 19th c. and are often compelling in their own right.  We have remarked on this recently on the occasion of hearing lieder by Joseph Marx and noticed the same effect on all of the composers heard last night.

We would like to mention the fine work of the Lysander Piano Trio comprising Itamar Zorman violinist, Michael Katz cellist, and Liza Stepanova pianist.  We heard them in various combinations, as well as violist Edward Klorman who was so expressive in Marx's "Durch Einsamkeiten" along with Mr. Neubert.

Mr. Katz was eloquent in Zemlinsky's "Lied" and rhythmically on point in the rowdy "Tarantell".  Mr. Zorman impressed with his performance of Fritz Kreisler's "Liebesleid" accompanied by Ms. Stepanova; the waltz was performed with delicious rubato.  Ms. Hierholzer and Ms. Stepanova performed a few pieces from Arnold Schoenberg's youth--Six Pieces for piano 4 hand, of which our favorite was the third--quite melodic with an interesting texture.  Hearing it made us regret his so-called "advance" into atonality.

The Scherzo from Strauss' Piano Quartet in C minor op. 13 was given a spirited performance; the short motivic phrases bookended a lovely lyrical central section. Ms. Wimmer and Mr. Neubert closed the program with a duet from Bernstein's West Side Story.  Mr. Neubert bears no trace of accent in English but Ms. Wimmer sang with a very slight and very charming accent that served to affirm that Maria and Tony came from two different cultures.

As yet unaware that our favorite cabaret artist Kim Smith was one of the artists presented in the past by the German Forum, we hustled down to the far western reaches of Manhattan to the McKittrick Hotel for a late night set.  As an opera lover, we most enjoyed his very personal delivery of Kurt Weill's "Pirate Jenny" from the Three Penny Opera.  Marc Blitzstein penned the English lyrics.  Gershwin's "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess was given a unique performance as only Mr. Smith could devise.  He is always compelling to see and to hear.  We have enjoyed him more in a theatrical environment without all the rowdy drinkers one gets in a bar. He is an artist who deserves one's full attention.

(c) meche kroop



Monday, December 8, 2014

YALE IN NEW YORK

Yevgeny Yontov, Miki Sawada, Evanna Chiew, Nicole Percifield, and Brian Vu

It is always an occasion when artists from the Yale School of Music visit New York City; last night at Weill Recital Hall songs from the collection of Frederick R. Koch were presented by three experienced graduate level singers and two collaborative pianists.

We were delighted to have the opportunity to hear more of expressive baritone Brian Vu whom we have previously heard only briefly and reviewed at various competition award recitals.  His first set comprised songs by Henri Duparc in which he got to show off his impeccable French diction and succeeded in involving us emotionally.  After a somewhat boring set of songs which preceded we were roused by the emotionalism of one of our favorite French songs, the mysterious "Le Manoir de Rosemonde".  The nightmare desperation of "La vague et la cloche" was equally compelling.  Miki Sawada's piano successfully evoked the raging ocean and the dreamer's desperation.

In another set he performed Robert Schumann's "Herbstlied, Op. 89, No. 3" and two songs by Hugo Wolf in perfect German.  As pointed out previously, if you want to write a good song you need good poetry and Heine's "Wie des Mondes Abbild Zittert" and Goethe's "Beherzigung" fall into that category.  Mr. Vu's mellow baritone and emotional involvement served him well and brought the songs to vivid life.  We are of the opinion that a lieder singer must be first and foremost a good storyteller. Mr. Vu definitely measures up to that criterion.  Our only criticism is that Mr. Yontov's piano, so evocative in the quiet passages, became rather heavy handed in the more passionate passages.

New to us was mezzo-soprano Evanna Chiew who performed three songs by Jean Sibelius with plenty of poise and stage presence.  Her very pleasing mezzo has a fine soprano-y bloom on top while the lower register remains firm and nicely textured. We cannot evaluate her Swedish diction but it sounded quite lovely

In another set of songs by Mahler, we were most impressed by the settings of texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.  Given a fine performance, there aren't many songs that delight us as much and Ms. Chiew gave her all in her interpretation of "Ich ging mit Lust durch einen grünen Wald" and the humorous "Selbstgefühl". Her German diction was excellent.  We would welcome the opportunity to hear more of her.

We were somewhat less impressed by soprano Nicole Percifield who sang Debussy's Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire.  A couple nights earlier we heard these same songs performed at Juilliard in an entire evening devoted to Baudelaire.  Consequently we had a pretty good idea of how intensely moving these songs can be when sung with total involvement.  But last night, unfortunately, they all sounded exactly the same and the blandness failed to engage us.

Ms. Percifield has a bright soprano with perhaps a shade too much vibrato but the fault lay more in a lack of involvement, a lack of gesture and a lack of involvement. Her French diction was excellent and she made use of dynamic variety but there was definitely something missing.  We had hoped to hear more of her later in the program to learn if perhaps that was just the wrong material for her but those five songs were all we got.  Perhaps we will have another opportunity in the future.

© meche kroop