Chelsea Rus is a recent graduate of the Schulich Scool of Music at McGill University and winner of the Wirth Vocal prize. Today, along with pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone, she gave a recital in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. I like that it was all song bar the opening number; “Je veux vivre” from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Hearing young singers belt out the same few Mozart and bel canto standards gets a bit tedious. Anyway this was one of those recitals that started quite well and just got better as things progressed. Poulenc’s Fiançailles pour rire are, I suppose, a bit of fluff but they allowed Chelsea to show off a rather lovely middle voice and good French diction, though the registers are still not fully integrated. Even better was Liszt’s Oh! quand je dors. Here she showed just how expressive she can be.
Opening the second half was some rarely heard Britten with two pieces to texts by Auden. The singing was very good here but above all perhaps it was a display of just how good a collaborative pianist Ms. Scarfone is. Three Schubert songs produced excellent German and some lovely controlled singing before Chelsea climaxed on some Strauss. I might be biased but I think that a young singer who can impress in the Strauss songs has real chops and this was impressive. I have heard the notoriously tricky Zueignung sung in person and on record by some of the best. I haven’t often heard it sung with the combination of commitment and restraint shown by Ms. Rus. Clearly one to watch.
Photocredit: Lara Hintelmann. Dress credit: Rosemarie Umetsu