Off I went to the Four Seasons Centre to see Samuel Chan and Stéphane Mayer perform some Schubert. Sadly Sam was indisposed so what we got was a hastily, but very well, constructed program featuring some of the other singers in the Ensemble Studio.
Things kicked off with the increasingly impressive Anne-Sophie Neher in an accomplished rendering of Mozart’s “show off” piece Exsultate jubilate, in which she showed very decent control in the rather fiendish runs. She was back later with “The Presentation of the Rose” from Der Rosenkavalier which sounded suitably Straussian and sufficiently girlish at the same time. Nicely done. She made a third appearance with one of Adèles’s arias from Le comte Ory. This didn’t quite do it for me but it was fun to hear Stéphane playing around with the very Rossiniesque accompaniment.
Joel Allison was up next with an accomplished version of “Come master” from The Rake’s Progress. I’ve never been convinced that this work breaks out well into concert arias but it was well sung. His next appearance was singing the fiendish “Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori” from Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Poliferno. This piece ranges from well down in the bass range to the top of the baritone range as well as having multiple absolutely ridiculous jumps of pitch. I didn’t know Joel had some of those notes but he does and he managed. the jumps with (apparent) ease while even managing to imbue the piece with some real emotion. It was very well done.
Simona Genge was up next with a more than serviceable “Che farò”. Not sure what else to say about it!
Simone McIntosh performed the Komponist’s aria from Ariadne auf Naxos. There was some real passion in this as well as considerable volume. Her voice has grown quite noticeably in her time in the Ensemble Studio. It’s a big sound for a not very big person! She was back later with a pleasant “Di tante sue procelle” from Il re pastore.
Lauren Margison gave an extremely heartfelt and rather beautiful account of “Tu che di gel sei cinta” from Turandot. I think it’s becoming clear in what direction her career is likely to go!
There were a couple of ensemble numbers too. Simone and Lauren sang a lovely, if slightly hammed up, “Ah guarda, sorella” and were joined by Joel for the final number “Soave sia il vento” which closed things out with a very nicely balanced blend of voices.
All in all, a very successful last minute “rescue”.
Photo credit: Ian McIntosh (aka Simone’s dad)