The aria finals

And so the final act.  First on stage was Emily D’Angelo; the only lady left in the competition.  It was an accomplished and varied set.  She started with a characterful and technically proficient Una voce poco fa followed by an appropriately lyrical Must the winter come so soon?  Coeur sans amour from the Massenet Cendrillon showed off excellent French before a suitably dramatic rendering of the Komponist’s aria from Ariadne.  Pretty much all the mezzo bases covered there and covered very well.

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Belated art song final post

That which had to be done is done.  What follows is a write up from my notes of Sunday’s art song final.  Please bear in mind that I was less than fully emotionally engaged and you may well prefer Gianmarco Segato’s thoughtful review.

Julien van Mellaerts sang first.  He started off in conventional territory with Strauss, Schumann and Wolf; showing good command of the Lieder style, expressiveness and a willingness to vary dynamics.  A pleasing version of Adams’ For You There is No Song was followed by the weird and somewhat chilling Genius Child by Owens; a neat contrast.  The set concluded with Debussy’s Trois ballades de François Villon.  There was some lovely, delicate singing here with some ravishing floating notes.  Overall, as in the previous rounds, very good stuff without, perhaps, having the X factor.

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Art song semis – part 2

So, the evening session in Bourgie Hall.  Gemma Summerfield sang first, kicking off with two Mendelssohn songs.  Die Liebende schreibt showed off proper Lieder singing.  It was restrained and pure with every word distinct.  Hexenlied was appropriately more dramatic but still quite correct with a good sense of story telling.  A very good start.  Ravel’s Cinq mélodies, which followed displayed excellent French in varied moods and some lovely piano playing from Sebastian Wybrew.  There was more of the same from both of them with a lovely version of Korngold’s Drei Lieder before things wrapped up with stylish and entirely idiomatic versions of Bridge’s Go Not Happy Day and Love went a Riding.  The latter was an object lesson in how to tell a story without going over the top.  This was a very, very fine set and jumped Summerfield to the top of my provisional “leader board”.

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The conclusion of the aria prelims

Last night the final eight aria contestants performed.  Canadian mezzo Marie-Andrée Mathieu was up first.  Meyerbeer’s Nobles seigneurs, salut! showed genuine mezzo colours, good control and some dramatic flair.  Parto! Parto! was pleasant but not as dramatic as one might expect.  Certainly the range of emotion on display was markedly less than Emily D’Angelo the day before.  Amour, viens rendre mon âme from Gluck’s Orphée showed she could handle long runs.  So it was a solid performance but maybe not at the level needed against this field.

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Not a Gretchen in sight

So back to the Salle Bourgie for the second and final batch of art song contestants.  First up was mezzo Hagar Sharvit.  I liked her.  It’s a genuine mezzo voice and if her Fauré and Schubert offerings were a bit “flow of beautiful tone” they displayed plenty of power and a nice ability to spin a line.  Her version of Britten’s O Waly, Waly was rather good ; more dramatic and with perfect diction.  A strong start.

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Opera pub night

I’ve seen opera in a lot of venues in Toronto, including several pubs, but last night was my first time at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club; the occasion being the first pub night hosted by Against the Grain Theatre.  There was a pretty decent crowd and, somewhat to my surprise, a couple of decent beers on tap.  There was also singing with Topher Mokrzewski at the keyboard of a piano almost as grotty as the one he made his AtG debut on.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the line up was pretty impressive; Clarence Frazer, Stephanie Tritchew, Aaron Durand, Cait Wood and John Brancy plus a bonus drop in by no less than Krisztina Szabó.  Rossini, Puccini, Donizetti, Bernstein and others all got a look in.  It was loud, it was fun and the audience, not all of whom I suspect knew what they were in for, stayed.  Further sessions are planned for the first Thursdays in November and December at the same venue.

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