Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The stars align at The Metropolitan Opera...and Spivey Hall

We had an excellent recital two Saturdays ago from Simon Keenlyside and Pedja Muzijevic (see review ("British baritone Simon Keenlyside thrills audience at Spivey Hall").  Mr. Keenlyside was able to break away from his intensive preparations for Robert LePage's production of Thomas Ades's The Tempest at the Metropolitan Opera in New York to give us a sterling performance, his only song recital in the U.S. this season.  

Today The New York Times reviewed the Met's premiere of The Tempest, praising its "superb cast, headed by the charismatic baritone Simon Keenlyside," plus two other Spivey Hall vocalists of note, "the lovely, vocally warm and sympathetic mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard" (who returns to Spivey Hall for her second song recital on March 24, 2013) and " the appealing, sweet-voiced tenor Alek Shrader in his Met debut" -- though it should be noted that Mr. Shrader has sung on stage at the Met as a winner of the Met's National Council Auditions, which led to his highly successful recital debut at Spivey Hall in November 2010.

So many other Met luminaries -- Susan Graham, David Daniels, Joyce DiDonato, Christine Brewer, Rolando Villazon, Christine Schaefer, Magdalena Kozena, Gerald Finley, Lawrence Brownlee, Mariusz Kweicien, Angelika Kirchschlager, Nicole Cabell, Kate Royal, Matthias Goerne, Charles Castronovo, and the late Salvatore Licitra (such a sad loss), as well as (before my time here) Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel, Deborah Voigt, Ben Heppner, Karita Mattila, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Olga Borodina (a list that is by no means complete, and in no particular order, for which I offer my abject apologies for any unintended omissions (this is a blog post, not a comprehensive history of 22 seasons of concerts) ) -- have also given memorable recitals at Spivey Hall.  

In recital, these artists reveal different aspects of their artistry and personalities in the intimacy of our acoustically glorious space (beloved of so many musicians, and no less so by singers) than they typically would in staged opera. This only magnifies and deepens our admiration for their gifts and achievements.  

The essential and unchanging similarity in either context is their musical excellence.  Many of these superb singers made their U.S., Southeast, or Atlanta debut at Spivey Hall.  Other outstanding singers not as closely associated with opera in the U.S. who are nonetheless compelling recitalists -- Christian Gerhaher, Christanne Stotijn, and Florian Boesch immediately spring to mind -- have graced the stage of Spivey Hall.

We are both proud of and honored by the artistic distinction they confer on us, and grateful for the pleasures they give our appreciative and attentive audiences. The main point (as always) is that they are extraordinarily accomplished and gratifying musicians. Great music-making is what it's all about.

We look forward to welcoming another Met Opera star, the acclaimed German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, for his Spivey Hall recital debut on December 2.   I've recently received his new Decca recital CD with pianist Tamar Halperin, Wanderer, which hasn't been released in the US yet (I imported it from Germany); it offers a tantalizing preview of what we will hear in just a few weeks.  Fans of great singing: this is not to be missed!  More on Scholl and Wanderer soon.


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