Saturday night was yet another duo recital in the VOCAL ARTS SOCIETY series
at the Kennedy Center, this time rather than new-found artists, we had two
proven recitalists and singers renowned throughout the opera world:
mezzo-soprano FREDERICA vonSTADE(FvS) and baritone, RICHARD STILWELL(RS) in a varied and
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) RS
La mer est infinie
Je me suis embarqué
Vaisseaux, nous vous aurons aimés
Pauline Viardot (1821-1910) FvS
Bonjour, mon cœur
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Old American Songs, selected
At the River RS
Little Horses FvS
Zion's Walls RS
Simple Gifts FvS
I bought me a cat! FvS & RS
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) FvS & RS
Final Duet from Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Four selected songs:
Liebst du um Schönheit FvS
Der Tambourg'sell RS
Lob des hohen Verstandes FvS & RS
Charles Ives (1874-1954) RS
The Greatest Man
Vivian LeWine (1963-) FvS
Charles Ives RS
Lee Hoiby (1926-) FvS
Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986)
Ah, yes, I remember it well from Gigi
Irving Berlin (1889-1989)
Anything you can do, I can do better from Annie Get your Gun
Primary Colors from the Letters of Sister Helen Prejean Jake Heggie
Duet: "La ci darem la mano" from DON GIOVANNI
It was an evening full of memories for many of the old timers in the
audience who have been enjoying the two artists for over thirty years! Indeed, they
mentioned this was the 35th year since they first collaborated together.
Neither singer would want to fill a concert hall these days, but the audience in
the intimate Terrace Theater with an oversold house of about 500 (there was a
waiting list for tickets!!) truly appreciated the fine artistry offered.
Mr. Stilwell sounded a bit blustery and sometimes frail in his first set. I
would have chosed something different than Faure with it's quiet subtleties,
but the essence of the voice still pervades and offers up something special
for most of us who knew it back when...
Ms. vonStade looking splendid in a flowing black taffeta bottom with a
blouse and magnificent colorful jacket never failed to impress. I loved the
selection of Viardot songs with the beautiful slow adoration of the stars in Die
Sterne and every word in every piece she sang being imbued with meaning, not to
mention clarity, excellent diction and understanding.
It was the Copland songs that mad everyone leave in bliss at intermission.
"The Little Horses" was sung as the end all of lullabies, the traditional songs
to Mr. Stilwell were stalwart, and "Simple Gifts" the most sublime of all.
Our 2-1/2 year old Samuel would have easily recognized the final duet "I
Bought Me A Cat" which was funny, tender and truly a treat.
After intermission I realized again that some Monteverdi can be so much
recitative. That said, the Mahler was so impressive, especially Mr. Stilwell's
morbid tale of mortality in Der Tambourg'sell, with its repetitive death knoll
in the piano. Indeed, I have completely failed to mention the excellent work
of LAURANA MITCHELMORE.
The next Rheinlegenchen reminded me of all those Cherubino's I heard Ms.
vonStade sing in years past. Ms. vonStade announced that "Lob des hohen
Verstands" was about a nightingale and cuckoo in a music contest judges by an ass,
saying, "We've all been in those situations."
The American set brought more musical genius, including an interesting piece
called "Zeal" composed by Ms. Mitchelmore's daughter, Vivian LeWine, who was
in the audience.
The final set was sheer comedy and fun, but it was the Jake Heggie encore
that truly brought out the essence of Ms. vonStade's vocal qualities. This
song, from letters written by Sister Helen Prejean while living on a Native
American reservation, was gorgeously accompanied by Julietta Curenton on the
flute with music that was so totally evocative of the setting, it was simply
amazing to be transported.
Not a soul present will forget last night, from those of us who have known
these voice for years, to the young singer who attended with his wife and left
their ten day old baby at home with the grandparents, simply because this
evening would never be repeated.
ALAN J. SAVADA, CTC
"Uns is gegeben, daß wir immer meinen, anderswo wäre das Glück, und so
beneiden wir alle, die anders sind."--Reisebuch aus den Österreichen Alpen by
It is our lot always to imagine that happiness lies elsewhere, and so we
envy all things that are different.
"The lure of travel set my heart afire"--Erich Korngold from DIE TOTE STADT
"If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you I came to
live out loud--Emile Zola
****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!