Seeing a recital by mezzo Magdalena Kozena
tomorrow at Tully reminded me that I totally forgot to review the wonderful Normas we
did with New York Opera forum a couple of weeks ago.(Well,how can i keep
track of all the stuff I post??). Since the mezzo voice is my favorite of all
voice types, I am constantly thrilled at the various totally unique qualities of
every single mezzo/contralto I hear, and this Norma was no exception.
Three mezzos shared our Adalgisa,and I want to mention
them as three of our finest artists, each with their own special qualities.
Coincidentally, during the run of the Normas, I looked at Classical Singer
magazine, and there was Leslie Middlebrook,featured as one of our finest upcoming
artists.As Adalgisa (in the original keys), her luscious lyric mezzo voice
poured out so beautifully in the difficult music, and she has the proper style for
the Bellini music. She never pushes the lows, but they are naturally rich and
warm, and this allows the entire voice to remain totally even, with no hint of
the register breaks often found in this type of voice.
I have sung for many yers with Marilyn Spesak, who
has a more dramatic tone, but nevertheless, she was totally at home in Bellini,
as she is in Strauss (a marvelous Klytaemnestra),Verdi,etc. Like
Ms.Middlebrook, she has no difficulty with the wide range of the role, and I have always
said that she deserves to be up there on important stages;she has also grown
tremendously over the years, and I hope she goes far in the near future.
I first heard Ainsley Ryan when she did one of
our Bolena Jayne Seymours, but the greatest thrill I got was when she performed
the Composer in our Ariadne;I asked her about Octavian, and happily she will
be doing it soon with our same New York Opera Forum. Her approach to the
Composer was more "Susan Graham-like" and the voice is so lovely and lush in tone.
On does not have to push the hell out of the chest voice to make a great
impression in the lower register.(Not that I do not appreciate the "Barbieri-Elmo
I hope these three ladies will continue to sing so
beautifully and successfully,, and I hope more of you out there get to know
them as fine young artists. I am always mentioning in my articles that every
time i hear a new fine voice, the experience is totally unique, and if you heard
some of our Norma rehearsals and heard the three of them singing various parts
of the role, you could easily interchange them and never be disappointed.
One humorous note: my ma used to hear me on the
phone speaking of sopranos' "chest" and i needed to explain to her I was
speaking vocally, NOT anatomically!
As ever Charlie
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