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Subject: Michael Spyres and the WOW factor
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:12:08 -0400
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Autumn seems to be the time the "New Season" starts - the MET, Broadway,
TV, and the leaking of "Oscar Bait" movies.  New Recordings used to be more
a part of this mix, and they continue to cling to the fringe.   My "Maria
Callas Live" set is on its way and I'm optimistic about the new Florez /
Mozart disc pre ordered on Amazon.  In the meantime I took a chance on
Michael Spyres Opera Rara recital disc "Espoir" primarily because of the
unusual repertory. - Halevy, Auber, Otello's (Rossini) entrance aria in
French.  I've seen Mr. Spyres live once - in Pesaro's "Aureliano in
Palmira."  and despite the lack of an "announcement" I think he must have
been having an off night.  The voice seemed small - in the small Teatro
Rossini - and his admittedly stratospheric high notes appeared to be taken
in a detached, enervated falsetto.  Based on reports I entered the theatre
expecting to be impressed and left disappointed.  The Zenobia, Jessica
Pratt, was the undisputed star of the show.

This disc, "Espoir" proves that I missed an opportunity to hear a dazzling,
young (36), quite unique voice at its considerable best.   His range is
formidable, virtuosic highs to rich, almost basso like lows (the Rossini
Otello exhibits all of this).  Outside of Leon Escalais,  Hermann
Jadlowker, and Richard Tucker where do you hear a tenor - let alone a
baritenor (which I think is his natural territory) ornament with such a
fully executed trill.  Even Florez with all his skill and panache can't
deliver one.  Yet Ozark born Mr. Spyres does just that in the excerpt from
Halevy's "Guido and Ginevra."  A feel for legato seems to be his by nature
and the ease with which he navigates the extremes of his registers is
almost seamless.

His Enrico II from Donizetti's "Rosamunda d' Inghilterra" shows him capable
of going from the limpid lover to the clanging heroics of the cabaletta.
Too bad they didn't allow him a da capo to ornament - he could have done it
to a turn.

The second excerpt from "Guido and Ginevra" has the dulcet toned Spyres
pared with the "etched in acid" voice of Joyce El Khoury.  Given agility
and timbre, I think I would rather hear him in the Mad Scene from Lucia as
opposed to her.

Based on my unsatisfying, one off experience in Pesaro is Spyres a trick of
the microphone?  I don't think so...he's been singing Big roles like Arnold
in "Tell," the Rossini "Otello" (an impressive recording on Naxos), and
most recently Enee in "Les Troyens" (soon to be released with Joyce di
Donato as Didon...)

Surprise yourself - try "Espoir" - and ride a time machine back to a time
when a singer could trill through Rossini and march with aplomb through the
heroics of Verdi and Berlioz....

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