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Subject: Michelle DeYoung recital in Toronto
From: "Joseph K. So" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Joseph K. So
Date:Tue, 4 Mar 1997 04:05:46 -0400
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        Tonight I attended a recital by mezzo Michelle DeYoung at Roy Thomson
Hall in Toronto.  A replacement for Renee Fleming, who cancelled her
recital last Fall due to illness,  DeYoung is making her local debut.  I
was naturally disappointed when Fleming cancelled, but was willing to
keep an open mind regarding DeYoung.  Highly touted as an up-and-coming
mezzo, she is going to be Fricka, Siegrune and the Second Norn in the Met
Ring, plus various recital/orchestral concert dates in the U.S. and abroad.
        In the first half, she opened with Haydn's Arianna a Naxos,
followed by Chansons de Bilitis (Debussy) and four Richard Strauss songs.
The second half continued with Songs of a Wayfarer and ended with
Brettllieder by Schoenberg.  She sang a single, unidentifed encore.
        She has a winning stage personality, musical intelligence, and a
fine if not great voice.  She has among the best diction I've heard in any
singer.  Obviously well schooled and well prepared, she sang the songs
very well, particularly the Strauss (Befreit, Cacilie, Die Nacht, and
Zueignung).  Her singing was never less than heartfelt, though her
extroverted manner is slightly off-putting IMHO. The Debussy was less
successful as her style was a bit heavy for that music.  Perhaps the
worst singing came in the very first piece, Arianna a Naxos.  This 15
minute work is really a mini-opera that requires a vocal and dramatic
range that taxes the most seasoned performer.  At this very early stage
in her career,  Michelle DeYoung is simply not ready or able to sustain
it.  Her acting has a real self-conscious air about it, and her style is
less than classically Haydn. She was not helped by the slow tempo adopted
by her accompanist, Kevin Murphy, which forced her to 'act' during long,
long piano introductions and interludes.  Her Schoenberg was beautifully
sung, but is it necessay to camp it up so much?  Another thing that
struck me was how weak her middle and lower registers are for a mezzo. On
the other hand her top was strong and slightly metallic.  As the voice
warmed up, it went higher, and IMHO, she sounds more soprano than mezzo
to me!
        The audience was unsually quiet, and there was (thankfully) no
applause within a group.  The ovation at the end was very generous for a
debuting artist, but she only sang one encore, for reasons only known to
her. I feel that she has a great deal of potential, and despite the PR
hype of her management and the concert promoter, she is not a mature
artist at this point.  She is simply not ready for a debut at a 2500 seat
theatre in a major city.  Sure, she has sung at Carnegie, but it was at
the Weill recital Hall.  To sing lieder well requires more than just a
beautiful voice and extravagant stage manner.  I would like to hear her
in a few years, and hopefully she will be the complete artist that she
seems to be capable of.


Joseph So
<[log in to unmask]>

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