Soprano Barbara Bonney canceled her engagement Wednesday (March 11),
just one hour prior to her scheduled arrival in San Diego to prepare for
a Saturday evening (March 14) recital sponsored by the La Jolla Chamber
Concert officials told me Ms. Bonney is suffering from a possibly
cancerous throat condition. This is, of course, terrible news -- but I
also understand there is a 75-percent chance of a false alarm. I was
advised that she will very likely cancel her Lincoln Center concerts
with the New York Philharmonic in early April.. (I am, however,
crossing my fingers and holding on to my own tickets for her April 6
concert with Andre Previn at Avery Fisher Hall).
In the last-minute scramble for a replacement, LJCMS representatives
talked to Dawn Upshaw (currently in LA for a concert), and Frederica von
Stade (said to live "not far from here"). Upshaw did not want to sing
two concerts in such close succession. Von Stade was not available. So,
for a mere $27,000 ($2000 more than Bonney charges), officials engaged
Swedish baritone Hakan Hagegard for the sold-out Civic Theatre
"Celebrity Series" concert. So you see -- it was, in some ways, a
replacement of more than "equal stature."
Although Hagegard had picked up a touch of fuzz-in-the-throat from his
flight here, the voice sounded glorious most of the time. It was
managed, after all, by a superb musician and expert linguist in
possession of a radiant stage personality. His collaborator was pianist
Warren Jones, who, to my ear at least, sounded a bit reticent throughout
The program was an odd grab-bag, really: Selections from Schubert's
"Schwanengesang" before the intermission, and assorted songs and opera
arias later on. We, in this order, had the "Prologue" from "Pagliacci,"
"Don Quichotte a Dulcinee" (a cycle of three magnificent songs by
Ravel), "Hai gia vinta la causa" from Mozart's "Figaro," three songs by
Sibelius, and the inevitable "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's "Barber
of Seville". His only encore was a Hugo Wolf ditty condemning critics.
Hagegard's artistry offers much to admire. He commands an astonishing
variety of vocal shadings, and the natural timbre of the lower range is
meltingly lovely. He observes the most minute musical markings, he
takes optional high notes with powerful and full-throated ease, and he
floats a lovely pianissimo.
This concert was a lovely surprise, but I wish Ms. Bonney a swift
recovery and the best of health.
San Diego Magazine
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