On Saturday, I was part of a small group of people privileged to hear a
superb benefit recital by ERIE MILLS in the auditorium of the music
department of San Jose State. If there is ever another, I will announce
it on the list. It would be, as this was, more than worth the trip to
San Jose to hear this voice, which has grown bigger, fuller, richer, yet
losing none of the agility, sparkle, and purity of tone on top. The
program was as follows:
Endless pleasure, endless love George Handel
O Sleep, why dost thou leave me?
Tornami a vaggheggiar
Ich wollt~Rein Sträusslein binden Richard Strauss
Säusle, liebe Myrthe
Quatre Chansons de jeunesse Claude Debussy
Claire de lune
An! non credea mirarti...Ah! non giunge Vencenzo Bellini
(from La Sonnambula)
The Doe Lee Hoiby
What if ...
She tells her Love
Always it~Rs Spring
Someone to Watch Over Me George Gershwin
Embraceable You (Arr. Brian Dykstra)
Somebody Loves Me
Love Walked In
They all Laughed
Erie Mills sang this program flawlessly, demonstrating her legendary
technique, an enviable command of languages, and a vocal instrument
that remains - for me - the coloratura without peer singing today.
Since she is known primarily for Subrette roles, it is easy to forget
that this is also a voice of great power and vocal color; this audience
was reminded that she is a master of interpretation and dramatic
expression. Her stage presence is relaxed but dynamic as she interprets
every nuance of the art songs. I was not familiar with most of the
first half of the program, but I particularly liked the Debussy
selections, which were early Debussy and new to me. The Clair de Lune,
for example, was not the later, more familiar one, but was even
lighter, more romantic, and exquisitely delicate.
The second half began with the familiar ~S Ah! non credea mirarti... Ah!
non giunge,~S from La Sonnambula, sung with astonishing ease, those
famous high note floating out over the audience like bells. The Hoiby
cycle was wonderful. (All of it is on Mills~Rs 1997 CD, ALWAYS IT~RS
SPRING, by the way, available on the Vai Audio label. ) The final
Gershwin set was an arrangement especially written for Mills. Arranged
for her particular tessitura, it was an interesting, fresh experience
of those famous Gershwin tunes.
I wish all of you could have been there. Again, if she ever does
another recital at San Jose State, I promise to write about it in
advance across the list, so those of you in the bay area have the
opportunity to hear this wonderful operatic artist in person, rather
than just hearing about it from me.
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