I would like to first apologize for those of you who have been waiting for a new post only to be disappointed continually until this point- I certainly have reasons why I've not contributed to this blog in a while, but none of them are worth explaining here. What's most important is to get you all up to speed with what has been happening lately.
I recorded a Demo CD of four songs on October 3rd, and I am quite pleased with how it turned out--which for me is a surprise, and you fellow musicians can empathize, because I usually never get the recording as close to the real thing as I want it- but this particular session went extremely smoothly. I'm convinced that it's because I collaborated with such wonderful people that is what made it all a piece of cake! I recorded the following pieces: "Sul fil d'un soffio etesio", "Durch Zaertlichkeit und Schmeicheln" , "Les oiseaux dans la charmille", and "Be Kind and Courteous". We did the recording at Shetler Studios in New York City here. Naoko Aita was my accompanist and Thomas Deneuville, a Composer friend of mine, was the recording engineer.
Not only did I audio record these pieces, but I also videotaped them, so for those of you who'd like to see me singing something recent, I'll try to get those up on the website as soon as possible.
In other news, I am working on learning the complete roles of Olympia from Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, Papagena from Mozart's Die Zauberfloete (The Magic Flute), Tytania from Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Oscar from Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. Thus far I've tackled Papagena and Olympia, but I've only made a dent in those other roles, however, I will be devoting the next few weeks to auditions for Young Artist Programs, so I hope to come back to learning these roles in the middle of December.
In terms of the CD review that I promised I'd try to post each month on here, I have several things on the "back burner", and no, I don't mean CD Burner (har har), but I haven't gotten to actually listen to them yet. I did, however, get to attend a recital on Sunday afternoon of this past weekend, and I certainly would love to share my experiences there with you.
The performance was part of the 'On Wings of Song' recital series that is sponsored here in NYC by the Marilyn Horne Foundation, and it showcased the talents of Stephen Blier at the piano, and Paul Appleby, a tenor who is finishing up his second year of the Juilliard Opera Center and his first year of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artists Development Program. He presented a very interested choice of repertoire- he began with Grieg's Six Songs, Op. 48, which are texts in German and set to very haunting melodies. What impressed me about these to open a recital, was that they are so introspective, I wasn't really sure if Appleby was able to be open with the audience immediately in that way, but sure enough, he surprised me quite a bit. His diction was clear, his delivery of the songs themselves was superb, and the most stunning facet was his connection to the poem's meanings which was evidenced by his seemingly effortless transition between each song's mood. His second set of the program was a group of songs by Albert Roussel, a composer very much influenced by Debussy and Ravel. The poetry of these was much more evocative of imagery than the more storytelling poems of the Grieg set, nevertheless Appleby was able to really indulge in the hazy colors of the music in order to bring the words more immediacy to the audience. His third set was really a wonderful surprise. He sang four songs by the Argentian composer Carlos Lopez Buchardo, and they were just gorgeously performed in every aspect. It is funny, he sang the spanish words so clearly and with such warmth, that the declamatory aspect of the songs' structure really shone, and helped to draw the listener in without his/her even noticing. I almost checked his biography to see if he had Spanish heritage- it definitely seemed to me like these songs resonated with him in some very meaningful way. Then the second half of the concert consisted of pieces in English- a set of Britten songs, and two Traditional Irish ballads. The Britten were good, but mainly stood out because the songs were those which you haven't heard often sung (the titles escape my mind now, but I will post them this evening). They were very simple harmonically and compositionally, and his clear tone color was able to really bring the words to the forefront. I didn't have to strain my ears once to understood a word he sang. Of course, you could tell that the Traditional Irish songs were close to his heart- he sang them with an authentic Irish brogue, and they were both quite entertaining. I could literally feel the people on either side of me relaxing during these lively tunes. As an encore he performed the aria, "City Lights" from William Bolcom's American opera A View from the Bridge, and then as a surprise treat he performed a Bruce Springsteen song, "Fire" which was actually a Pointer Sisters' song originally. All I can say to Mr. Appleby is ."What a entirely lovely recital! I enjoyed every minute!"
But truly everyone, he is a great performer because not only does he have a beautiful voice but equally important is that he has the ability to capture the audience and make the music mean something to you. It was definitely worth going- if he's in your area, make sure not to miss out!
Now meanwhile, based on what I liked about Mr. Appleby's performance last Saturday, I'm going to go practice! So, until next posting, and, as always, thanks for reading!