As was announced before the concert by Ruth Felt, the gracious president of San Francisco Performances, Magdalena Kožená had been battling a nasty cold for several days, but the mezzo-soprano had decided to go through with her Herbst Theatre recital nevertheless. Red flags went up in my mind. A singer singing with a cold can present a problem for a reviewer: How to evaluate what the ears pick up?
Being funny, it seems, is serious business. Many years ago, I prepared an audition piece for a critique by an acting coach. My tastes in selecting arias and songs ran to the lugubrious, and someone suggested Dinah’s aria from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. As I was singing it for my coach, I noticed she was laughing her head off.
The word “operetta” sounds like what it is: opera lite. The story may be tragic but the treatment will be light, if you can imagine that. You are not invited to dwell long in tragedy; neither are you permitted to escape from the sadness — not altogether.
Time and adversity have not been kind to Barbara Bonney, once the possessor of a silvery, clear soprano that responded to her every musical intention. After time off for personal reasons, she has been attempting to place her voice once again on its former secure plane. But the voice will not cooperate: It is unresponsive and unyielding. Gone is the pliability, the suavity, the subtlety — and with them, the artistry.
As if to mirror the state of bitterness attributed to some citizens of our country in these days, baritone Matthias Goerne and his excellent accompanist Alexander Schmalcz presented a vocal recital Saturday at Herbst Theatre that was a study in bitterness.
My Russian grandmother and the daughter she taught the songs she knew (my mother), both long since gone, would have been unable to keep from dancing in the aisles and cheering at Dmitri Hvorostovsky's Cal Performances concert at Zellerbach Hall Sunday afternoon.
Joined by the renowned Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of Choral Art Choir of Moscow, under the direction of the American conduc
Christopher Maltman is a spellbinder — a British baritone with a voice at times honeyed, assertive, suave, dramatic, ethereal, and gutsy. Along with pianist Julius Drake, an appealingly muscular presence with superb fingers and a musical imagination equal to that of the singer, Maltman charmed continually.