Eglise Gutierrez in recital at Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center, NYC.
Ms Eglise Gutierrez gave a most impressive recital at this relatively small venue mid-week to an enthusiastic audience. She is a Cuban American soprano who is performing all the famous bel canto roles in the middle sized opera houses at the moment. She has sung several major roles for the Opera Orchestra of New York, a company which seems to have disappeared from its usual prominence during the recent world financial crisis. Ms Gutierrez’s choice of repertoire was pretty wide ranging and she did not disappoint. In fact, her arias and Spanish songs were little short of amazing.
The very first piece most sopranos would not even dare consider singing, let alone its full extent. The almost impossible and hauntingly beautiful Russian Nightingale song was followed by a Spanish one La maja y el ruiseñor by Granados.
She had E-flats, E naturals and a couple of spare F’s I do declare. She was dressed in all black for the first half, looking every bit the diva. Her canary yellow spiral lace layer dress in the second half was one of the most extraordinary I have ever seen on a woman (thus I exclude Mardi Gras, of course).
After ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento’, our soprano was joined by a fine flautist for the Proch theme and variations, degree of difficulty: unmeasurable.
For the opening of the second half, Ms Guttierez had begged the audience’s indulgence to hear the first encore at the start of the second part – which seemed rather odd … yet it was the entire final scene from La Sonnambula, Oh se una volta sola … Ah no credea mirati … Ah non giunge. It was a phenomenon and the small private audience (with piano and flute) went wild with applause at all the pieces. Her FINAL encore (but one) was Ah forse lui … Sempre libera from Traviata act I. Amazingly (and “only in New York”), a man who appeared to be the video operator suddenly became the tenor, Alfredo, who sings a couple of lines at the end of the Traviata excerpt. This was delightfully bizarre the erstwhile cameraman broke into fabulous song with a strong and accurate youthful tenor voice (off stage as required by the original!).
We were sitting near Eve Queller the Carnegie Hall conductor whose company (OONY) has gone broke, sad to say, with the economic downturn. There was a flurry in the second half as the star realised that in the front row on the right side of the theater was Licia Albanese, a star of yester-year, and always a supporter of young artists. Remarkably, she is nearly 100 years old, and made some of the most enduring early micro-groove opera recordings! Only in New York!
Comments by Andrew Byrne ..
YouTube exerpt 'Ah non giunge' - link on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUZYh4e6qwU&feature=related
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