Metropolitan Opera Diva performs recital in Dayton
Yesterday, I was allowed to be a fly on the wall for the dress rehearsal of soprano Angela Brown, who performs tonight and Sunday afternoon at the Schuster Center for Dayton Opera's annual opera star gala. Part of the performance will be in collaboration with The Wilberforce University Choir.
This is one recital you don't want to miss. Brown's program is a winning combination of Verdi and Puccini opera arias, as well as numbers from "Margaret Garner" by Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison, for which she created the role of Cilla, and spirituals.
I was particularly taken with a cantata by John Carter based on a collection of spirituals -- "Peter go ring dem bells," "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" --wonderfully arranged for voice and piano. Brown's voice, vivid, focused and shimmering, filled every corner of the Schuster. She has a knack for communicating each word, so that the listener is instantly swept up in the power and emotion of these texts.
William Grant Still's "From the Hearts of Women" is a little-known cycle of four charming songs that should be heard more often. I loved what the soprano did with "Little Mother," a lullaby that soon becomes an anguished picture of pain -- revealing a subtext between the lines that Brown hints at magnificently.
But she is also an irresistible musician, who doesn't take herself so seriously she can't have fun. Pianist David Michael Wolff is excellent.
She's also performing "Ritorna vincitor" from Aida, her "signature" role, "Vissi d'arte" from "Tosca" and "Pace, pace mio dio" from "La Forza del Destino." She will make her role debut in "La Forza" to open the Cincinnati May Festival on May 16.
Dayton Opera presents its annual Star Gala featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Angela Brown today (May 2) at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 4 at 3:00 p.m. Click here for more info and tickets.