An aria-laden recital
Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur: "Io son l'umile ancella"
Reynaldo Hahn: A Chloris – Le Rossignol dans les lilas – Si mes vers avaient des ailes – Le Printemps
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492: "E Susanna non vien...Dove sono"
Manuel de Falla: Siete Canciones populares Espanolas
Giuseppe Verdi: La traviata: "E strano...Ah fors' e lui...Sempre libera"
Fernando J. Obradors: La mi sola, Laureola – Al Amor – Con amores, la mi madre – ¿Corazón, porque pasáis? – Del cabello más sutil – El molondron
Jules Massenet: Manon: "Je marche sur tous les chemins...Obéissons quand leur voix appelle"
Ailyn Pérez (soprano), Ken Noda (piano)
K. Noda & A. Pérez(© Pete Checchia)
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presented soprano Ailyn Pérez in her US recital debut this month in the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center. Pérez has been performing internationally since her training in Philly and this was a homecoming of sorts with former colleagues from Curtis Institute and Academy of Vocal Arts, along with many local fans, filling the house.
Last minute changes in the program resulted in her opening with the demanding “Io son l’umile ancella”. Devising the best order for a program is an art in itself; this aria probably would have had greater impact if placed later.
Ms Pérez then sang the four songs by Reynaldo Hahn, followed by the scene from Le nozze di Figaro. The technical requirements for both is at a high level in different ways, and this may have led to erratic quality in the Hahn selections, but perhaps allowed for pitch adjustments and diva warm-up.
A quick exit after the Hahn songs and Pérez was back full-force singing Mozart’s "Dove sono” as Countess Almaviva mourning the pain she is suffering over her husband’s infidelity. Pérez was vocally luminous in this first of three full operatic scenes, all of which make you want to see her whole performances in these roles. In every example she performed with range, interpretive skill and theatrical presence.
Vocally, Pérez kept upping the ante. Next, her song cycle by Manuel De Falla, Siete Canciones populares Espanolas, which Pérez introduces as visually evocative of rural Spain; in her renditions, they are indeed, transporting. The flamenco pulse of the song “Jota” underscored her vibrant dynamic with brilliant pianist Ken Noda.
Ailyn Pérez’s husband, the tenor Stephen Costello, was scheduled to appear with her for this concert, but took advantage of an offer from the Bavarian State Opera. He would have accompanied her in the scene from Verdi’s La traviata. His able replacement was tenor William Davenport (winner of the AVA’s Giargiari Bel Canto Competition in 2011). Again, Pérez ably floated a full performance of Violetta’s “E strano...Ah fors’ e lui...Sempre libera.” In this scene not only the sonic golden center of Pérez voice is heard, but also her impeccably subtle phrasing. The audience was on its feet.
Six songs of folkloric bent from Fernando J. Obradors followed, in which she popped in and out of song characters; the musical journey then led to a subtle and stratospheric performance of numbers from Massenet’s Manon.
Two encores, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Over the Rainbow” (maybe Pérez is a Garland fan) seemed very emotional for the singer, as did her rendition of “Danny Boy” with trumpet accompaniment by jazz virtuoso Matt Cappy, dedicated to the Costello family who were out in force to support the singer in her husband’s absence. Costello and Pérez were last together in Philadelphia onstage as Romeo and Juliet for Opera Philadelphia (set in warring fashion houses) and speaking of opera couture, Pérez’s recital couture was diva fab.