At 4:15 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, a trio of Studio Artists from Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artist program will perform a set of songs about death in the season’s final Artsongs recital.
This afternoon’s art song recital marks the beginning of the last hoorah for Chautauqua Opera Company’s studio artists, starting a string of four performances in three days. The last installment in the “Artsongs in the Afternoon” series, bass-baritone Brad Walker, tenor Jesse Darden and mezzo-soprano Ellen PutneyMoore will perform at 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ.
Those singers have the unique position of having observed every other recital in this series, so they have the greatest opportunity to employ lessons learned from watching their colleagues.
As the fifth in a series of six, today’s “Artsongs in the Afternoon” recital presents three vocalists who have learned from watching their peers in the first four recitals.
“It’s amazing how much you can learn just by watching,” said baritone Justin Brown. “It’s inspirational. We’re all at different levels but present the recital as one. There are some people who have a knack to stand there and tell a story. Others can be much more animated. They’re all beautiful and wonderful in their own ways. As a performer, you get ideas from watching them and think, ‘Oh, where can I employ that?’ ”
Brown joins soprano Caitlyn Glennon and mezzo-soprano Beth Lytwynec at 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ to display the tricks they have learned, whether from their colleagues or experiences from years past. John Keene collaborates on piano.
Intuition may tell you that English is the easiest language for English-speaking singers to perform. Without the work of translation, unfamiliar diction and communicating in a language most of the audience does not understand, it is reasonable to assume singing in English makes for an easier job.
But any relief provided by performing English songs — rather than Spanish or Italian — dissolves with the additional responsibilities inherent in singing in the vernacular.
“English is the easiest to memorize, but it’s the hardest to perfect because it’s the language that everyone else can understand,” said baritone Thomas Lehman, one of three Chautauqua Opera Company Studio Artists performing today. “And the common problem with all singers is that we take English for granted. If you don’t have true meaning behind every word that you say, nobody understands what you’re saying, even though it’s in English.”
With their first opera production behind them, Chautauqua Opera Company’s Young Artists explore German cabaret and Neopolitan songs this week in the “Artsongs in the Afternoon” series.
At 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, soprano Kelley Hollis, mezzo-soprano Kaitlin Bertenshaw, and tenor Christopher Hutchinson open their performance together with Bellini’s “Angiol di pace” from Beatrice di Tenda. The vocalists each will sing two solo sets, finishing the afternoon with a surprise ensemble piece that pertains to Chautauqua. Pianist Rick Hoffenberg collaborates with the singers.
Though Lucia di Lammermoor is over, the subject of young women meeting a violent end remains in Hollis’ first set. Libby Larsen’s 2001 Try me, Good King: Last Words of the Wives of Henry VIII illustrates the final moments for each of the tyrant’s wives. Hollis will sing “Anne Boleyn,” whose beheading is legendary, “Jane Seymour,” who died through childbirth complications, and “Katherine Howard,” who was “a silly little girl who made little-girl mistakes and got punished as an adult for them,” Hollis said.
In an art song recital, the singer and pianist are not the only two responsible for the mood achieved during performance.
“I think the audience has a lot to do with the atmosphere,” said tenor Kevin Newell. “Art song is so personal and intimate, and if you have a stodgy audience, it tends to be a stodgy recital.”
At 4 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, mezzo-soprano Rachel Arky, bass David Leigh, and pianist Miriam Charney will join Newell for the second “Artsongs” recital this season.