Between the years of 1914 and 1918, World War I ravaged Europe. Marking the 100-year anniversary since the war began, the Chautauqua Opera Company saw fit to dedicate remembrance to the composers and poets of the Great War.
Laura Soto-Bayomi, soprano, executed a wide range of vocal dynamics while singing Francis Poulenc’s “Fêtes Galantes” from Deux Poèmes de Louis Aragon at the first recital of the season last Thursday in the Hall of Christ.
The Artsongs recital at 4:15 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ features a trio of Young Artists, all with deep voices.
At 4:15 p.m. today at the Hall of Christ, three Young Artists will be honoring this amalgam with a melting pot of art songs. From the Czech countryside to the streets of Manhattan, the artists will span a worldwide breadth of music, from the Old World to the New.
The singers in the Chautauqua Opera Company’s third Artsongs recital have followed three radically different paths to arrive at today’s 4:15 p.m. performance in the Hall of Christ.
The Chautauqua Opera Company’s “Artsongs in the Afternoon” series will open with a tribute to the dazzling dramatic tradition of cabaret.
At 4:15 p.m. today, the three singers performing in the Hall of Christ will welcome the audience to the show with Cabaret’s “Wilkommen.”
The decision to render a partially comical performance was not taken lightly. Cree Carrico, Tatiana Ogan and Clayton Brown, the trio of Young Artists performing today, spent the longest time deciding on their program, despite the fact that they are the first group to perform.
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.”
After the first “Artsongs in the Afternoon” performance in the Hall of Christ, Chautauqua Opera Company Artistic and General Director Jay Lesenger lingered at the back of the venue, speaking with appreciative audience members.
“Just a minute, I have to see my kids,” he said and hastened to the three performers.
His kids are quite adult, but that comment reveals the paternal care he gives to the young singers whose voices have brought Lucia di Lammermoor — and will bring Manon Lescaut — to life this season.
He will bring his electric passion as he describes “Chautauqua Opera Alive and Moving Forward” Thursday at 9:15 a.m. for the Chautauqua Speaks program in the Chautauqua Women’s Clubhouse.