Monday, September 24, 2007

...But Life Got In the Way...

I've been away from here for much too long! It seems like I'm only writing about an entry a week these days, though my goal is to do it twice a week.

Things have been kinda crazy though. I sang a recital at the Donnell Library a week ago today. I shared it with my friend Marianne Labriola. I had a great time. I did a Schubert group and a Rodgers & Hart set. That last was a gesture in a new direction for me.

For the Schubert, I did four his late settings of Seidl poems, some of my favorites among his songs: "Der Wanderer an den Mond", "Am Fenster", "Im Freien", and "Die Taubenpost". Each one of them speaks so deeply to me. The first, Schubert's perpetual wanderer addressing the moon, wishing that, like the moon, he could feel that the world and the sky was his home and not that he was a stranger everywhere he went. The second is about the joy of someone who has cut himself off from the world to pursue a contemplative life. The third is the poet gazing down through the night, as if from the sky, at places that are dearest to his heart. And the last one is about a symbolic dove that carries sighs as if they were letters, all in the name of longing. So it's clear why all of those might be dear to my heart.

The Rodgers & Hart was important to me for an altogether different reason. I have written before of my interest in putting together a cabaret program (the theme of which is becoming clearer to me) and this was my first chance to sing some standards in public. I was nervous, and yet with Bill Lewis at the piano and many of my dearest friends in the office, it was not as scary as it could have been.

I sang "Glad To Be Unhappy," "I Wish I Were In Love Again," "My Funny Valentine," and "With a Song In My Heart," which is practically an aria anyway. I ended up singing the second one in my baritone range; I just couldn't make it work singing it up an octave. It's just as well. It took a lot of the pressure.

I had wanted to do "I'll Tell the Man In the Street" from I Married an Angel, but evidently it's a rarity. How was I supposed to know? I grew up with Barbra Streisand's recording on her first album and there are also okay versions by Kristen Chenoweth and Mary Cleere Haran, but other than Nelson Eddy of the original cast, I found out there aren't too many other recordings. I thought about doing it a cappella, but there will be time to suss out the music eventually.
Of the songs I did sing, I thought the last two were the best. I almost lost it when I sang "My Funny Valentine," because I flashed so clearly on all the men that I have loved in my life. And there was one day when NN called me from work on Valentine's Day to ask if I knew the words, which of course I did. In my mind's eye, not only did I see him, but I saw them all. And two of them were in the audience. So even if it weren't for the beauty of the words, I also had a personal association with the song. Anyway, whenever someone sings the meaning of the words, really sings them, the music takes flight. And I could feel it happen here, just as it did in the last two Schubert.

And "With a Song In My Heart"... well, how can you not love it? I tried not to take a page from Jessye's version, but it does have an operatic sensibility that one can't ignore. Interestingly, I was just listening to an early recording of the song by a cabaret singer called Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson), who was evidently the Prince of Wales' favorite singer! Anyway, Hutch is very much a cabaret singer who sells the song with almost no voice at all. Shades of Mabel Mercer, who I am finally learning to appreciate, even love.

The other thing that happened last week is that I was, quite unexpectedly, elected Vice President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation at our board meeting on Wednesday. I am completely dedicated to the Foundation and its various aims, primarily perpetuating the name of Lotte Lehmann as well as furthering her legacy by bringing art song into the limelight. We now have a composition competition in partnership with ASCAP as well as a vocal competition (for which I judged the finals this past winter). So I'm proud of that.

Giannina Arangi-Lombardi
I have so many singers I've been listening to recently that I absolutely must write about: Delia Reinhardt, Judy Raskin, Povla Frijsh and FĂ©lia Litvinne, the last two of whom both proved to be completely different from what I expected, though in completely different ways. Plus Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, whom I've always loved, but now I've heard her Aida and now I'm a raving maniac (for her singing, of course).

So I hope to do entries on each of them very soon.

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1 Comments:

Blogger AndrewGoesBroadway said...

OH MY GOSH! You did a Rodgers & Hart set? Now, I am really really upset that I didn't make it to your recital. Have another one soon, and don't leave me off the e-mail list. Oh, Congratulations, by the way. You really are doing a great job of creating your own opportunities. It's inspiring me.

September 26, 2007 at 7:30 AM  

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