Thursday, October 25, 2007

Five Things about Kiri Te Kanawa

I heard the "Farewell Recital" of Kiri Te Kanawa at the Kimmel Center Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
1. The crowd was pretty boring and not very excited at the outset - a medium house couldn't be blamed on the rain - it was too bad because what followed for the night was exquisite. After intermission the energy was higher in the crowd. Everyone also applauded after every song, even when it was only a few minutes long - so while that wouldn't normally bother me - it was musically interuptive in the song sets. Dame Kiri would smile occassionally and nod, but all too often someone had to clap over the sublime sounds of Warren Jones at the keyboard. While their love for Kiri's artistry was great, there wasn't much respect for the music.

2. Having Kiri sing a set of Richard Strauss songs, including some of my favorites: Die Nacht and Morgen, was heavenly. One felt she was singing to just you, despite being in a large concert hall.

3. If something better could follow Strauss, it was the nasally and sumptous Duparc songs, with breathy and irresistible singing. Again, Warren Jones outdid himself as a collaborative pianist.

4. The second half was filled with more energy, and showed a lighter side to Dame Kiri, from her speaking about Jake Heggie and the everyday man (common if you will) humor of Copland's "Why do they shut me out of Heaven?". Several times Kiri checked notes or words placed slyly on the piano lid - who cares, it was magnificent!

5. The encores, Ginastera's "Song of the Olive Tree" was vibrant and sexy; Richard Rodney Bennett's "Goodbye For Now" was charming and sweet. You wanted more and knew unlike some artists who have performed well past their prime, that Dame Kiri is finishing at the top of her game - we'll look forward to her teaching and more intimate performances.

Catch Dame Kiri on this tour if you can, and while you're at it, buy her Traviata or Capriccio or Four Last Songs - you'll be glad you did.

Also see this post about Kiri, tea and me.

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