Friday, March 12, 2010

REVIEW: Simone Osborne Lieder Recital

Simone gave a performance that is full of promise; a promise that I hope to see fulfilled in the near future.
Part of the 38th Hong Kong Arts Festival, this recital on the 11th of March at the Hong Kong City Hall Drama Theatre attracted a capacity audience.

The programme was designed into three parts: Liszt, Schumann and Strauss with Andrea Grant at the piano. Simone's interpretation was very consistent; maybe too consistent. She possesses a beautiful big, dark and rich voice with distinctively deep and wide vibrato. This, matched with her very enthusiastic personality made me felt like she was singing in a Verdi or Puccini opera in an opera house rather than lieder in a small theatre.

She showed great understanding of the text through very expressive facial contortions and hands declarations but little in vocal coloring. Rather than feeling that she was telling me something in confident, I felt that the audience was assembled for a press conference! The thought that I was in a plaza looking up at Evita giving a speech on the balcony didn't escape me.

The recital did improve as her voice warmed up, as the programme moved from Liszt to Strauss; and as my ears got accustomed to the tone, volume, vibrato and acting. By the time Simone was singing Strauss, I was sincerely enjoying the recital.

Simone was very generous to give four encores of which Jeanine Tesori's "The Girl in 14 G" was the first. I first heard this song from broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. It is a funny song and it showed off Simone in her best light! Her effervescent personality, wonderful comedic timing and varied vocal production was an absolute pleasure! Another encore piece was "O mio babbino caro", an aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini. Again, I enjoyed her performance and decided that it would be really great to see her in a staged opera... perhaps as Rossini's Rosina or Puccini's Musetta.

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