Senior voice recitals inspire with elegance, selection
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2013 00:04
Sometimes great things come in small packages. For the petite Emily Spence ’13, this is sincerely the case. A history major and music minor from Needham, Mass., she treated Brandi Recital Hall to her big soprano voice at her senior voice recital on Saturday, March 30.
Spence has participated in Kenyon’s Opera and Musical Theater Workshop for the past four years and also performed in the Angela Waite Recital in May 2012.
Her mastery of the opera style was obvious as she elegantly and energetically performed a combination of pieces ranging from operas by Mozart and Verdi and English dance songs by John Dowland and Henry Purcell, to a movement from Handel’s famous “Messiah,” selections from Strauss and a lyric-free piece by Rachmaninoff.
After warming up the crowd with “L’amerò, sarò costante” from Mozart’s Il re pastore, Spence gracefully sang “What If I Never Speed” by Dowland and a set of pieces by Purcell, followed by Handel’s “Rejoice Greatly.”
Her performance of Strauss’ “Die Nacht” exhibited her full vocal range and her ability to convey emotion. In the gorgeous but somber “Vocalise” by Rachmaninoff, Spence showcased her vibrato and musical style.
Spence saved the best for last. She paired up with math major and baritone Nathan Huey ’13 to perform “Cinque, dieci,” the comedic and sweet opening piece of Mozart’s Italian opera, Le nozze di Figaro. Spence and Huey have worked together since their freshman year and in the Opera and Musical Theater Workshop. The magic of their friendship combined with their respective musical talents brought a different energy to the performance.
Susanna carried a hat with her, while Figaro held a measuring tape. The two characters sang in different styles — Susanna’s style was graceful and melodious as she was admiring the hat she had made and was showing off for Figaro, while Figaro’s was more urgent as he rushed around the room, attempting to measure a space for their bed. Throughout this song, the two successfully engaged the audience.
Last Friday, Brandi Hall was filled to the brim with audience members eagerly anticipating Julia Dopp’s senior recital. The anthropology and English double major has been studying voice throughout her time at Kenyon, and the culminating event in her musical career at the College proved very enjoyable.
Dopp began with a set of arias from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte that usually make most seasoned sopranos balk: “O Zittre Nicht” and “Der Hölle Rache.” Dopp’s high, clear notes did not fail to impress; neither did her accomplishment in producing the enraged Queen of the Night’s famous high F6 notes with minimal visible effort and with stunning precision.
For many other singers, it would have been difficult to top the energy and brilliance of the first two pieces, but Dopp had much more to offer, including the art song “Beau Soir” by Claude Debussy.
Joined by the accomplished Sarah Baldessari ’15 on the harp, Dopp poured forth a series of flowing phrases that showcased her mid-upper range and her rich, sweet timbre. Dopp ended the classical set with “Les Oiseaux dans la Charmille” from Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman.
Once again, Dopp displayed her acting talents, this time in portraying Olympia, a mechanical doll who, with hilarious facial expressions and movements, woos a young man who is so enamored he does not realize that she repeatedly malfunctions. When the incomparable Patricia Pelfrey actually stopped playing to minister to Dopp’s Olympia, pantomiming winding the “doll” back up so that she could continue her song, the audience erupted into laughter.