On Tuesday evening February 4th, the third of Portland Opera’s Resident Artists, mezzo-soprano Melissa Fajardo, gave a recital at the Portland Art Museum. Accompanied on the keyboard by Assistant Conductor and Chorus Master Nicholas Fox, the two artists teamed up to offer an exciting evening of music.
In the audience to hear the program and lend support to their fellow singer were soprano Elizabeth Futral and the other cast members of Portland Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Being able to visit and chat with them before the program and at intermission made the evening even more special.
After a few introductory remarks, Ms. Fajardo began the evening by singing Rossini’s tour de force Giovanna d’Arco, a solo cantata that the famed composer dedicated to his beloved Olympe in 1859 after he retired from operatic composition. Resembling an operatic scene in form and mood, Ms. Fajardo’s rendering of the French saint’s passionate “aria” sent sparks through the auditorium and started the evening off with a bang. Next was “A Charm of Lullabies” by Benjamin Britten, a set of five such songs riding on an undercurrent of darkness and tension despite the composer’s opus 41 title. Pianist and singer moved the crowd with their brilliant if somber rendition.
Mr. Fox introduced the music for the second half of the program. In five lieder by Gustav Mahler, based on romantic poems by Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866), the composer demonstrated both his “earthly” and “cosmic” love. Indeed, our commentator-pianist admitted to the last of the Mahler songs, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (“I have lost touch with the world”), as being his very favorite among all art songs. Ms. Fajardo’s singing of them was inspirational and deeply moving.
Ms. Fajardo completed her recital program with three delightful melodies by the French composer of Carmen, Georges Bizet. The composer’s melodic talents were easily seen in this trio of songs and our mezzo-soprano sang them beautifully.
Once again, the large audience in the museum’s Whitsell Auditorium was treated to a fabulous evening of music. You will surely want to catch the last of these concerts this season when Resident Artist tenor, Ian José Ramirez, appears in this superb concert venue on Tuesday evening April 8. You can make your free reservation (though a $20 per person donation to help further the Resident Artist program is greatly appreciated) by calling the museum at 503-226-2811 or going on line to www.portlandopera.com/events