Thursday, November 10, 2011

Salon at the Rex: Nadine Sierra

Yesterday soprano Nadine Sierra & pianist Tamara Sanikidze presented an amiable 70 minute recital perfectly scaled to the cozy Salon at the Hotel Rex. Ms. Sierra announced the program as she went along, telling us personal stories behind each selection as if we were a gathering of friends. We learned that she started singing at 6 & got serious about pursuing opera at 10. She began with Juliet's Waltz, with which she won the Met Opera Council Auditions in 2009, just out of her teens. Her singing was joyful, & her high notes sounded relaxed & unstrained. I especially like her middle range, though, which was luscious & sultry in "Summertime." Harold Arlen's "A Sleepin' Bee" was dreamy & included nice little slides.

Ms. Sanikidze also spoke to us between songs & did not hold back her funny & out-going personality. She admitted she "sucked" as a 7-year-old conservatory student in the Soviet Union, but her competitive nature led her to practice 9 hours a day & finish 1st in her classes after that. She responded "Cry me a river!" to Ms. Sierra's story of being made to practice 1 hour every day at 6 years old.

Both singer & pianist worked together to create a full-force climax for Grieg's "Ein Traum". Ms. Sierra acknowledged her Portugese background in the comic patter song "Engenho Novo." She ended with "O mio babbino caro," because she can always make her tough firefighter father cry when she sings it. The musicians did a Q&A afterward, & Ms. Sierra hinted that her goal of performing at La Scala might be closer than she imagined. The last question was, "Can you do an encore?" Ms. Sierra professed not to have one, but Ms. Sanikidze saved the day by pulling out a dreamy Poulenc song, "from my reserves."

§ Nadine Sierra, soprano
Tamara Sanikidze, piano

Charles Gounod: "Je veux vivre" from Roméo et Juliette
Gershwin: "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess
Harold Arlen: "A Sleepin' Bee" from House of Flowers
Franz Lehar: Vilja Song from The Merry Widow
Edvard Grieg: "Ein Traum"
Stephen Foster: "Beautiful Dreamer"
Ernani Braga: "Engenho Novo"
Giacomo Puccini: "O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi

Francis Poulenc: "Les chemins de l'amour"

San Francisco Performances
Salon at the Rex
Wednesday, November 9
6:30 pm
Hotel Rex

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