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Drama, Vocal Gold, and Musical Fun

BWW Review: SIGNATURE RECITAL: CHRISTINE GOERKE AND CRAIG TERRY at Home Computer Screens On May 7, 2021, soprano Christine Goerke and Pianist Craig Terry gave a Signature Recital that was filmed at: the Art Factory in Paterson, New Jersey. It can be seen on the Los Angeles Opera website as part of the five-part Signature Recital Series offered for $45 per household. Performances will be streamed until July 1, 2021.

Goerke and Terry opened with a wildly dramatic rendition of Handel's fire and brimstone"Furie Terribili," ("Dreadful Furies") from Rinaldo. They brought every couch potato to attention while they performed. Goerke then introduced a group of less well known Italian songs in honor of her mother whose lineage is Sicilian and Neapolitan.

Tosti's charming "L'Ultima Canzona," ("The Last Song") speaks of the would-be lover who doesn't get the lovely bride but tells her he will think of her always. Respighi's atmospheric "Nebbie," ("Mists") chill another unloved lover who laments his fate in a dark valley, while Cimara's graceful "Stornello" ("Starling") rides the wave of Goerke's brilliant high notes.

Zandonai nostalgic "Sotto Il Ciel" ("Under Heaven") is just one of the many Italian songs by nineteenth and twentieth century composers that are rarely heard in the concert hall. They are most enjoyable and I hope that Goerke and Terry's renditions will remind other artists that there is a world of Italian song waiting to be appreciated. Tosti's songs are frequently performed. There is a Youtube recording of Renata Tebaldi and Richard Bonynge's rendition of Federico Ricci's amusing "Il Carrettiere del Vomero" ("The Vomero Carter," possibly better known as the "Dammit Song").

Singing "Voi lo sapete O Mama," ("You know it, Mama") from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, Goerke returned to relate Santuzza's dramatic tale of love found for a little while, then lost forever-with magnificent excursions into chest voice. I loved the way Terry brings out some of the inner melodies rarely heard in piano reductions of opera scores.

Goerke sang the Richard Strauss group, "Zueignung" ("Dedication"), "Nichts" ("Nothing"), "Die Georgine" ("The Dahlia"), with all the colors of her evocative vocal tapestry as she expressed the drama of songs. Brahms' music often reveals the the most beautiful sonorities of mid range voices. Brahms, "Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen" ("No more to go to you"), and "Botschaft" ("Message") were delightful. Goerke's voice has not only gotten bigger over the years, it has become more resonant with a shining, silky quality.

Robert Owens was an American pianist and composer who moved to Munich in the 1950s. There, he wrote songs in the tradition of Schubert, Wolf, and Brahms, but infused his works with elements of American and African-American musical style. Goerke and Terry performed Owens's Three Songs: "Die Nacht" ("The Night"), "Morgendämmerung" ("Dawn"), "Die Verliebte reisende" ("The lover-traveler") with attention to both the old world and the new.

If brevity is the soul of wit, Carrie Jacobs-Bond wrote the world's most witty songs. Her Half-Minute Songs are just that, and very funny in the hands of a fine recital-comedienne like Goerke. Betty Comden, Adolf Green and Leonard Bernstein's "One Hundred Ways to Lose a Man" from Wonderful Town was fun to hear and Walter Kent's "The Last Mile Home" brought out the handkerchiefs. My household dedicated Cole Porter's "Why Can't You Behave?" from Kiss Me, Kate to a pet who prefers to live in the yard and devour what she catches instead of eating healthy cat food. Loved that bit of "Habanera" from Carmen Terry inserted at the end.

This glorious recital ended with a song we all need to embrace at this time of awakening from the pandemic. Jason Robert Brown tells us "We have to find hope in the wreckage of what hope used to be." Thank you, Christine Goerke and Craig Terry, for a recital that lifts the spirit and can inspire listeners to give hope a chance.

Photo of Christine Goerke by Arielle Doneson.


Handel, Rinaldo, "Furie Terribili," ("Dreadful Furies")

Tosti, "L'Ultima Canzona," ("The Last Song")

Respighi, "Nebbie," ("Mists")

Cimara, "Stornello" ("Starling")

Zandonai "Sotto Il Ciel" ("Under Heaven")

Ricci, "Il Carrettiere del Vomero" ("The Vomero Carter")

Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana, "Voi lo sapete O Mama," ("You know it, Mama")

Strauss, "Zueignung" ("Dedication"), "Nichts" ("Nothing"), "Die Georgine" ("The Dahlia")

Owens, Three Songs: "Die Nacht" ("The Night"), "Morgendämmerung" ("Dawn"), "Die Verliebte reisende" ("The lover-traveler")

Jacobs-Bond, Half-Minute Songs

Bernstein, Wonderful Town, "One Hundred Ways to Lose a Man"

Kent, "The Last Mile Home"

Porter, Kiss Me Kate, "Why Can't You Behave?"

Brown, "Hope"

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