Ellen Ciompi, a cabaret singer in the Triangle area, has found a way to balance her love of music with her career. In her bio she states she “supports her singing career by working as a surgical nurse at UNC Hospital.” Last Sunday in the Nelson Music Room at Duke University, she presented “Taking a Chance on Love: An Evening of Cabaret” with the help of her musical director and talented pianist Glenn Mehrbach, and guest bassist Ben Palmer.
Mrs. Ciompi’s repertoire explored the relationships between luck and love and how music has equated the two throughout the history of musical theatre and pop. Spanning from “Luck be a Lady” to “But Not for Me” to “Pokerface,” Ciompi presented a variety of pieces expressing a relationship between fortune (or the lack thereof) and love. Her quirky banter between song sets allowed for a nice flow from one theme to the next, although some elements of the performance seemed misplaced and Lady Gaga’s pop hit “Pokerface” stuck out like a sore thumb. While making cultural connections can be beneficial for an audience unfamiliar with some repertoire, Mrs. Ciompi’s audience consisted of adults and educated listeners, most likely quite familiar with Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Stephen Sondheim. The inclusion of “Pokerface” certainly added variety but did nothing to compliment the performance. The odd prop here and there distracted from Mrs. Ciompi’s program, as well. While the gag of increasing the size of the golden earrings in “Golden Earrings” was humorous, Mrs. Ciompi’s lovely alto voice and personable presence needed no prop or pop song to help her relate to the audience or jazz up her routine.
The most admirable segment of the program came with the encore when Ciompi presented, for the second time in a public venue, a song she had written for her husband, “Ever so Quietly.” This tender personal touch served as a nice bookend for a special concert, especially since so many of Mrs. Ciompi’s family were in attendance to enjoy her very own creation.
Ellen Ciompi will be performing next at the Guglhupf Café & Bakery on March 24, a setting which should prove to be the perfect accommodation for a night of musical standards. Additional upcoming performances are listed at http://www.ellenciompi.com/What_s_New.html.