The Crouch Chapel of First Baptist Church was the intimate setting for the first recital of the fall vocal recital series sponsored by the Asheville Lyric Opera Guild. The featured vocalist, soprano Colette Boudreaux, is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Manhattan School of Music. She has appeared with Lyric Opera Cleveland, the Brevard Music Center, Grandview Opera, the American Musical Theater Ensemble, and the Asheville Lyric Opera. In 2008 she was a prizewinner in the Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Collaborative pianist Daniel Weiser, who recently moved to Asheville from Vermont, where he was a music faculty member of Dartmouth College, is a graduate of Columbia University and holds a Doctorate in Piano from the Peabody Conservatory. He is active as a chamber music player. The program consisted of thirty minutes of familiar, surefire vocal favorites, followed by a lunch hosted by the Guild.
The program began with "So anch'io la virtù magica,” Norina’s aria from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Boudreaux preceded each non-English piece with brief remarks on their operatic contexts. Next came Lauretta’s aria “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in which the high notes were certainly there, but thankfully not oversung. Madame Silberklang’s display aria “Bester Jüngling” from Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor was a delightful succession of cascading scales, roulades, and other vocal athleticisms — all sung with a smile. Boudreaux’s voice is a richly beautiful instrument — supple, silvery in tone, technically secure, and dramatically convincing. Weiser is a skilled, sensitive player, and a very good listener, as he followed the vocalist impeccably.
The remainder of the program was devoted to English-language repertory. For these, unfortunately, no context was given. “Dearest Mama” (The Letter Song) from Act I, Scene 4 of Douglas Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe was a heartfelt song of love lost and sad partings. This was followed by a funny tongue-in-cheek rendition of the sweetly maudlin "Poor wand'ring one" from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. Another shift in emotional gears led to the somber “Lost in the Stars,” the title song about whether God has abandoned mankind (originally for the baritone role of the Reverend Stephen Kumalo) from Kurt Weill’s opera. Ending the scheduled program was the Judy Garland classic “Over the Rainbow” from the movie The Wizard of Oz. The encore was Musetta’s seductive “Quando m'en vo'” from Act II of La Bohème.
These vocal recitals are listed on the Asheville Lyric Opera website and are well worth attending. If you go, be careful where you park, as there are several pay lots surrounding the church.