December 10, 2017
Alexandra Urquiola, sang her Master’s Degree Recital last night to a crowd of people who quite plainly adore her. I sing with Alexandra in a church choir in the Yale community, so I completely understand why that is. She is smart, beautiful, slightly cheeky, and has an unreserved sense of humor and a spectacular head of hair.
I previously reviewed Alexandra when she performed Walton’s, The Bear, with Yale Opera last spring. In The Bear, Ms. Urquiola played Popova with just the right amount of self-pitying melodrama. Her comedic timing and impish flirtation kept us laughing while she beautifully sang her way into the arms of one of her late husband’s creditors.
Last night, we were treated to a smart program that gave us a view of her more contemplative side, and we were dazzled, not just by her lovely voice, but by her absolute commitment to her lyric and the dramatic narrative of the poems.
Ms. Urquiola began the evening with Zwei Gesänge, by Brahms. Violist Alexandra Simpson joined pianist Kyle Swann on these beautiful songs that made full use of Alexandra’s warm low notes. Trois Chansons de Bilitis, By Debussy followed, and the numbers theme was rounded out by Seis Canciones, by Eduardo Toldrà.
I was unfamiliar with the Toldrà section, and I was completely enchanted by these fun songs. While her performance in the Brahms and Debussy sections was terrific, Ms. Urquiola delivered the Seis Canciones with joy and fire and a degree of comfort that made it seem as though these songs were written for her.
Ms. Urquiola has a set of eyes that are never without emotion. I was sitting in the middle of the orchestra section, and I can tell you that her eyes read all the way to the back of the hall. Her poise and the delight she takes in performing gives the audience so much to see. And much to hear as well.
This Mezzo-Soprano has a sweet, lyrical quality to her upper range, and as previously mentioned, warm and inviting low notes. I would love to see her take some more time with those high notes. I get the feeling she lets them go way before she needs to, and I found myself craving a lingering high note, placed right in her sweet spot between her lyricism and her dramatic overtones. But perhaps I am just greedy.
Elgar’s sumptuous Sea Pictures took the second half of this lovely program. Ms. Urquiola’s grace, talent, and her beauty, both inside and out, made for another great night at Sprague Hall.