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Fearless – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Singers: Camila Titinger, Chrystal E. Williams

Accompanist: David Cowan

Never knowingly underused, the Howard Assembly Room opened up on late Sunday afternoon, internet hosting a brief, imaginatively curated, impeccably carried out live performance by two of the celebrities of the Opera North Carmen, Chrystal E. Williams (mezzo) and Camila Titinger (soprano). The title of Fearless alluded to girls who have been courageous sufficient to not conform and, if the programme included some fairly borderline alternatives on that foundation, it proved an admirable mixture of excessive seriousness and enjoyable.

Fearlessness has all the time been a requirement for any feminine composer, actually till comparatively not too long ago, and the 2 chosen by Williams and Titinger had further obstacles to beat. Clara Schumann was labelled as purely a live performance pianist and needed to emerge from the shadow of a husband who was each a celebrated composer and in his final years an inmate of a psychological asylum. Camila Titinger’s splendid efficiency of two songs revealed Clara Schumann as a Lieder composer of distinction, the primary intense, however refined, the second gentler. Chrystal Williams selected a tune by Margaret Bonds who, as a feminine black American composer in the midst of the 20th century, had certainly to be fearless to succeed. Williams sang The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Bonds’ setting of the Langston Hughes poem, with deep involvement, aided by David Cowan’s surging piano accompaniment.

In three duets not solely did the singers’ voices complement one another completely, however they acted out the relationships with infectious enjoyment. From Handel’s Rodelinda a dramatic duet of heroic rescue somewhat bent the principles because the fearless protagonist was a male character, however the efficiency made for a suitably expressive opening, the vocal traces twining and separating. Mozart’s proto-feminist sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, in Cost fan Tutte, selected their lovers in a efficiency of playful irony and the night was rounded off with The Girl from Ipanema, first in Portuguese by the Italian/Brazilian Camila Titinger, then in English, a light-hearted dancing finale.

The remaining songs consisted of 1 operatic merchandise every and one which mirrored the singer’s origins. Williams sang and acted Rossini’s Una voce poco fa from The Barber of Seville fantastically, starting from the docile to the tigerish, and Titinger projected Liu’s self-sacrificing heroism affectingly in two arias from Turandot.

Titinger additionally gave a haunting efficiency of a tune by Brazil’s nationwide composer, Heitor Villa Lobos, and Chrystal Williams spoke movingly of the plight of black American slaves earlier than launching into a surprising set of spirituals, culminating within the triumphant Ride On, King Jesus.

Both singers and their admirable accompanist, David Cowan, offered casual, however informative, introductions to the songs, just a few of which have been acquainted.

Reviewed on November 7th 2021

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