Spain Beethoven, Schumann, Karlowicz, R.Strauss, Verdi, Cilea, Rimski et al, Piotr Beczala (tenor), Kristin Okerlund (piano), Perelada’s Carmen Church, 5.8.2013 (JMI).
There are times when a singer can change the course of an opera and even an entire festival. Such is what happened as a result of Piotr Beczala’s recital last night at Perelada.
My 3 day stay here offered me the opportunity to see the premiere in Spain of Das Liebesverbot and the much anticipated Norma with Sondra Radvanovsky. In between, as a good complement, we had a recital by Piotr Beczala. After last night’s triumph, he has become the focal point of the whole Perelada Festival. We should look forward to an outstanding Norma and hope it isn’t overshadowed by Beczala’s recital.
Piotr Beczala is one of the great tenors of today even though he is not preceded by media drums. His beautiful lyric tenor voice, his homogeneity along the whole tessitura, his singing technique and his professionalism are attributes that few singers like him can offer. I can’t remember a time when I found him in as great a vocal shape as he is now. Even his usual tendency to have his high notes somewhat backwards went unnoticed. We were really fortunate to attend this demanding recital where we could enjoy both his voice and his art.
The concert consisted of three different parts. The first part was dedicated to Lied, the second to opera and the third – the encores – to the pure exhibition of the singer.
There were no fireworks in the first part of the program, but a collection of songs beautifully expressed by Beczala, starting witha performance of Beethoven’s Adelaide: which portended the expectation that this could be an exceptional performance. The 8 songs by Robert Schumann revealed an extraordinary liederist who reached his peak in the 5 Songs by his compatriot Mieczyslaw Karlowicz: in these songs he was second to none. He finished the first part of the concert with 3 perfectly interpreted Richard Strauss lieder.
The second part had opera as its core and here Mr. Beczala was truly exceptional. He began with two Verdi arias, Di tu si fedele from Un Ballo in Maschera, and La mia letizia infondere from of I Lombardi. He was particularly brilliant in the latter piece. He followed with Il Lamento di Federico from Cilea’s L’Arlésiana where he again exceled. A most beautiful Indian song from Sadko, led to a outstanding rendition of E lucevan le stelle from Puccini’s Tosca. Before the end of the concert he came back to the music of his country in a magnificent interpretation of an aria from the opera Janek, by Zelenski. He finished with a spectacular Dein ist mein ganzes herz from Franz Lehar’s Das Land des Lächelns, coming very close to the always superlative performance by Jussi Björling.
As encores he offered a very brilliant interpretation of Cuore ingrato, followed by Gounod’s aria Ah! Lève-toi, soleil, from Romeo et Juliette, a rendition which had the audience on their feet. He finished with a personal version of O Sole Mio.
I should also mention the excellent job from Kristin Okerlund at the piano.
The church was nearly at its full capacity of 400 seats and the the audience gave triumphal applause to Mr. Beczala with sounding cheers and standing ovations. In short, a great concert from an exultant Beczala.
José Mª. Irurzun