Argentina Brahms, Duparc, Puccini, Sibelius, Dvorák: Mozarteum Argentino. Karita Mattila (soprano), Martin Katz (piano) at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 29.7.2013. (JSJ)
Brahms: Meine Liebe ist grün …
Von ewiger Liebe
Duparc: Chanson triste
Au pays où se fait la guerre
Puccini: Sola, perduta, abbandonata
Våren flyktar hastigt
Dvorák: Mĕsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song of the moon)
Once again Mozarteum Argentino has brought another leading singer to Buenos Aires, this time the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who has made only one visit previously for a 1995 Simón Boccanegra.
Such is the stuff Ms Mattila has made her operatic career on. But she is also a noted recitalist and it was this she offered this time, with a varied and contrasting selection of songs from Brahms, Duparc, Sibelius and Dvorák, and just two operatic extracts from Puccini and again Dvorák.
As an example, Brahms’ Meine Liebe ist grün … provided a lively opening, only to be contrasted with the tender Wiegenlied – and Brahms’s lieder with Duparc’s chansons in the first half and the romantic songs of Sibelius with Dvorák’s Gipsy songs in the second.
The Sibelius songs were particularly noteworthy, and particularly the first, Illalle, as one of the very few songs, Ms Mattila told us, that he set in her (and his) native tongue – with most in Swedish, which, she added, Fins grow to be fluent in.
From the moment Ms Mattila stepped on stage, the sense of energy was apparent. And this came to the fore particularly in the two operatic extracts – the Puccini from Manon Lescaut and Dvorák from Rusalka – in which perhaps even more than in the songs she could express the extent of her dramatic powers. She also felt freer to express their emotions in movement, with elements of dance also coming into Dvorák’s characterful series of seven Gipsy songs, which she also sang barefoot!
All in all these works saw Ms Mattila singing in no less than six different languages (and she spoke in English) each as fluently as the next. And her long time accompanist Martin Katz was no less commanding at the keyboard playing with mastery and style in a partnership of clear understanding.
For encores, a Finnish tango, Unto Mononen’s Satumaa (‘Fairyland’) – apparently a ‘first’ for a good number of the audience, and although different, clearly related to Argentine tango – and a lovely O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi to close a memorable evening.
Jonathan Spencer Jones