United Kingdom Various composers, Carly Paoli – ‘Singing My Dreams’: Federico Paciotti (tenor), Andrea Griminelli (flute), Tring Park 16, Abiah Symphony Orchestra / Steven Mercurio (conductor). Cadogan Hall, London, 15.2.2018. (JPr)
Updated 1 June 2018: Carly Paoli has been nominated for a classic BRIT award: http://www.classicfm.com/
Carly Paoli’s debut album Singing My Dreams is described as ‘the personal story of a little girl who fell in love with the MGM musicals; a teenager who sang in the piazzas of Puglia; a student who studied her craft at Tring Park and The Royal Northern College of Music; a rising international star who has sung with – and is lauded by – luminaries including Andrea Bocelli, Elaine Paige, David Foster and, on several occasions, Carreras.’ On this charming ‘collection of classical and classic pieces, and original compositions – some featuring lyrics by Carly herself’ one of the tracks is a duet with José Carreras (‘En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor’) and he is amongst several luminaries who have heaped praise on this young singer who – despite her name – was born in Mansfield. Carreras has said how ‘Carly is a wonderful person to work with. I admire her voice, artistry and her charisma. It’s a pleasure for me to sing with her.’ Her Italian roots are from her mother’s side though she was born in Chesterfield after her maternal grandfather came to the UK after the war, and it is his surname Carly uses when performing. Her English father controls a fleet of lorries and so hers is not perhaps the most conventional background for an opera singer.
Having performed at some of the world’s most iconic venues, including Carnegie Hall, the O2 Arena and the Roman Forum, Carly was now making her debut UK headline concert at Cadogan Hall. She was joined by Grammy-Award winner, conductor and composer Steven Mercurio, Italian tenor Federico Paciotti, renowned flautist Andrea Griminelli and winners of the BBC’s Songs of Praise Choir of the Year 2016, Tring Park 16, alongside the Abiah Symphony Orchestra. The evening was described as ‘an opportunity to experience the emotional, sincere and dramatic performances that have captured audiences wherever the young artist has appeared’ and that is exactly what it did.
Her delightful album was showcased by Carly’s two opening songs; Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Music of Heaven’ and ‘Still Dream’ by Alexandre Desplat (music) and Lindsay-Abaire (lyrics). Both seemed like musical testaments for Carly and were sung with great feelings; most impressive was her relaxed presence on the concert platform and the sheer joy of performing which was evident throughout her entire programme. If you read some of the words from ‘Music of Heaven’ such as:
Like there could be music of Heaven
That opened some path to your soul
And let something glorious in
Music of Heaven
Allows you to give up control …
Yes, yes –
Let the music begin
And from ‘Still Dream’:
Do you remember building bridges in the air?
Every hope you had and every prayer
They’re all still there if you dream
Oh, what you’ll find if you dream
Time to close your eyes
But when you awake
It is clear how very personal songs can be to Carly and this came through in her performance of these and other songs where her heart was clearly on her sleeve such as Ennio and Andrea Morricone’s ‘Se tu Fossi’ from Cinema Paradiso (with some of her own English words) and ‘Where or When’ from the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms (these also are featured on Singing My Dreams). I see Carly referred to as a mezzo-soprano, but her voice seems to have a very wide range and effortlessly straddles the eclectic genres of popular music, songs from musicals, as well as, arias from opera. A couple of highlights of this concert were the more operatic numbers such as an impassioned ‘Mi Mancherai’ (the well-known theme from the film Il Postino) and a radiant ‘Song to the Moon’ from Dvořák’s Rusalka. There was much more also to enjoy from a French themed medley called ‘La Ville de L’Amour’ and another collection of songs (‘True Love’s Kiss’) from famous animated films.
As mentioned above, Carly went to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and having some of their talented students – the vocal group Tring Park 16 – accompanying her in some of the music was understandably very significant for her. They got their own chance to shine with an a capella ‘Joshua fit the battle of Jericho’ proving their worth as the winner of TV’s Senior School Choir of the Year in 2016. Also supporting Carly was Federico Paciotti who – as well as joining Carly for ‘Mi Mancherai’ – sang ‘Mater Misericordiae’ to Mascagni’s music and Handel’s ‘Lascia Ch’io Pianga’ all accompanied by some riffs on Paciotti’s electric guitar. (I hope he will forgive me by writing that however well sung these were they could have been even better without the guitar!) The veteran flautist Andrea Griminelli showed his truly remarkably virtuosity when performing Monti’s ‘Czardas’, and I particularly enjoyed his rendition of Morricone’s ‘American Themes’ (from Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good the Bad and the Ugly). Throughout the concert the Abiah Symphony Orchestra provided solid support under the enthusiastic urgings of Steven Mercurio and they brought an Italianate fervour to much of what we heard, as well as, their own ‘moment in the spotlight’ Nino Rota’s ‘Dolce Vita’.
Her encore – a suitably plaintive and superbly sung ‘(Somewhere) Over The Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz – brought many in the Cadogan Hall to their feet to deservedly acclaim Carly Paoli for a most enjoyable concert and to wish her well for whatever the future may have in store for her.