Two superb singers, Nadine Sierra and Pretty Yende, sing from opera, zarzuela and musicals at Teatro Real

SpainSpain Various: Nadine Sierra, Pretty Yende (sopranos). Teatro Real Orchestra / Pablo Mielgo (conductor). Teatro Real, Madrid, 25.4.2024. (JMI)

Nadine Sierra © J. del Real

Rossini – Overture to The Barber of Seville
Bellini – ‘Ah! Non credea mirarti’ from La sonnambula (Yende); ‘Si, fino all’ore estreme’ from Norma (Sierra, Yende)
Verdi – ‘È strano! . . . Sempre libera’ from La traviata (Sierra)
Offenbach – ‘Les oiseaux dans la charmille’ from Les contes d’Hoffman (Yende)
Gounod – ‘Ah! Je veux vivre’ from Roméo et Juliette (Sierra)
Delibes – ‘Sous le dôme épais’ from Lakmé (Sierra, Yende)
Chapí – Prelude to El tambor de granaderos
Giménez – ‘Me llaman la primorosa’ from El barbero de Sevilla (Sierra); ‘Sierras de Granada’, ‘La tarántula e un bicho mu malo’ from La Tempranica (Yende)
Velázquez – ‘Bésame mucho’ (Sierra)
Bernstein – Overture to Candide; ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story (Sierra, Yende)
Herbert – ‘Art Is Calling for Me’ from The Enchantress (Yende)

The Teatro Real offers a number of concerts every year. Most often, these are operas in concert, although the theatre also hosts recitals with excellent singers. That was the case here, and the event featured two sopranos, American Nadine Sierra and South African Pretty Yende.

For me, the main draw was the presence of Nadine Sierra, who has become one of the most important sopranos today. Her recent triumphs include La traviata in Paris, Juliette in Gounod’s opera at the Metropolitan Opera and, at Covent Garden, a great Lucia di Lammermoor. Pretty Yende is also an outstanding soprano, her latest successes coming in Munich and Frankfurt as Adina in L’elisir d’amore and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

This concert had two parts: the first was dedicated to opera, while the second featured songs from zarzuela and musicals.

In her first individual number, Nadine Sierra sang the aria and cabaletta from La traviata which was brilliant and emotional. Her interpretation of ‘Je veux vivre’ from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette was also spectacular. She opened the second part of the recital with a romanza, ‘Me llaman la primorosa’, from the zarzuela El barbero de Sevilla, where she gave an impressive exhibition of fiato, technique and sympathy. She continued with the well-known ‘Bésame mucho’ to which, in my opinion, her voice is less suited, falling short in the low notes.

Pretty Yende ranges from light soprano to mezzo-soprano. She opened with the big scene from Bellini’s La sonnambula, which she sang well though not brilliantly, and she gave a bright rendition, vocally and dramatically, of Olympia’s aria from Les contes d’ Hoffmann. In the second part of the concert, she did a romanza from La Tempranica, ‘Sierras de Granada’, followed by ‘La tarantula’ from the same zarzuela. (Her Spanish was somewhat unintelligible to me.) She ended her individual recitals with a fun, well-sung ‘Art Is Calling for Me’ from the musical The Enchantress.

Pretty Yende, Nadine Sierra and the Teatro Real Orchestra © J. del Real

The singers offered some duets where Pretty Yende did the mezzo-soprano parts, for which her voice is not the best-suited although she could be heard without problems. They started with a duet from Norma, where Nadine Sierra shone, and gave a fine performance of ‘Sous le dôme épais’ from Lakmé. In the second half, they sang a fun and nicely done ‘I Feel Pretty’ from West Side Story. Their encore – which was enjoyed by the audiences – was a medley of songs from the movies including ‘As Time Goes By’ (Casablanca), ‘Moon River’ (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), ‘The Way We Were’ (from the film of the same name) and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ (The Wizard of Oz).

Pablo Mielgo oversaw the musical direction with the Teatro Real Orchestra and made a positive impression on me, especially in his interpretation of the overture from Bernstein’s Candide.

José M. Irurzun

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