History invoked through opera

Sarah Komisky

American Art Songs transported audiences back in time to a Victorian era, early 1900s, and mid 1900s with works of early American composers Amy Beach, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Nicolas, John Alden Carpenter, and many more.

Melissa McIntosh, Soprano and Timothy Durkovic, Pianist recreated opera music of this period Nov. 5., in Fine Arts 101. Filled with an audience of all different ages, McIntosh and Durkovic began with “Three Browning Songs, Op. 44.” These songs from America’s first women composer, Amy Beach, showcased romance in the best way. “The Year’s at Spring,” “Ah, Love, But a Day!,” and “I Send My Heart up to Thee!” were wistful and beautiful.

Before proceeding to go into “Half Minute Songs” by Carrie Jacobs Bond, McIntosh gave a little history to the composer, which was nice to have. The duo then went into performing, “I Love You Truly,” which seemed like it should have went in the beach set due to it’s romantic flare. Nonetheless, this song was classic and reminiscent of good old fashioned love.

This series of Half Minute Songs were almost written like little life lessons that were sometimes cheeky and sometimes serious. Although MacIntosh has a nitch to deliver the song to it’s best ability which includes her effortless operatic voice and her facial expressions that match the emotion of the song, I felt some of these facial expressions were a bit over the top and too theatrical.

The next set of music was based on the Celtic renaissance poetry of Fiona MacLeod that was converted into music by composer Charles T. Griffes. These songs were quite dark compared to the others. Delivered by McIntosh’s dynamic voice that followed Durkovic’s pounding piano keys, these songs were the most dramatic. McIntosh’s voice has a powerful tone that can cut like a knife or be soft as a whisper. These extremes were showed best in this set.

Following the eight minute intermission, McIntosh and Durkovic played Five Advertising Songs by Nicolas Slonimsky. Songs like “Snowy White” and “Children Cry For Castoria,” were tongue and cheek and also historical because they were products that were popular at that time in history. These jingles were sounded like odd infomercials which gave the audience some comic relief after the sad music that was previously played.

The last set of songs of the night was “Gitanjali (Song Offerings)” by John Alden Carpenter. The six pieces played were pretty soft and more classic opera than any of the others. MacIntosh is able to cleverly draw listeners in with her vocals. “On The Seashore of Endless Worlds” stood out because of it’s delicacy as well as “Light, My Light” that is jubilant and confident.

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