Hyde Park Herald: The soaring power of women musicians

The Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) hosted the Chicago premiere of soprano Melody Moore in the Penthouse of the Logan Center here in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon. The music was glittering and glorious, with Moore creating sumptuous sound and Shannon McGinnis offering able and astute support at the piano.

Moore has sung title and major roles in many leading opera houses, including San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, and Seattle Opera. She came to Chicago with opera’s big sound, but with the focus and intimacy that only a lieder recital can offer. Under the title “Spring Lieder Lounge” Moore dispatched three beautiful sets of music, first in Italian, then in French, and finally in German.

Her recital opened with “Amorosi miei giorni” (“My amorous days”) by Stefano Donaudy. The song, bittersweet and evocative, found Moore lingering lightly and deliciously at the final iteration of the word “speranza” (“hope”). She mingled the darkness of Rspighi’s “Notte” with dramatic shards of light. Puccini’s “Sole e amore” (“Sun and love”) is familiar to opera-goers as having the same melodic theme of the third act quartet in “La boheme” (where the two pairs of lovers separate). The song’s mood is different, drenched in both light and joy, which Moore expressed exquisitely.

The French set was made up of “Proses lyriques” by Debussy. “De Rêve” (“Of Dreams”) displayed Moore’s power and her remarkably earthy and intriguing low register. It ended on a gently-held, luminous high note. “De grêve” (“On the Strand”) was full of unsettling music set to texts such as “the clouds, solemn travelers, band together to make the next storm.” “De fleurs (“Of flowers”) made effective use of the idea of a “glasshouse of sorrow” and Moore brought out the anguish as well as the sly elements. “De soir…” (“Of evening…”) gave Moore a chance to put both her power and her gentleness to the test. The contrasts were expertly evinced.

The final song set was made up of Richard Strauss pieces. “Frülingsfeier” (“Spring Festival”) was muscular with the soprano’s calls to Adonis haunting. “Nichts” (“Nothing”) whisked by rapidly leading to the deeply moving “Befreit” (“Freed”), a song celebrating love even in the death of the one loved. Moore brought me to tears.

Moore and McGinnis concluded the recital with “Vissi d’arte” from “Tosca,” a powerful encore with robust singing and emotional punch.

The already splendid afternoon concluded with a charming wine, cheese, and sweets reception where listeners were able to chat with the performers and the folks who run CAIC. This was my first CAIC event and I look forward to many more in the future. I hope they are able to maintain their Hyde Park presence, because they have so much to offer.

M. L. Rantala, Hyde Park Herald