In soprano sister act, Nadine Sierra’s artistry rises above the fluff
The concert Sunday at the University of Miami could have been a disaster. Here was Nadine Sierra, the young soprano from Fort Lauderdale who has won acclaim in leading roles at Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Palm Beach Opera, scheduled later this year to sing Mozart arias with the San Francisco Symphony.
And appearing with her in a concert of show tunes and arias was her younger sister Melanie, a student in musical theater at Otterbein University of Ohio. Would the younger girl be blown off the stage by her fast-rising sister’s world-class soprano voice? Would this act of sisterly support end badly?
As it turned out, no. Melanie Sierra has an agile, attractive soprano and shares her sister’s vivacious, charismatic stage presence, qualities she displayed to winning effect in a series of show tunes.
Still, the younger sister’s operatic performances did not play to her strengths. Her singing of Mozart’s Voi che sapete came off as studied and correct, her voice thinning out toward the top. Her youthful voice, tonal warmth and extroverted personality was heard to better advantage in lighter fare like Neil Sedaka’s Where the Boys Are and Jerry Brock’s Vanilla Ice Cream. She made a worthy partner with her sibling in Frederick Loewe’s I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady.
The concert, presented by Sunday Afternoons of Music, was punctuated by would-be-spontaneous sisterly rivalry shtick, as when Melanie referred to Nadine as her “older” sister (Nadine quickly interjected, “taller”). The competitiveness of the pair, whom series executive director Doreen Marx referred to as the “sensational Sierra sisters,” bordered on too cutesy at times, but was done with a light touch and didn’t push it too far.
Nadine Sierra, who was a superb Gilda in FGO’s production of Rigoletto last season, has a radiant voice and a sure sense of theater, seeming to enter into the emotional life of whatever character she is portraying, if only for a single aria.
She brought lustrous, flirtatious tones to Musetta’s Waltz from Puccini’s La Bohème, singing the high notes without the brassiness that creeps into many performances. Her performance of Gershwin’s Summertime was replete with long, languorous phrases. For sheer vocal sensuousness, it would be hard to beat her singing of Charpentier’s Depuis le jour, as she luxuriantly spun out the melody, with vocal control that allowed her to float pianissimo high notes through the hall. She dedicated a performance of Puccini’s O mio babbino caro to the concert’s sponsor, Audre Carlin, giving a vocally rich, sensitively phrased account of the famous aria.
Nadine Sierra also gave a deft and witty performance of Bernstein’s Glitter and Be Gay, dispatching the vocal pyrotechnics of the rapid-fire sections with style. Her performances of popular songs were perfectly presentable, although like a lot of operatic sopranos singing show tunes, she sounded like an operatic soprano singing show tunes.
Pianist Gordon Roberts provided excellent accompaniment throughout the program.
The last scheduled work was the duet For Good from Wicked, a show with some of the most forgettable music of any Broadway hit in recent years. As an encore, resolving the episodes of mock sisterly rivalry, they sang Sondheim’s Together, Wherever We Go from Gypsy.
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Mon Jan 14, 2013
at 1:30 am