Soprano Michelle Bradley shows she is a rising star
A recital by a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program has become an annual staple of the Friends of Chamber Music concert series. Saturday night, American soprano Michelle Bradley, who makes her Met mainstage debut later this season, sang for a small but appreciative audience Saturday night at Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables.
The Gusman is not an intimate setting with its wide, deep stage, high ceilings and large seating area, but Bradley’s voice filled it easily, seemingly effortlessly. From the moment Bradley rang out the opening notes of Mozart’s “Porgi Amor” from Le Nozze di Figaro, it was clear that the audience would be in for an exciting evening.
But although Bradley’s gleaming highs are impressive, her timbre is most satisfying in the middle and lower ranges. The middle is opulent. Her lows blossom bold and voluptuous, not necessarily dark but rich and full of character. She flows easily from one register to the next, her lines smooth without any indication of breathlessness. Although vocal subtlety and phrasing are not yet her strongest assets, there’s certainly much to her voice to make one want to hear more. Her ample instrument seems made for large opera houses.
Bradley was accompanied by Ken Noda, long-time assistant to James Levine at the Met and a regular at these Miami events. Noda is an ideal pianist for a young singer, supportive without being obtrusive. His innate musicality and lyricism were most apparent in Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, which ended the first half of the program. While Bradley’s muscular, full-bodied take on these ethereal songs might not be for everyone, Noda’s tonal beauty and restraint, especially in the final notes of “Im Abendrot,”put the listener in mind of Strauss’s graceful acceptance of his final days. Bradley was singing Four Last Songs in public for the first time.
Bradley provided much to admire in the second half of the program: her seamless legato in Gabriel Faure’s “Notre Amour”; her attentive phrasing in Francois Poulenc’s torch song “Les Chemins d’Amour” and Puccini’s “Che il bel sogno di Doretta” from La Rondine; her ability to float the high notes in Gustave Charpentier’s “Depuis le jour” from the opera Louise; and a sassy flair for the theatrical in “Bolero” from Verdi’s I Vespri Sciliani.
In “D’amor sull’ali rosee,” Leonora’s aria to her jailed lover, Manrico, from Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Bradley showed off her full range, from rich, luxurious lows to piercing highs, her dramatic outbursts appropriate for the music. Bradley shaped her voice to bring out the emotional heft of the scene in what was the highlight of the program. If there was one overall takeaway from the evening, it was that Bradley is a Verdian dramatic soprano in the making.
Bradley concluded with a set of spirituals that were clearly in her wheelhouse and in her heart: an a capella version of “This Little Light of Mine” followed by “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands,” in which Bradley again displayed her lush lower register. Bradley sat down at the piano to accompany herself on her own composition, “Trust.” She ended with an appeal for post-Election Day unity and an appropriately resonant, a capella “America, The Beautiful.”
The Friends of Chamber Music season continues with the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio January 5 at Gusman Concert Hall. miamichambermusic.org.
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Sun Nov 6, 2016
at 12:09 pm