Rising mezzo Kate Lindsey shows first-class artistry

By Lawrence A. Johnson


Due to scheduling snafus at Gusman Concert Hall, Friends of Chamber Music has been forced to present two of this season’s events at Wertheim Performing Arts Center, the acoustically superb, but geographically inconvenient venue on Florida International University’s main campus.

That switch clearly affected attendance with only a sparse crowd turning out for Kate Lindsey’s recital Wednesday night in west Miami.  That’s unfortunate, because, the American mezzo-soprano showed herself a supremely gifted and communicative artist in a wide-ranging program of Italian, French and German songs with pianist Ken Noda.

The Richmond,Virgina native is a former Lindemann Young Artist at the Metropolitan Opera. While she’s only sung small roles to date, she is clearly destined for a successful career. Tall and energetic, Lindsey was born to play Cherubino, and in many ways resembles Frederica von Stade a celebrated exponent of that role,  both in her charismatic stage presence and her high, flexible instrument.

Lindsay possesses a voce of great clarity and evenness throughout its range. Yet what makes her such a compelling recitalist is her vibrancy and interpretive focus. Lindsey is performing this program at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in April but there was no feeling of out-of-town  public rehearsal, such was the singer’s total commitment to each setting. With artistry on this level, it’s too bad that texts were not provided or even a single short bio about the singer.

Her opening Rossini set offered a fine sampler of Lindsey’s vivacious style with a detailed and exuberant rendering of the mini-cycle La regata veneziana that went beyond many singers’ canzone warm-up exercise.

Based on Paul Verlaine’s poetry, Debussy’s Fetes Galantes II offers three of the French composer’s subtlest and most haunting songs. Against Wertheim’s oddly apt ambient sound of whistling wind, Lindsey conveyed the spare delicacy of Les ingénues, as surely as the exotic languor of Le faune. She varied her tone and coloring skillfully in a touching rendering of the spare, otherworldly  melancholy of Colloque sentimental, aided by beautifully textured playing by Noda.

   Her generous Brahms set was equally engaged, Lindsey rendering Wir wandelten with a simple heartfelt quality, the rush of excitement in Von waldbekranzte Hohe, the romantic reflection of Immer Leiser and winsome charm-not a trait we associate with Brahms—in the concluding Jucche!

Two Berlioz settings were among the highlights, with Lindsey handling the climactic flourish of Zaide securely, her top notes full and precise.  La mort  d’Ophelie  provided the highlight of the evening. Lindsey sang Berlioz’s deeply personal setting, with touching simplicity and refined tenderness, the long setting unfolding in a single seamless arc, with spacious supportive piano playing by Noda.

Arnold Schoenberg’s Weimar-era Cabaret Songs are not ready for prime time even today with their salacious texts. With faultless German, vocal gleam and vivid facial expressions, Lindsey made the import of the German words almost discernible from drunken reverie to witty cynicism and unsated longing.

The charismatic Kate Lindsey is clearly a rising star with a great future, and the Met’s Noda gave his colleague keyboard support on the same high level.

Posted in Performances

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Thu Jan 15, 2009
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