Soprano Nadine Sierra shows the stuff of great artistry

By David Fleshler

Soprano Nadine Sierra performed a wide-ranging vocal recital Saturday night at Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables.

Nadine Sierra is the complete package. The Fort Lauderdale soprano has the looks, the charisma and most importantly, the voice to become an operatic star.

With her career starting to take off, she gave a recital Saturday at the University of Miami’s Gusman Hall that was a homecoming of sorts. Her parents, who now live in Delray Beach, were seated in the front row. Also in the audience were friends, other family members and Robert Heuer, general director of Florida Grand Opera, all there to hear a young singer who is starting to get noticed in some of the world’s most important opera houses.

Sierra, who won the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2009, will appear next season in San Francisco Opera’s world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, an opera about a hero of the 9/11 attacks.  From the stage Saturday, it was announced that she will make her debut at Milan’s famous opera house La Scala, where she will take the role of Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff.

Her recital, the final season event of the Sunday Afternoons of Music series, showed off a creamy soprano voice — gleaming and weighted, rich and full through its range, used with an agility and theatrical sensibility that brought arias to life on the bare Gusman Hall stage. It takes nothing away from her fine performances of songs by Debussy, Grieg and Rodrigo to say that her strongest singing came in the program’s operatic works, in which she brought to bear her natural sense of drama.

In the aria Ah, je veux vivre! from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, she brought out the joy of a young girl contemplating life, with shining, pitch-perfect high notes, a natural sense of phrasing and runs that came off with accuracy and polish. The closing cadenza was a show-stopper of vocal pyrotechnics, and with due respect to the more venerable sopranos who have taken the role, it would be hard to match the freshness and joy in youth that the 23-year-old Sierra brought to the aria.

In the famous aria Caro Nome from Verdi’s Rigoletto, her coloratura was more than accurate and effortless, it was integrated into the aria as an organic, lyrical part of the whole, rather than a tacked-on display of virtuosity. The aria Ruhe sanft from Mozart’s unfinished opera Zaide, which opened the program, was a model of crisply executed ornamentation and sensitive phrasing, performed with a freedom that brought the notes to life without letting the music lose shape.

Sierra was accompanied ably on the piano by Gordon Roberts, a musician unafraid to put a little personality into his own performance even when the focus was on the singer.

The songs also gained from her sense of drama. In the third of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios, in which the singer interrogates a wayward lover, she first fixed the audience with an accusatory look – drawing laughs – before launching into a playfully venomous account of the work.

Grieg’s Ein Traum, in which a lover’s dream turns into reality, was a joyful rush of sound that overpowered through sheer momentum. Her performance of Debussy’s Quatre Chansons de Jeunesse yielded long, sensuous streams of melody, punctuated by moments of vocal playfulness. Villa-Lobos’ well-known Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 was a luxuriant torrent of steamy Brazilian melody. In that work, she was provided with expert and sensitive accompaniment by Tarra Guerra on the guitar.

Her performance drew repeated standing ovations, yielding two encores, a lovingly performed O mio babbino caro from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and a haunting account of Vilja from Lehar’s Merry Widow.



Posted in Performances

11 Responses to “Soprano Nadine Sierra shows the stuff of great artistry”

  1. Posted Jun 05, 2011 at 5:23 pm by Rob


  2. Posted Jun 05, 2011 at 9:57 pm by gillian grey

    Last night, when I heard Nadine Sierra in concert at Gusman Hall , University of Miami, I felt like I was witnessing History in the making of a great career about to be launched.
    Nadine Sierra is on the verge of becoming an international sensation in all the great opera houses of the world.She has it all, looks, voice, acting and charisma.
    She makes the stories of the art songs come alive, She lives what she sings.
    I heard her when she was ten years old. she was outstanding then but now she has come into her own as a truely great artist with a heavenly voice.
    Nadine, May you continue to thrill audiences
    for years to come.You are one in a million.
    Gillian Grey

  3. Posted Jun 05, 2011 at 10:23 pm by Edmondson John

    My wife and I had held tickets to this anticipated recital for several months and had to relinquish them to friends at the last minute due to illness. Having followed Nadine’s career almost from the beginning, it was a huge disappointment to us. However, there will be other times. My hope is that, considering the rapid rise in her career, we will be still be able to afford them! Congratulations, Nadine!

  4. Posted Jun 06, 2011 at 10:55 am by Deb McLaughlin

    What a wonderful gift to be part of the audience on Saturday evening. I felt so privileged to be wrapped in the beauty of Nadine’s incredible voice, terrific stage presence, and her warmth and love of music, especially opera. Sharing songs of her heritage was very special and intimate – her incredible humming (or whatever the gorgeous sound she made) was uniquely amazing. Gordon was fabulous, as well as the guitarist, both technically and as a team participant. And what a perfect review! We were blessed to be part of a launching pad for Nadine’s steller rise to international stardom!!!! Can’t wait to see and hear her again! SF here I come!
    Deb 🙂

  5. Posted Jun 07, 2011 at 10:35 am by Tarra Guerra

    I have never enjoyed playing with anyone more than with Nadine. Not only does she sing beautifully and with complete focus, uncensored emotion, and ability to be totally present in the music, but she is a lovely person to work with, as nice in person as her stage persona seems.

  6. Posted Jun 10, 2011 at 10:58 am by Bob Heuer

    Nadine is an artist whose career I have followed for several years. Her recital last Saturday was wonderful on every level, and convinced me that we should invite her to sing with Florida Grand Opera. I’m pleased to be able to announce that she will sing Gilda in our January 2012 production of Rigoletto. Rachele Gilmore who was previously scheduled to sing the role has requested a release to sing at La Scala and having granted that release I was happy to be able to have a role to offer to Nadine so quickly. I look forward to sharing this beautiful artist with our South Florida audiences.
    Bob Heuer, General Director
    Florida Grand Opera

  7. Posted Jun 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm by Dave R.

    Good job, Bob. I think she won the Met Auditions about two and a half years ago. Good to see that FGO is right on top of things.

  8. Posted Jun 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm by gillian grey

    Everything is coming together for Nadine . I have waited many years to see the prophetic vision of Nadine’s full blown operatic career manifested.And the time is now to witness it’s perfection. She is the personification of beauty and talent, with a voice that would melt any heart with it’s radiance. The late Fred Silver, friend and coach, would be so proud of her.He was one of the first to spot her talent when she was a little girl.
    I am overjoyed that she has been invited to do the role of GildA for the Florida Grand Opera.Also the role of Nanetta at La Scala.
    This is just the beginning of a great carreer.Fly high, Nadine.
    Much love,

    Gillian Grey

  9. Posted Jun 13, 2011 at 7:47 am by Marilyn Nelson

    Nadine was a winner at the South Florida Natiional Society of Arts and Letters and all members of the chapter and national are following her career with great anticipation of her successful artistic career. A voice to be heard!

  10. Posted Jun 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm by Daniel Leone

    I have also followed this great srtist’s career since her 19th birthday and I am
    absolutely thrilled by what she has accomplished in these last 4 years.
    She has a great voice ,an unbeliebale manner in which she presents her songs and arias.
    She is the character she portrays.
    I look forward to her debut at the Met and
    hope to be there cheering her on.
    Congratulations Nadine and your family with the new offer from FGO to sing Gilda in next season’s Rigoleto.I’ll be there to hear the
    newest Diva of the opera world.
    God Bless You Nadine and

  11. Posted May 11, 2016 at 8:09 am by Mr Gay McLoughlin

    This young talented soprano is going to make it all the way to the top of the opera world.She exudes greatness and is an absolute joy to listen to.

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