Soprano Caballero offers wide-ranging recital at Gusman

By Alan Becker

Elizabeth Caballero performed music from Marcello to Weill Sunday night at Gusman Concert Hall.

Elizabeth Caballero’s appearance on the Sunday Afternoons of Music series drew a large audience, including her parents, as well as the parents of her accompanist Elaine Rinaldi. The University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall was abuzz with a palpable excitement Sunday night.

Next month Florida Grand Opera will feature the Cuban-American soprano in the role of Magda, Puccini’s heroine in his infrequently performed opera La Rondine. The aria Ch’il bel sogno, that appears in the first scene graced her selection of arias in fine fashion. Her powerful voice, with its rapid vibrato, projected into the auditorium like a rapier sword with diction being rendered with great clarity.

Charpentier’s Depuis le jour, from his now almost forgotten opera Louise, effectively pays tribute to the great city of Paris and its effect on the free love between her and Julien. It was emoted to great effect with a true artist’s ability to place herself within the personage of her heroine.

Mozart’s Dove sono from Le Nozze di Figaro included the recitative to give it context, and Sola, perduta, abbandonata (Alone, lost and forsaken) from the tragic last act of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, were both dramatically and vocally effective.

Early Baroque Italian opera was not ignored, as Scarlatti, Stradella, and Marcello each were represented by a dramatic aria. No orchestra or harpsichord was present, yet pianist Rinaldi accompanied with restraint, subtlety, and flair. While never trying to dominate the texture, she proved an equal partner and adapted well to the variety of music.

Undoubted soulmates such as Enrique Granados, and Joaquin Turina, provided much food for thought as their lush Spanish romantic sounds brought out the best from this singer. An aria from Granados’s Goyescas and the tres Majas Dolorosas, with their wide range and powerful emotions, beautifully conveyed the feelings of a woman who has lost her husband. Turina’s song cycle Poema en forma de canciones, probably could have benefited from the presence of an orchestra, but it was most sensitively done, with careful attention to the unique inflections of the Spanish language.

While Caballero has all the qualities of a true opera star, she also has a voice two times too big for the relatively small Gusman auditorium. This was largely tempered with the final grouping of songs by the German-American composer Kurt Weill. Selections from One Touch of Venus, Knickerbocker Holiday, Love Life, and the more operatic Street Scene, came up as fresh as ever, and as melodically enchanting as one could ask for. They were rendered perfectly in style and with voice most expressive. In keeping with the holiday spirit encores inclued Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song and Silent Night.

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Mon Dec 19, 2011
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