Victoria de los Angeles
At the Harvard Square Theatre last week.
Hearing Victoria de los Angeles would be an entrancing experience if she sang merely a C-major scale; yet I cannot help feeling that last Wednesday night her vocal gifts were put to the service of a rather stodgy and unimaginative program. This is not the place for a disquisition on the ghastly musical tedium guaranteed by the usual subscription concert (can anyone living in Boston ever want to hear the Symphonie Fantastique again?), but why, Miss de los Angeles, when Schubert wrote over six hundred songs, must we have yet another performance of An die Musik, and why when Ravel's Chansons madecasses lie neglected, must we feel satisfied with his Vocalise and a few marrons glaces by Faure?
Actually, one can cavil only in retrospect at de los Angeles' choice of music, for even an old concert-favorite like Scarlatti's Le Violette pleases us anew when clothed in such velvety beauty of sound as the Spanish soprano produced last Wednesday. Still more noteworthy--because less expected--was the increased command which de los Angeles seems recently to have developed over the realm of German lieder. Her exuberant performance of Schubert's Mein! made me forget for a moment that the songs from Die Schone Mullerin and hardly suited to a woman's voice and manner. Der Tod und das Madchen, on the other hand, conveyed such a deep sense of both the terror and the serenity of death, that it was with a bit of a shock that I recalled de los Angeles' remark to her accompanist Gerald Moore in his book Am I Too Loud? When he arrived backstage, weeping copiously after one of her opera performances, she greeted him with: "Don't worry, my dee-ah boy, I was only pretending to die, you know."
No one, of course, sings Spanish music more beautifully than de los Angeles, and it seems hardly fair to complain that Nin's El pano murciano is not an especially interesting song when she is warbling her way through it. The encores included the inevitable Clavelitos, but some members of the audience were clearly disappointed that de los Angeles chose to omit Adios Granada, a flamenco which she sings to her own guitar accompaniment. They need not have been; it is not every exam period after all, that brings with it a concert by the soprano with the world's loveliest voice.