Michael Daniel Fine Arts Critique #2, Feminine Voices 11-2-2006 On October 26 the College of Fine Arts, Department of Music

presented Feminine Voices. It was an Opera recital by Dr. Mary Logan Hastings. Mary McClain was the guest vocalist and Jan Halmes played the piano. There was a small chamber band consisting of an English horn, a harpsichord, a cello and a flute. I believe that the songs were sung in German, Italian and French. I am not bilingual so I couldn’t understand the lyrics by hearing them. I tried to follow along with the lyrics on the program but I still had problems trying to hear where the vocalist was on the lyrics sheet so that was of limited use. I will comment on the audio qualities of the music that I do understand to the best of my abilities. The opening piece was ‘La Canzone di Doretta’. It was sung by Dr. Hastings. It was a song about a love poem recited to a courtier in Paris. Dr. Hastings demonstrated a loud vibrato ‘belt’ with very high notes. ‘Belt’ is a term used in musical theater for a loud part of a song. It’s a loud, punctuating crescendo in a song. The tone of the piano was soft and it’s tempo was slow. The vocal component seemed to move in cycles. It started out soft and built volume until Dr. Hastings belted a few vibrato notes then the volume slowly fell only to rise again. The second song was Le Spectre de la Rose. It was sung by the guest vocalist Mary McClain. I liked McClain better than Dr. Hastings. McClain had better enunciation and more expressiveness than Dr. Hastings. Her belt notes weren’t quite as strong as Dr. Hastings but her high notes weren’t as high either so the effect of the belt was more pleasant. The song sounded sad. The tone was low and the tempo was slow

although it did have a few belt notes. The lyrics on the program are abstract to the point that I don’t understand what the song is about. Maybe the interpretation needs work. The third song was L’lle inconnue, which translates to ‘The unkown island’. It was sung by Dr. Hastings. It is a song sung to a person referred to only as the ‘young beautiful one’. It is asking the young beautiful one where they want to sail. It describes an idyllic ship that they are on and it speaks of possibilities for where they can go. This song was more upbeat. The tempo was fast, the tone was strong. It conveyed a sense of determination. It ended with a string of belt notes. The performance continued with Zerfliesse, mein herze. Dr. Hastings sung again and the chamber band accompanied this song. It was about mourning Jesus. The band played a slow, low pitch, meandering melody while Dr. Hastings belted out ear-piercing high belt notes. During intermission I was able to speak with the Jan Halmes out back. Ms. Halmes was the pianist. I learned that Ms. Halmes, Ms. McClain and Dr. Hastings were all old friends from college in Colorado. They hadn’t all been together or performed together for years. We went back in and the show continued and ended. For an encore Ms. McClain and Dr. Hastings sang ‘a Fortunae’ together. I think it was ‘a Fortunae’. I could be wrong as the name wasn’t on the program. I recognized the song from a Volvo commercial. Until ‘a Fortunae’ I found Dr. Hastings shrill and annoying. When she sang with Ms. McClain I found a deeper appreciation for Dr. Hastings’s voice. Dr. Hastings sounds much less shrill and annoying when heard in duet with a deeper voice. When the two old friends sang together you could really see the affection on their faces. The encore was the best part of the night.