From the moment that Ayşe Goknur Shanal entered the Utzon Room at Sydney Opera House we were transported through song from a sparkling autumnal Sydney Harbour, to the shores of Italy, Spain, Argentina and France. Les Chemins de l’Amour brought us a refreshing repertoire from the South American and French classical traditions, full of tales of love and longing.
Ayşe Goknur Shanal’s singing career took off when she was young, winning the Dame Joan Sutherland Scholarship, studying at the Royal College of Music and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She met the accompanist Andrea Katz while participating in opera competitions, and the two instantly found an artistic synergy. It was this sensitive and lyrical relationship that the audience felt acutely especially, when Ayse sat down next to Andrea to sing at the piano.
Shanal’s dramatic interpretation of Reynaldo Hahn’s Venezia was immensely appealing. This piece had its premiere in a gondola with the composer playing the piano along the canals. Shanal’s confidence with the deeper tones shone through, as she sang Poema en forma de canciones op 19 by Joaquín Turina, the mellifluous colour of her rich soprano clear and effortless.
We were treated to a more expressive and spirited second half celebrating the trials and joys of love. Shanal’s vocal expression was showcased brilliantly as we dived into the most famous of Argentina’s classical composers, with pieces by Ginastera, Guastavino, Piazzolla and Lopez-Buchardo. I’m sure that the Argentinian Consulate General, also present, appreciated this segment.
Argentinian-born pianist Andrea Katz had introduced Shanal to Brazilian composers early on in her career, and she played the Lopez-Buchardo with brilliance and intensity. A prolific recital pianist and the founder and Artistic Director of Songmakers Australia, it is no wonder that Katz is in demand with prominent Australian and international singers. She effortlessly moved between the fast paced time signatures of the South American cancion (song) to the ethereal tempi of the French Impressionist composers with flawless technique and passion.
The French Impressionist segment was my personal favourite, the music painting the colours of Debussy, Delibes and Poulenc lulling the audience into a mosaic of sound. It was as if Monet had come to life in the Utzon Room.
What will be next for the magnetic Ayşe Goknur Shanal? Watch this space.
Les Chemins De l’Amour (Ayşe Goknur Shanal, soprano and Andrea Katz, piano) | Thursday May 11 2017 | Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House
Tour to Wollongong, The Church on the Mall, and Orange Regional Conservatorium.