This recital featured the singer Emilie Lemasson and Resonance founder and organiser Chris Cartner on piano.
Cartner studied at Trinity College of Music in London and the Amsterdam Conservatoire. He currently works as Assistant Chorus Master and principal pianist at Sydney Philharmonia.
I had never heard Emilie Lemasson before, so I was looking forward to this concert. She was born in France, but she completed her tertiary studies at the Opera School of the Sydney Con studying with Andrew Dalton, Sharolyn Kimmorley and Anthea Moller.
The printed program showed the repertoire to be Romantic arias (Bizet, Puccini, Verdi & Dvořák) and Twentieth century songs from musicals (Gershwin, Bernstein & Sondheim) with a Piaf song and two piano pieces (Chopin & Debussy). Mostly well known.
Lemasson opened with a mezzo aria, the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen. Her tone was warm but she used breathy voice to sexy effect. However, her enthusiastic performance was more charming than sultry.
Her performance of Puccini’s Mi chiamono Mimì from La Bohème showed her to be a lyric soprano rather than a mezzo. She produced well supported, vibrant and exciting sound. Although not always coy for the shy Mimì, she managed the delicate toned sections with great control.
The aria Ernani, Ernani involami, is from Verdi’s Ernani, an opera which is not often heard in Australia. Lemasson showed a good strong dark chest register in the opening recitative. The aria ranged across gentle ecstasy, again well controlled pianissimi, difficult roulades and a grand finish.
Cartner played the introduction and accompaniment to Dvořák’s famous aria Song to the Moon (Rusalka) beautifully. The effect was resonant, sympathetic and gentle. The water sprite pleads to the moon not to leave, so her prince can find her. Lemasson bravely sang in Czech, which always impresses me, and it was all lyrically done, including some difficult phrases with large leaps. It was sung with humility and yearning; beautiful really.
The first piano interlude was Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu and I “dips me lid” to anyone who can toss this off. It is always impressive.
Still in Paris, we were back to Cafe Momus for Quando m’en vo (again La Bohème). The coquettish Musetta this time, was performed with sumptuous charm, again showing Lemasson comfortable in the mezzo range.
The remainder of the program, Gershwin’s Someone to watch over me (Oh, Kay!), Bernstein’s I Feel Pretty (West Side Story), Piaf’s La Vie en Rose and Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music) were all well sustained for musical theatre songs, in the way that a solid classical training affords. Satisfying well controlled soft passages were contrasted with big voiced climaxes, full of vibrance.
While beautifully sung, I think I would have finished the concert with something other than Send in the Clowns. With so much exciting and spectacular music on the program, the concert could have finished on a more exciting note. Switching it with La Vie en Rose would have made for a better finish.
I was very impressed with Emilie Lemasson’s voice and performance. The concert overall was excellent and it will be good to hear more of her in future. I am sure we will.