Sunday, April 10, 2016

Soirée Lyrique's Stimulating "Viennese Concert"

Vienna is one of the world's great cities, famous not only for its musical legacy, but also for its great thinkers and classic cuisine. Imagine a Sunday afternoon of comic and lyrical songs and waltzes from this great tradition ... now imagine it performed mit höchste künstlerische Qualität in downtown Elgin.

The lovely atmosphere and excellent acoustics of First Congregational Church provided the setting for "A Viennese Concert," presented by Soirée Lyrique NFP, the premiere local arts group devoted to classical vocal performance.

This 90-minute program featured works by Strauss, Mozart, Korngold and Léhar in a variety of periods and styles, performed by a stellar group of soloists, accompanied by pianist Dr. Chiayi Lee and a string quartet from Chamber Music on the Fox.

If you think you have no appetite for opera, one taste of music by soprano Solange Sior, founder and Artistic Director of Soirée Lyrique, will awaken your cravings for more. In solos from Giuditta and Die tote Stadt, her voice was like apricot pastry, both sweet and tart, and so rich it leaves an impression on your conscience as well as your memory.

The cinnamon and vanilla tones of soprano Genevieve Thiers were the coffee of a Viennese dessert: simultaneously light and dark; part vision, taste and temptation. And like the finest torte, the sublety of her execution in solos from The Merry Widow and Die Fledermaus belied the depth of talent and craft in their preparation.

No Viennese coffeehouse would be complete without the aroma of smoking pipes and the glow of gas lights. Nicholas Provenzale's smooth, smoky baritone filled the room with just the right flavor of Italian briar in songs from Die Zauberflöte and The Desert Song, and the white dinner jacket of Simon Kyung Lee reflected the warmth and radiance of his solos "Dein is mein ganzes Hertz" and "Vienna, City of my Dreams."

With characteristically relaxed elegance, the string quartet anchored by cellist Sara Sitzer, founding Co-Aristic Director of Chamber Music on the Fox, reminded us how fortunate we are in Elgin to have the resources of Chicago's world-class music community right in our backyard — and in many cases, literally just down the street.

The changing repertoire and amazing artistic lineup of Soirée Lyrique is exceeded only by the friendly ease and accessibility of its concerts, staged in familiar venues in and around Elgin. Visit for details on its upcoming June event.

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