Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shirley Verrett Sings Mozart and Wagner in the same concert

Last Saturday (Nov. 5) marked the one year anniversary of the passing of the American mezzo Shirley Verrett (May 31, 1931 - Nov. 5, 2010)  Verrett made her debut in 1957 in Britten's Rape of Lucretia, and went on to great success as Carmen, Eboli, Didon, Amneris, and many of the great mezzo roles.  By the mid 70s, she made a transition to soprano roles, taking on Lady Macbeth, Tosca, Desdemona, Madame Lidoine, Aida, Leonore (Fidelio) and Norma. She retired in the early 90's and taught voice at the University of Michigan. A woman of great beauty and stage charisma, an evening in the theatre with Shirley Verrett was always an occasion. Whether her transition to soprano was successful is a matter of debate, but whatever she sang, Verrett brought her unique voice and artistry to the music. To remember this great artist, here are two video clips drawn from an Avery Fisher Hall concert in 1977, conducted by Zubin Mehta.  Only a versatile singer like Verrett could have pulled off the feat of singing Mozart's Alleluia (Exsultate Jubilate) - complete with the high C ending - and Wagner's Liebestod on the same evening! 

- Joseph K. So

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