Operatic soprano Leah Crocetto returns for Jackson Hall recital

By From page A7 | December 04, 2013


Leah Crocetto will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Jackson Hall. Courtesy photo

Soprano Leah Crocetto — one of the vocalists in 2011’s “Rising Stars of Opera” concert at the Mondavi Center — returns to Jackson Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in a recital with pianist Mark Markham.

Crocetto and Markham will perform a diverse program with material incorporating texts in several languages. They will open with G.F. Handel’s “Rejoice, rejoice greatly” (drawn from the enormously popular 1742 oratorio “Messiah”), followed by American composer Samuel Barber’s “Three Songs” (“Sleep now, oh sleep now,” “Sure on this Shining Night,” and “Nocturne,” composed in 1940).

There also will be three songs in German dating from the 1800s by the late Romantic composer Richard Strauss (“Die Nacht,” Op. 10 No. 3; “Morgen” Op 27 No. 4; and “Cäcile” Op. 27 No. 2).

And there will be the song “Glück, das mir verbleib” from the 1920 opera “Die tote Stadt” (“The Dead City”) composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold in 1920 (at the age of 23). A few years later, Korngold, who was raised in a Jewish home, fled Europe during the onset of World War II and settled in Hollywood, where he became an accomplished composer of film scores and won an Academy Award for his score for the 1938  Errol Flynn swashbuckler “Robin Hood.” But Korngold remained interested in “serious” music; his Violin Concerto (1945) is still widely performed.

Also on the program will be a newly composed 10-movement piece titled “Eternal Recurrence” by Gregory Peebles (born in Alabama, in 1975). Peebles is now a soprano with Chanticleer; he wrote this piece for Crocetto.

Closing the program are three songs (“Con amores de mi madre,’” “Del Cabello mas sutil,” “Chiquita la novia”) by the early 20th century Catalan composer Fernando Obradors (1897-1945).

Crocetto was the 2010 Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and also the first-place winner, people’s choice and the Spanish prize-winner of the 2009 José Iturbi International Music Competition. She was an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera and has appeared frequently with that company, most recently in the role of Liu in “Turandot.” In 2012, she appeared as Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello” at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, and followed up by touring with that company in Japan.

In October, Crocetto sang in a performance of the Verdi Requiem by the San Francisco Opera. Following her appearance at the Mondavi Center, Crocetto will be off to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., appearing with the National Symphony Orchestra in several performances of the Handel oratorio “Messiah.” In February, she will be in Germany, appearing in an Oper Frankfurt production of Verdi’s “Falstaff.”

Pianist Markham studied at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, and later served for 10 years on the conservatory faculty. He has also been a longtime associate of soprano Jessye Norman, appearing with her in more than 300 performances, including appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Musikverein in Vienna.

Tickets range from $58 general to $17.50 children and are available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787, and at the door.

Jeff Hudson

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