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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

LINDA BUKHOSINI SHINES (article first published : 2000-11-13)

Happiness is many things to different people. To a hall of concert-goers on November 2, not least this writer, it was an evening of unremitting musical rewards in a concert whose title Bella Voce proved far more than just an apt marketing tag to showcase the “Beautiful Voice” of the evening’s soloist. The event itself offered a conclusive opportunity for all to see and hear what a fully fledged singing actress can do with her natural endowments to make the music she performs – and the characters she portrays - come alive onstage.

Magnificently gowned by Amanda Laird Cherry and superbly partnered throughout the evening by conductor David Tidboald and the KZN Philharmonic, Linda Bukhosini unveiled her evening’s gallery of operatic characters with Mozart's Susanna, moonlit, lovelorn and suspended in time. Her delicately poised, exquisitely phrased Deh, Vieni, non tardar from Act IV of The Marriage of Figaro had this immortal heroine fleshed out as potently in a concert extract as she can and should be in the dramatic context of the opera itself.

This extraordinary ability to recreate character in isolation was a hallmark of Bukhosini’s performance throughout the evening. Her silvery, shimmering soprano could hardly have better suited to Rusalka’s haunting Song to the Moon, the pain and steadfast devotion of Puccini’s slave girl Liu could barely have been more sharply etched, nor the vulnerability and tenderness of Bizet’s Leila more gently enacted, more subtly sketched.

The centre-piece of the exhibition was Desdemona’s great Act III scena from Verdi’s Otello, comprising the famous Willow Song and Ave Maria which offer moments of dramatic respite before the girl’s violent death. Here the singer found a fuller tone, more mature, richer in colour and depth, for the deeply troubled right of passage and ultimate catharsis described in this great music. Her pianissimo ascent to the high A flat at the end of the scene drew gasps from the audience and an unwanted burst of applause that sadly shattered the spell of the final orchestral coda.

If Bukhosini’s “signature aria”, the glittering Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust, proved the fitting end to the formal proceedings of the evening, her two encores, Puccini’s ever-loved O mio babbino caro and a Xhosa jazz ballad (accompanied by pianist Melvyn Peters) left her audience replete.

It would be remiss not to mention the orchestral and choral items (sung by the Durban Serenade Choral Society) which framed the portraits to such fine effect: glowing accounts of the Figaro Overture and the Priests’ Chorus from The Magic Flute, an appropriately atmospheric Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly and all-stops-out excursions for the KZNPO in Night on a Bare Mountain and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

As Iris Vaughan once wrote in her diary, “Glory Hallelujah three times over, and Amen twice.” – William Charlton-Perkins




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