Magazine article Opera Canada

Dear Theo

Magazine article Opera Canada

Dear Theo

Article excerpt


Delos: DE 3437

This disc features three song cycles by American- composer Ben Moore, who hails from Syracuse, NY, and also pursues a career as a painter. His works have been performed by a host of high-profile singers, including Susan Graham, Frederica Von Stade, Lawrence Brownlee, Jerry Hadley and Deborah Voigt. This release has three soloists: American tenor Paul Appleby, Alabama-born soprano Susanna Phillips and Canadian baritone Brett Polegato. The accompanist for all singers is Brian Zeger.


The tide collection, featuring Appleby, comprises seven songs on texts from Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother, Theo. This is Romantic, quite conservative music, with no hard edges and only the odd dramatic outburst, somewhat reminiscent of Britten but a little less adventurous. The letters include very touching thoughts on love, Theo's child, the author's struggles with finances and experiences that inspired van Goghs paintings. Appleby excels here with his high, bright tone and appealing sotto voce.

The cycle So Free Ant I takes the form of six settings of poems by women from various time periods: 6th-century Buddhist nuns, 17th-century Anglo-Welsh poet Katherine Philips, 19th-century American poet Amy Lowell and 20th-century British poet Anna Wickham and her American near-contemporary, Muriel Rukeyser. …

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