After watching her give a 2001 recital at
Le Théâtre du Châtelet, I was convinced that
mezzo-soprano/soprano Grace Bumbry (1937 – ) still had
a vocal instrument worthy of praise at any age. By the time
of this concert, many of her contemporary colleagues
had retired to their respective vocal studios, whereas
Mme. Bumby’s demonstration of power, flexibility and
considerable range in this program was yet another
indication that her 2009 Kennedy Center Honor was
an overdue accolade.
Accompanied by pianist Helmut Deutsch (1945 – ),
Mme. Bumbry’s 90-minute program included songs by
Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt,
Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss, Hector Berlioz,
and Fernando Obradors, concluding with the “Seguidilla”
from Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” and thereby
showcasing Mme. Bumbry’s skills in German, French
and Spanish. As with the other DVDs in the “Voices of
Our Time” series, the musical selections were interspersed
with interview footage of Mme. Bumbry and
Professor Deutsch. I felt that their insightful comments
enabled me to further appreciate the music. Like other
recitals in the series, this DVD boasts fine sound quality
and camerawork, as well as subtitle options.
The program was billed as “An Homage to Lotte Lehmann,”
and Mme. Bumbry shared her memories of her former teacher.
Along with her notable “Marschallin” from Richard Strauss’
“Die Rosenkavalier” and other operatic roles, Lehmann
(1888-1976) was known as one of the greatest lieder
singers of the 20th Century.
Although I was surprised by how well Mme. Bumbry sounded,
there were times when I wished she could have rendered
her lieder performances more intimately. However, when
I considered the capacity of the Le Théâtre du Châtelet,
it’s possible that her vocal delivery was appropriate. All in all,
this was a fine recital, and Professor Deutsch appeared to
be an ideal partner.