Opera star brings powerful voice to Weill Hall

  • In this October 21, 2011 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera Jay Hunter Morris perform in the title title roll of Wagner's "Siegfried," with Deborah Voigt as Brünnehilde during a rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard)

Fresh from her role as Marie in Alban Berg's disturbing "Wozzeck" at New York's Metropolitan Opera, soprano Deborah Voigt will swing by Weill Hall this Sunday as part of a four-city spring recital tour.

Accompanied by pianist Brian Zeger, Voigt will present a balanced program of American and European songs by composers Amy Beach, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Ben Moore, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky.

The recital tour, which also makes stops at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall and Boston's Symphony Hall, gives the dramatic soprano a welcome break from the opera stage, where she often plays tragic, long-suffering women.

"It gives me a chance to show a side of my personality that doesn't come out when I'm singing all these very serious heroines," the singer told the South Florida Classical Review.

The recital is expected to be one of the highlights of Sonoma State University's Mastercard Performance Series, which kicked off last September with a show by another beloved American soprano, Renee Fleming.

As a dramatic soprano, Voigt boasts a powerful, rich voice that can soar over a full orchestra, making her ideal for the iconic roles of German opera, from Richard Strauss' Ariadne to Richard Wagner's Isolde.

It's been an interesting journey for the 53-year-old Voigt, who grew up outside Chicago and started singing in church when she was 5.

Moving to Southern California for high school, she starred in musicals such as "The Music Man" and won a vocal scholarship, enrolling in the voice program at CSU Fullerton.

In the 1980s, she was named an Adler Fellow in the San Francisco Opera's Merolo Program, where she learned the ropes of her profession.

In 1991, she made her big breakthrough with the Boston Lyric Opera as Ariadne in Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos." At that time, New York Times critic John Rockwell predicted that only a wrong career turn could stop her from becoming a significant Wagnerian soprano.

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