The Delaware Valley Opera kicked off their spring season of concerts with Melanie Henley Heyn on Saturday and what a treat it was to spend the night listening to her gorgeous voice. Heyn is a DVO …
The Delaware Valley Opera kicked off their spring season of concerts with Melanie Henley Heyn on Saturday and what a treat it was to spend the night listening to her gorgeous voice. Heyn is a DVO family artist and she shared her stories of starting her career with the DVO which showed how much she truly loves the organization and how much of an impact the DVO has made over the past 36 years.
Heyn’s “Opera 101 or Opera in a Nutshell” was a tour de force taking us on a trip through eight languages and a wide variety of arias and lieder, short classical songs, that really showcased not only her stupendous range but her ability to inhabit each song’s character. I’m always amazed when I can watch a musician physically inhabit the song they’re singing or performing. You’re eyes trick you and for the time you just see the character and their anguish or joy or anger and Heyn was mesmerizing especially in her performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Ach, istomilas ja gorem” (Ack, I’m so exhausted).
Heyn guided attendees through the centuries with her wonderful and comedic recap of opera’s history which had the audience in stitches. If you never thought someone would refer to composers as dudes who were trying to outdo each other, I recommend you see Heyn sometime. Who says opera can’t be funny?
It’s hard to pick just one highlight of the night. I took notes on each song to point out Heyn’s spectacular ranger the strength and power of her voice, the movement you could hear in each note, but there were three songs that really made me stop in my tracks.
Heyn’s performance of Wagner’s “Allmächti’ge Jungfrau” (All-powerful Virgin) was the showstopper of the first half of her performance with a sustained high note that took my breath away. The power and control she exhibited just awed me.
Heyn started the second half of her concert with “Ave Maria” by Schubert, but the treat was that she sang it first in German and then in Latin. While I have always loved “Ave Maria” I had never heard it sung in German before and it was, in my opinion, lovelier than I ever heard it before.
Heyn’s final performance of the night was a hauntingly beautiful Ukrainian song “Chuyesh, brate mih” (Listen, my brother) by Bohdan Lepky. Accompanying herself on piano and singing part of the song acapella, Heyn delivered a poignant and moving song written over a hundred years ago about the loss of one’s homeland and it was a reminder that while we got to enjoy her beautiful voice all night long, there are people across the globe faced with the same prospect of losing their native land.
I always have to include a quick shout out to the accompanist whose partnership really makes the night of music special. Martin Néron was fantastic making the piano sound like an orchestral accompaniment when Heyn needed it to and even treated the audience to a performance of Modesta Bor’s “Juangriego”. The trickling of the piano keys made you think of water and you could close your eyes and picture yourself walking somewhere heaven like.
I’m so bummed I won’t be able to attend this week’s concert on May 7th with Tshombe Selby but I highly urge everyone to attend and help the Delaware Valley Opera start the season off strong. I loved Shelby in their “Liars! Lovers! And Libertines!” concert last summer, and I’m sure he will wow again with his rich voice and range.
For more information on the Spring concert series or to purchase tickets please visit www.delawarevalleyopera.com.
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