Kate Lindsey is one of those singers who immediately attracts your attention; when I heard her as Tebaldo in DON CARLO at the Met earlier this season she made a distinct impression vocally and dramatically. In a way it was sort of like a SALOME I attended at NYC Opera in the mid-1970s when an unknown basso singing one of the Nazarenes made me think, 'This guy has IT'. That was Samuel Ramey.
Tonight at the Goethe Institute, Kate gave a recital with pianist Vlad Iftinca that went beyond confirming my earlier impression; both vocally and in her presentation she showed herself already - at a very young age - fully capable of holding an audience in the palm of her hand. The voice is clear, with a warm core and an easy, expansive range. She can go low with a fully-feminine intimacy and she can go high like a fledgling soprano while the middle remains round and poised. This even tonal quality allows her to do just about anything she wants vocally, seemingly without effort. Beyond that, there is beauty of expression in the lyrical passages and an unexpected intensity which make her quite fascinating to listen to.
If that were not enough, she is also a very attractive girl with a perfect figure and an easy, graceful and unaffected manner. She has a strong sense of the drama & theatricality of what she is singing, and her face is so expressive that you cannot take your eyes off her.
Mr. Iftinca walked to the piano and began playing the opening bars of the gorgeous Berlioz cycle LES NUITS D'ETE and Kate strolled down the aisle in a breath-of-spring white and green frock holding a single white rose as she sang the opening 'Villanelle'. In 'Spectre de la Rose' she sang in a tender reverie, followed by the despair of 'Sur les lagunes' and the longing of 'Absence' beautifully rendered in voice and poetry. 'Au cimitiere' was almost stark in its feeling of loss. Then, shaking off the darkness, Kate brought the cycle to a close with the ironic, seductive 'L'Isle Inconnue'. Mr. Iftinca's playing was luxuriant.
The Berlioz cycle is so engrossing and was presented with such beauty that part of me wanted to just get up and go home, taking it with me. But Kate and Vlad had Nin and Schoenberg to offer and they maintained the high level. Earthy and vibrant in the Spanish songs, Kate's warmth of tone and Vlad's colorful playing pleased the audience greatly. Reappearing in a sexy black gown, Kate launched Schoenberg's Brettl-Lieder in sexy cabaret style, using the voice as as an expressive force and Mr. Iftinca as an accomplice. This set was by turns lusty, subtle and grandly theatrical, full of innuendo. Kate's singing was ripe and seductive as she gave each vignette the 'treatment'.
The room sometimes seemed too small to contain the music and the emotions. This was more than a promising recital by a young singer; it was a promise that is already fulfilling itself. Cheers for this wonderful mezzo and her superb pianist as they were called back twice. Kate's announced Cherubino at the Met next season is at the top of my list of operatic imperatives.
After the recital I walked back to the West Side thru Central Park; you'd think after all these years that I'd be jaded by the City but looking south to the bejeweled skyline gave me a rush.