A singer grows up
There has been a switch at the Canadian Opera Company, and the star of the upcoming opera "Carmen" is now the Israeli mezzo soprano Rinat Shaham (pictured at left, in the middle). The singer previously scheduled, American mezzo Beth Clayton, had to withdraw for health reasons.
Buffalo knows Rinat Shaham. She gave an enchanting recital on the Ramsi P. Tick Memorial Concert Series in 2004. Though she was the "up-and-comer" on that year's series, she left a vivid impression. She accompanied herself in a campy rendition of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," and she also did a few songs from "Carmen," including the "Habanera."
At the time, I remember writing in the paper my honest opinion, which was that her "Carmen" numbers were more sweet than smoldering. Perhaps it was the setting, which was Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Perhaps Shaham had growing up to do. In any case, she went on to do something right, because five years later, she has made the role her own. She has played Carmen at the Opera de Montreal, Minnesota Opera, the New York City Opera and other venues.
"The new Carmen at Glyndebourne, Rinat Shaham, is a sensation. From the moment she slinks downstage, douses her head in the water barrel, and tosses it back in a spray of defiance, she has taken possession of the stage and everyone on it." That comes from a British review.
Wow! Maybe Shaham took The Buffalo News' critique to heart! Here she is in 2006, singing the Seguidilla -- the song that prompts Don Jose to untie her hands. I would say she has a handle on the role!
One of the pleasures of concertgoing is to be able to catch an artist before that artist makes it big. Shaham seems to be on her way to the top.
Catch Rinat Shaham starring in "Carmen" in Toronto on Jan. 27 and 30 and Feb. 2, 5, 7 and 9. For information, call 416-363-8231.
-- Mary Kunz Goldman