Opera at Home: A Review of Layla Claire’s Songbird

The 20 track collection is the soprano's solo recording debut featuring accompaniment from pianist Marie-Ève Scarfone.

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Songbird; Layla Claire (soprano)/Marie-Ève Scarfone (piano); Atma: ACD2 2754

Lyric soprano Layla Claire, who hails from Penticton, B.C., was a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist program and made her debut on that storied stage as Tebaldo in Don Carlos in 2010. Since then, her career has advanced quickly,with appearances at the Washington National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Canadian Opera Company (as Fiordiligi in the 2014 Così fan tutte), Opernhaus Zürich, as well as the Salzburg, Glyndebourne, Grant Park and Aix-en-provence Festivals. Her Salzburg debut in 2016, as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, was greeted with wildly enthusiastic reviews.

On the concert stage, she has made appearances with the Boston, Montreal and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, and the New York and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. She has sung under a host of esteemed conductors, including Nézet-Séguin, Levine, Haitink, Tilson Thomas, Nagano and Christie. This CD marks her solo recording debut.

Together with piano accompanist Marie-Ève Scarfone (who, like Claire, studied at L’Université de Montréal), she serves up a varied program of 20 tracks, ranging from Purcell to Wolf transversing Gounod, Debussy, Strauss, Brahms, Barber and Dominick Argento along the way. Many of the offerings are extremely short (seven are under two minutes), but all are sufficient to display her bright, uncluttered tone and impeccable enunciation.

 

Gounod’s “Viens! Les gazons sont verts” (Come! The lawns are green!”) exudes charm and elegance; Wolf’s “O wär dein Haus” (Oh, were your house transparent as glass” from the Italienisches Liederbuch) is almost frantic in mood and pace, but beautifully controlled; and Strauss’s “Epheu” (“Ivy”) with its demanding range and wandering melody, is expressively sung. Other highlights include Liszt’s “Der Fischerknabe” (“The Fisher Lad,” a real gem); Gounod’s charming, waltz-like “Serenade” and Barber’s “St. Ita’s Vision” (where Claire shows off her impressive range).


Layla Claire performing “Epheu” in 2015. Video from RBEstudosSA via YouTube.

The CD booklet includes the texts in their original languages, but no translations.

-Rick MacMillan

Atma: ACD2 2754


This review is from Opera Canada Vol. LVIII, No. 1

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