In review: Sondra Radvanovsky's stunning London recital debut Photo by Andrew Eccles.

In review: Sondra Radvanovsky's stunning London recital debut

Jenna Simeonov

Sondra Radvanovsky’s London recital debut was one of those occasions where four encores seem the obvious result. With pianist Anthony Manoli, Radvanovsky sang for the Rosenblatt Recitals series at Cadogan Hall; she brought us everything Bellini to Barber, plus two great gowns.

Her voice, like a favourite book or a favourite restaurant, seems to give unfailing pleasure each time we revisit it. Radvanovsky does that thing, where she never gives up on a note, transforming it into a million colours. She seems, if for a brief moment, to sing right to you.

She chose three Bellini songs to pay homage to her famed bel canto work, and sang selections of Barber’s Hermit Songs in a nod to the great Leontyne Price. She even offered up some Liszt songs, a novelty in Radvanovsky’s repertoire, both with the French language and with the moments of trouser-role fun. Though she alluded to her Strauss selections’ being new and experimental for her, we remember hearing her sing them in her Toronto recital of 2015; it’s an unimportant detail, considering what she did to us during “Befreit”. Manoli showed off a lovely warmth in the Strauss songs, playing with a sunny sound and plenty of abandon in the likes of “Heimliche Aufforderung”.

After hinting at possible German operatic roles in her future, and giving us a taste of her debut as Andrea Chénier in Barcelona next season with her finale, “La mamma morta”, Radvanovsky returned for what became a full set of encores. In order: Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka, “I could have danced all night” from My Fair Lady, “Io son l’umile ancella” from Adriana Lecouvreur, and “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca. Not bad picks, and the audience went mental. Manoli deserves an enthusiastic nod for the fun and serious chops he showed in the My Fair Lady.

Looking around the crowd in Cadogan Hall, we’ve never seen so many people wiping their eyes or stifling sniffles. Radvanovsky pairs truly excellent singing with her whole heart and soul; she’s honest and candid with her audiences, and with that bridge of personal connection come all the listeners’ waterworks.

Next up in the Rosenblatt Recitals series is tenor Ivan Magrì and pianist Iain Burnside, April 3, 7:30pm at Wigmore Hall. For details and ticket information, click here.

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