Semele • The English Concert • Carnegie Hall • April 14 2019

I just love the English Concert. They always deliver a vigorously stylish performance, with the highest level of concentration and a tight focus, picking excellent singers. But something interesting happened here tonight. The first act was somewhat static. Musically beautiful, but I got a sense that the singers felt a bit uneasy or at least, not quite free. Then, at the very tip of the second act, everything shifted. Irish Soprano Aylish Ayman came in practically flying from the wings, trailing a large map as a prop and adding a good dose of spunk to a show that was endangered of dipping into loftiness. She thus saved the night, lifting the energy in the room and giving everyone license to do the same. Everything came above from then on, making for a riveting night. Brenda Rae, highly pregnant in a body-hugging red dress and radiant, camped it up in just the right way when the music called for it. Elizabeth DeShong is so grounded in her voice, sounding more like an alto than a mezzo. Spunky, at ease, in total control. I jus love seasoned performers who never appear to be “working”. They simply become one with the music and take their rightful place within it. True mastery.