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Wednesday, February 12, 2020


(Lindsay Thomson & Dr Lisa Engelbrecht)

Thomson revealed how carefully she sculpts her sound. Notable was her impressive vocal ornamentation and careful attention to articulation, neatness and overall technical excellence. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)

The second Friends of Music concert of 2020, which took place on Tuesday February 11, 2020, provided a nice contrast to the opening concert a few weeks ago. This concert was a celebration of operatic gems. It featured The Opera Angels, which is an acclaimed collaboration between two stars in the opera world, Dr Lisa Engelbrecht (pianist, soprano and vocal coach at the University of Cape Town’s Opera School) and Lindsay Thomson (mezzo soprano), a rising star in the opera world. It could be described as a collaboration between “mature fortitude” and “malleable” young talent.

The concert featured a pleasing balance between the better-known numbers and the more cultivated works. This showcased the full range of the duo’s talents and demonstrated their flexibility. Engelbrecht actually sang from the piano while accompanying Thomson, which was an impressive feat. They performed Song to the Moon from Rusalka by A Dvorak; Folk Song Medley (Danny Boy / Amazing Grace / Irish Blessing); Sul aria and Via resti servita, duets from Le Nozze di Figaro by W A Mozart; Una voce poco fa from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, aria Rosina, by G Rossini; Che il bel sogno, aria La Rondine, by G Puccini; O mio babbino from Gianni Schicchi by G Puccini; Pie Jesù, duet by A Lloyd Webber; Mattinata by A Tosti; Ideale by A Tosti; O sole mio by E di Capua; Noble seigneur salut! from Les Hugenots by G Meyerbeer; Seguidilla from Carmen by G Bizet; Flower Duet by Lakmé; Mon Coeur s’ouvre a ta voix from Samson et Dalilah by C Saint Saens; Belle nuit, duet from the Tales of Hofmann by J Offenbach; I could have danced all night from My Fair Lady by Rodgers & Hammerstein; Vilja from The Merry Widow by F Lehar; I feel pretty from West Side Story by L Bernstein; Climb every mountain from The Sound of Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein; Ave verum by Carl Jenkins; an item from Little Women and Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. 

In the opening item, the Dvorak, we sensed that Thomson had a carefully cultivated sound with good intonation. Engelbrecht matched her well in terms of volume.

In Danny Boy from the Medley, it was clear that Thomson was better suited to this idiom with her clearly enunciated words and unforced sound production. Throughout, Thomson’s voice had a sharper timbre while that of Engelbrecht’s was mellower. The two balanced each other out well. Also, Engelbrecht lent considerable strength to Thomson’s voice and it created a successful ensemble.  In Amazing Grace, the volume grew, creating an impressive sound with considerable resonance. Thomson provided a pleasing descant line. Once again, Engelbrecht revealed her fortitude in the long notes.

In the Sul aria from Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart, Thomson revealed her full potential. There was a nice form of banter between the parts and Thomson displayed her understanding of the humour inherent in this interchange.

With the Rossini, one felt that this was Thomson’s idiom. She managed all the intricacies and the very difficult scalar runs along with impressive cadenza-like passages and succeeded in making it look easy.

In the Webber, Thomson displayed a neatly cultivated sound. This was her best number. One sensed the purity of her sound quality on the higher notes. Again, this was nicely balanced by the mellowness of Engelbrecht’s voice.

In the O sole mio by Capua, Thomson again revealed how carefully she sculpts her sound. Notable was her impressive vocal ornamentation and her keen sense of the Italian idiom. Once again, it was clear that she has a very powerful voice. In the Meyerbeer, Thomson displayed a shrill brilliance and a pure intonation. She revealed a good understanding of the words as evidenced in her facial expression and bodily antics. She displayed careful attention to articulation, good trills, and overall technical excellence, especially in the descending scale passages.

In the Bizet, Thomson employed good slurring, as was characteristic of her neatness and attention to articulatory matters. In the Flower Duet by Lakmé, she managed the intricacies of the quick notes well. She also succeeded in bringing across the underlying sentiment convincingly.

In I feel pretty by Bernstein, the duo produced impressive vocal chords and there was clear, tight timing.

In the Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Thomson revealed her true personality. – Dr Martin Goldstein

Friends of Music concerts take place at 19h30 at the Durban Jewish Centre, 44 Old Fort Road (K E Masinga Road), Durban. There is safe parking. For more information contact Keith on 071 505 1021 or visit