The Wagner Society Honors
East 87th Street - New York City
May 11, 2001
The event, sponsored by the Wagner Society, was held at the Liederkranz Foundation Hall on East 87 Street. The day was a little warm but the room was comfortably air-conditioned. While purchasing a ticket, I ran into Charlie Handelman and Seth Lubin. We were early, so Seth and I went out for a quick meal and talk.
Ms Amara, accompanied beautifully by Tom Bagwell, showed the captive audience that she has her technique and power to this day. From her first outpouring of Wagner's "Schmerzen" to her last number "Wien, du stadt meiner Träume" she encompassed every vocal trait with clarity: pitch, phrasing, diction (one could take dictation), ff to pp from the bottom to the top of her range. All there. In spite of the fact that her Lohengrin choice did not go as well as the rest of the program, all of her glorious singing overshadowed this one aspect. I also sensed her dutiful devotion to her art when, sensing she might be running out of breath, she kept going and finished the phrase. It's as if she was expressing not only the music but her responsibility to her performance and the composer. But that's what makes opera wonderful...we all feel differnt things
but can still appreciate the beauty of the lady and her art.
Among the audience were fellow singers Theodor Uppman and Elaine Malbin. After the short recital, Ms. Amara talked to the audience of her career, how she started in music and comments about her young colleagues and their shortcomings. It was a lovely evening paying tribute to this great Met star.
While signing autographs, she told of a story that occured during the recording session for one of the "operagraphs" that she made for the Education Department of the Met. The day of the recording session, she received a severe bite from a Burmese cat.
Her thumb immediately swelled to operatic proportion and she made the recording of excerpts from La boheme holding her thumb high in the air.
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