Truth is, Angel Blue captured London several years ago – pleasing classical conservatives and new-wavers alike with a distinct, distinguished voice – ‘smokey’ – is the word critics often use, that can tease hidden sonorities, secrets and sensitivities from those cerebral masters Purcell, Strauss and Puccini as if they were old friends joining her for strawberry daiquiris on a summer evening, downtown in her native LA.
So exceptionally versatile is Angel’s voice that some fans hear not so much the virtuoso interpreter of some of the most complex, technically demanding and – a curse for any rising singer – well-known pieces of music, but, instead, they hear a soulstress, the gifted exponent of a far different tradition to that of great, dead Europeans. The tradition of gospel, community singing, the blues and R&B. Angel effortlessly spreads her wings and alights on both worlds. That is no common talent. And this, for Angel, just a few years into her professional career, is still the overture.
Effortlessly, Angel is breezing through London at present – gracing Richard Strauss’s achingly beautiful Four Last Songs – Vier Letzte Lieder – with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Southbank Centre and then in informal concert at the Barbican. In June, she will be co-presenting Cardiff Singer of the World, for the BBC. Thankfully, she was able to talk to Culture Whisper – and began with a blast…
Angel Blue. Photo: Sonya Garza
‘I LOVE LONDON! The British in general are a warm and helpful culture, but I'm also incredibly biased. (I say helpful because every time I've been lost on the street there is always someone willing to help me figure out in which direction I should be going)… The London audience is one that doesn’t lie.’
But that Strauss, the Last Songs, always presents a challenge – how to tackle something so complex, for an audience that (thinks) it knows what it would like to hear? Angel, characteristically, puts her heart into the matter.
‘The Vier Letzte Lieder is no different than any other piece of music for me. I think the most important part of my journey with the Four Last Songs has been to really understand the poetry. I enjoy the poetry and think that so much of it applies to how I feel about life and the joys and adversities of life today. The journey of this piece will never end for me to be honest, I'm sure as I go through life my ideas and feelings about it will change and hopefully deepen with understanding.’
Later this year Angel will be in Dresden, for some of that time as Mimì, in La Bohème – a favourite, one of her ‘girlfriends’, as she terms her cherished roles, which will bring her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, towards the end of this year. Dresden will also see her in John Harbison’s modern American opera The Great Gatsby, derived from the F Scott Fitzgerald novel. The pace shows no sign of letting up. Nor should it. Bring it on, says Angel.
‘For now I'm content to be singing/portraying some of my best girlfriends; Mimi, Musetta, Violetta, Micaela, Liu, Donna Elvira, and the concert ladies as well, Verdi’s Requiem and the Four Last Songs. These roles are all dear to my heart. I feel they each have a place in my spirit that is difficult to describe because of how I feel for them not only as my friends, but as women whose legacy I so thankfully have the privilege of sharing. My two newest friends are Tosca and Bess, and I have to say we are getting along well so far.
‘I'm elated for my Metropolitan Opera debut at the end of this year. It has been a dream of mine to sing there since I was a little girl. I'm also happy to share that I have a debut at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in the near future, I cannot say what the role is at this time. However, I can say that truly I am overjoyed and I do hope that all of my “London family” will be able to attend. What an honour to sing in these iconic opera houses!’
|What||Time Becomes Space: soprano Angel Blue|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
On 28 Apr 17, 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|