Saturday's pre-Fourth of July concert was an amiable hodgepodge of star-spangled pops and other popular American classics by Bernstein, Copland and Sousa. But its central glory was Nicole Cabell, the extraordinarily gifted young American soprano who was making her first Ravinia appearance since winning the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition last year.
The Lyric Opera's star alumna has it all -- striking natural beauty, a killer smile, a statuesque frame a supermodel would envy, and, of course, that gorgeous voice.
She put her radiant soprano to crowd-pleasing use in a clutch of American musical theater classics from "Kismet," "Street Scene," "Showboat" and other shows, accompanied by the CSO and, in a brief cabaret turn on a darkened stage, by Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman at the piano.
Cabell was best in songs such as "Harlem on My Mind" and "And This is My Beloved," where her artistic poise, absolute sincerity of expression and alluring femininity were at one with the musical material. I would gladly have done without hearing orchestral excerpts from Verdi's "Aida" to have heard Cabell sing a few operatic arias. Maybe next time.
By John von Rhein
July 3, 2006