Friday, February 23, 2007

St John's, Smith Square Recital Reviews

The Rosenblatt Recital Series, which presents concerts around London from artists ranging from the well-known to the brand-new, last week showcased Nicole Cabell, the glamorous 29-year-old winner of the 2005 Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Accompanied by pianist Simon Lepper, the American soprano tackled an impressive variety of repertoire. Her greatest strengths, it seems, lie in poetry and contemplative song. Three Liszt songs – ‘Es muss ein Wunderbares sein’, ‘Die Lorelei’ and ‘Enfant, si j’├ętais roi’ – held the audience spellbound as the voice seemed to become one with the accompaniment and indeed the piece. Later in the concert, Ben Moore’s Keats setting ‘Darkling I listen’ created a similar magic.

Yet in two Puccini favourites – ‘Quando me’n vo’’ (one of Cabell’s calling cards) and ‘Chi il bel sogno di Doretta’ — her tone was monochrome and there was little sense of character portrayal.
‘Padre, germani, addio’ from Idomeneo was imbued with urgency, while Bolcom’s ‘Amor’, was delivered with mischievous sparkle and wit. However in Gounod’s ‘Je veux vivre’ and (as an encore) Puccini’s ‘O mio babbino caro’, Cabell failed to set the hall alight, despite an unfailing sense of style and poise; her elegant, sophisticated presence just did not sit well with teenaged heroines, nor with the child subject of three songs from Bernstein’s ‘I hate music’.

In other offerings from American music theatre, Cabell proved herself as an entertainer; she struck just the right balance between schmaltz and musicality, a rare gift when presenting a mixed recital programme to a largely classical audience.

This was by no means a flawless recital, and perhaps the variety of repertoire was simply too great. Cabell’s Liszt interpretations alone proved her to be a young artist of exceptional promise; perhaps next time she should focus on such a strength and present it to the best of her ability.
Ruth Elleson

Opera Today
28 Feb 2007

It’s a voice that wraps itself around you. That is how Marilyn Horne described the lyric soprano of the Californian Nicole Cabell, who took first prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the Year in 2005 and who presented her solo calling card to London on Wednesday in her Rosenblatt Recital.

The voice does, indeed, have something of the pashmina about it: long, sinuous phrasing, warm tone and a sophistication that touches everything she sings. Cabell does no more and no less at present than simply sing the music that fits her voice best: Puccini, French opera and American song.

Every register of her voice is illuminated through her generous smile; there’s a sudden sense of lift-off into coloratura and an irresistible glide through every second of schmaltz. Whether experience or a new singing teacher will give her a wider palette of vocal colour, a sharper focus, a punchier edge to phrasing and inflection remains to be seen. But this audience was enthralled by her Musetta Quand m’en vo’ soletta per la via , by her Rondine Che il bel sogno di Doretta and by her Gounod Juliette Je veux vivre . She also brought close focus to three songs by Liszt, consummately accompanied by Simon Lepper.

And it was good to hear Ben Moore’s responses to Keats’s nightingale in his setting Darkling I listen , followed by a tricksy, witty performance of Amor , one of William Bolcom’s superb Cabaret Songs .

Hilary Finch The Times 23 February 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nicole talks about her career since Cardiff

Singer of the World list revealed

The 25 singers who will compete in "the world's greatest singer competition" - the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World title - have been revealed.

A record number of more than 1,000 auditioned and three countries make the final for the first time.

The competition, held every two years, has helped launch many international careers - including Bryn Terfel's.

Soprano Nicole Cabell, the 2005 winner, said she has had "a remarkable amount of good fortune" since her triumph.

"I've been all over the world. I can probably say most of my engagements have come on the heels of my Cardiff victory," said the American, whose debut solo CD is released in the UK soon.

"It's a fantastic start, I've no idea where I would be without it. I might be here, I might not but I certainly don't think I'd be here as quick or with such fortitude."

Since her win she has debuted at the Royal Opera House in London and has dates at opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic scheduled into her diary.

The names of the shortlist for the week of concerts in Cardiff in June were revealed on Thursday by BBC Wales controller Menna Richards.

This year's winner will receive increased prize money of £15,000 and may also have an opportunity to perform with the BBC and the Welsh National Opera.

Three countries - Estonia, Croatia and Uzbekistan - have competitors in the final for the first time. Singers from as far afield as Brazil, China, Australia and Norway will take part.

Ms Richards said: "Each BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition brings the attention of the music world to Wales for this unique search for excellence in opera and song.

"Singers and audiences alike enjoy what are both fiercely contested competitions and an unparalleled experience for young singers.

The competition's patron Dame Joan Sutherland said she was eagerly looking forward to return to Wales to "the world's greatest singing competition".

She said: "I am delighted to see the huge success 2005's winner Nicole Cabell is now enjoying which she happily acknowledges was thanks to her success in Cardiff."

The competition was launched in 1983 with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila emerging winner.
In 1989 Bryn Terfel won the Lieder prize - the second part of the competition which is now known as the Song prize - and Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky the overall title.

From BBC News

Contest was a 'springboard' for past winner

The winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World has revealed how the contest has boosted her career.

Nicole Cabell returned to the Welsh capital for yesterday's launch of the 2007 competition.

The American soprano's career has rocketed since she was awarded the prize.

She has won rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, including when she made her Royal Opera House debut.

She has also signed a contract with Decca and her first solo album will be launched in the spring.

She will also make her debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera in the coming months.

"The result of winning this competition is immeasurable," she said.

"It really is the one to win and the media exposure is priceless.

"The competition has been a springboard to many of my engagements, if not all of them."

Karen Price,
Western Mail,
IC Wales