Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

Since Crocetto had a major success as Anna in Rossini’s Maometto
in 2012, she opened the recital with an aria from that composer’s
Semiramide, a tour de force for both singer and pianist. Rossini wrote
Semiramide for his wife, Isabella Colbran, who was known for her accurate
dramatic coloratura. “Bel raggio lusinghier” is the opera’s
major aria and in Santa Fe both artists performed it with exquisite

I wonder if these artists knew that Angela Meade had sung the same three
Richard Strauss songs, Zueignung, Morgen, and
C‰cilie, in the same hall a few days earlier. In any case, they are
wonderful songs and both Crocetto and Meade sang them with exquisite grace. In
all probability the Rachmaninov segment that included Zdes khorosho
(How fair this place), Ne poy kravitsa pri mne
(Don’t sing, my beauty), and Otrivok iz A. Musset
(An excerpt from Alfred de Musset), brought many art song lovers to
the recital. Here Crocetto proved her ability to put the text over when even
the most frequent concertgoers might not know the meaning of the Russian words.
Listening to her vocal colors, one could think of being in a majestic natural
setting with with a lover. The message of the second song served to remind
listener of past homes and the last song invited the audience to empathize with
Musset’s hopeless lover.

In 1838, when Franz Liszt and Marie d’Agoult stayed in Italy they read
Petrarch’s works together and the readings inspired the composition of
Three Petrarch Sonnets. In Pace non trovo (I can’t
find peace
) the lyrics are replete with extreme contrasts, so Liszt
expressed them with forward-looking harmonies and constant agitation. Crocetto
and Sanikidze made the urgency of the poet’s love real to their
twenty-first century audience. The second song, Benedetto sia
(Blessed be the day) was quite appropriate in this
uniquely beautiful old hall far from the crowds and commercialism of a less
appreciative city. Toward the end of I vidi in terra (On earth
), Petrarch wrote a line that describes much of this recital:
“So sweet a concert made as ne’er was given mortal ear.”
Crocetto’s high notes are extraordinary; her middle range is warm, and
her chest tones remind the listener of singers we can now only hear on

For their finale, Crocetto and Sanikidze offered an aria from Carlisle
Floyd’s opera Susannah: “Ain’t it a Pretty
Night?” Crocetto’s phrasing was regal, her diction understandable, and
her tones luscious. During this selection and every other work on this program,
Sanikidze partnered her with exquisite playing. Since the soprano had sung jazz
earlier in her career, her encores included Jerome Kern’s All the
Things You Are
and “My Heart Is So Full of You” from Frank
Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella.

This summer, Performance Santa Fe presented recitals by Daniel Okulitch and
Keri Alkema with pianists Glen Roven and Joe Illick; Angela Meade with Illick,
Leah Crocetto with Tamara Sanikidze, as well as Joshua Hopkins and Ben Bliss
with Illick. We can expect them to have a similarly fine roster next

Maria Nockin


Rossini: Semiramide “Bel raggio lusinghier” R. Strauss:
Zueignung, Morgen, C‰cilie Rachmaninov: How Fair this Place,
Don’t Sing to Me, my Beauty, Why is my Sick Heart Beating so
Liszt: Three Petrach Sonnets Floyd:
Susannah, “Ain’t it a Pretty Night?”


Kern: All the Things You Are; Loesser: The Most Happy Fella,
“My Heart Is So Full of You&#8221.

Scottish Rite Center, Santa Fe; August 4, 2016.

image_description=Leah Crocetto at Sante Fe
product_title=Leah Crocetto at Sante Fe
product_by=A review by Maria Nockin
product_id=Above: Leah Crocetto

Photo credit: Faye Fox.