French soprano Natalie Dessay is probably best known for her extensive career as a coloratura soprano in major opera productions. Her last appearance with the San Francisco Opera took place this past June when she sang the role of Antonia in Laurent Pelly’s highly innovative staging of Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (the tales of Hoffmann). (This was one of many productions in which Dessay worked with Pelly.)
More recently Dessay has been expanding her repertoire into the art of solo song, not only in the classical domain of art song but also in a recent crossover album she recorded with Michel Legrand entitled Entre elle et lui (between her and him). Next month Dessay will make her debut as a solo recitalist in Davies Symphony Hall, accompanied at the piano by her long-time collaborator, Philippe Cassard. As might be expected, much of the program will be devoted to French composers. There will be seven songs by Francis Poulenc, five by Gabriel Fauré, and two each by Henri Duparc and Claude Debussy.
More interesting, however, may be the way in which Dessay has chosen to balance her French selections with those in German. In particular she will begin her recital with four songs by Clara Schumann, two of which she contributed to a “collaborative” song cycle of twelve poems from Friedrich Rückert’s Liebesfrühling (spring of love), her collaborator in this endeavor being her husband Robert. Schumann’s songs will be followed, appropriately enough, by three songs by Johannes Brahms, one from each of three of his collections: Opus 70, Opus 106, and Opus 71, respectively. The remaining German composer to be included on the program will be Richard Strauss with four of his songs.
Dessay’s Davies recital will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 15. Ticket prices range from $30 to $80 and may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the San Francisco Symphony Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.