Natalie Lewis was wrestling with a Poulenc masterpiece called “Tu vois le feu du soir.” It’s his longest song and a bear to perform—somewhat rambling and hard to organize. And absolutely ravishing. There are two ways to approach it: to break it down and find the color for each image in the song (and there are a lot of them), or go into a kind of trance state and sing it like an oracle, building it in one long arc. We’d already done a fair amount of method #1 on Monday and Tuesday. Bénédicte is the pianist for this piece, so I was watching Natalie from out front. It dawned on me that she was somewhat overwhelmed by the welter of details in Paul Eluard’s poem. I could also see that Béné’s energy was sagging and she needed backup (as I would later on, when she returned the favor). So I took up the reins and proposed the broader approach, using Poulenc’s music as a kind of prayer or incantation. It worked for Natalie, who began to channel the majesty of Jessye Norman as she worked her way through this chef d’oeuvre.
NYFOS@Caramoor 2022: Day 3
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Called “the coolest dude in town” by Opera News, master collaborative pianist and coach Steven Blier is the co-founder and artistic director of New York Festival of Song. Here on No Song is Safe From Us, Steven blogs about the NYFOS Emerging Artist residencies, writes the engaging and erudite program notes for our Mainstage concerts, and contributes frequently to Song of the Day.