Aspen Music Festival And School

A Recital by Michelle DeYoung mezzo-soprano and Calio Alonso piano

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BEETHOVEN: An die ferne Geliebte, op. 98
SHAKESPEARE: Sonnet 116
MAHLER: Songs of a Wayfarer
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BLAKE: Love's Secret
BRIDGE: Three Songs for Mezzo-Soprano, Viola, and Piano
ANGELOU: Still I Rise
R. STRAUSS: Four Last Songs

Acclaimed by The New York Times as “a powerful singer with a warm, seductive tone,” Michelle DeYoung has thrilled international concert and opera audiences with her intensely committed performances. Last summer, she helped bring the Aspen season to a spectacular close by stepping in at the last minute for Mahler’s Second Symphony. It’s no surprise she’s said that Mahler is her forte, as his music sounds as it was composed with her in mind.

Mahler’s first song cycle "Songs of a Wayfarer" is the centerpiece of this recital which explores different facets of love. The four songs tell the story of a broken-hearted young man, and loosely parallel a recent romantic breakup in Mahler’s own life. In the first song, the hero anticipates the tears he’ll shed on his former sweetheart’s wedding day. The second has him celebrating the beauty and joy of nature—until the wedding music from the first song intrudes and he again laments his lost love. The third song is filled with agitation, as he imagines the wound she’s inflicted on him as a red hot knife. The last song begins with a funeral march and ends with a soothing lullaby, until the last moment when the funeral march returns as a reminder that grief awaits him once he awakens.

Beethoven’s only song cycle "An die ferne Geliebte" ("To the Distant Beloved") opens the program. It was the first song cycle by a major composer and the precursor of others by Schubert, Wolf, Mahler, and others.

Poetry of Shakespeare, Blake, and Angelou serves as a bridge between the musical works on this program, which concludes with Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, his sublime and profoundly moving swansong. Strauss was in his 80s and had already written almost 200 songs, inspired by his wife Pauline, a soprano. In 1946, he read a poem by Eichendorff about an aging couple who after many years together look at the setting sun and ask “Is that perhaps death?” The poem became the basis for “Im Abendrot,” ("At Sunset") the last of the four songs. The other three, “Spring,” “September,” and “Going to Sleep,” are set to poetry of Hermann Hesse. These magnificent songs are filled with both love for the beauty of the world and a deep surrender and acceptance of approaching death. They comprise one of the most beautiful parting gifts left by any composer.

Be enthralled by the artistry of one of the world’s great mezzo-sopranos in this unforgettable recital.

Tickets will remain on hold for 30 minutes.

Robert Spano, Music Director

Alan Fletcher, President and CEO