I had heard Measha Brueggergosman only once before, at a strangely disappointing recital in Berkeley, but she has been so highly and regularly praised that I was eager to hear her again last Wednesday, presented this time by San Francisco Performances. I was a little concerned because I had been up late at Cyrano the night before, and worried that the announced theme, Night and Dreams, might prove all too effective, and the artists would be treated to the sight of me snoring and drooling away in the front row. As with at least some of my anxieties, I needn’t have worried; I was alert throughout and missed nothing of the enchanting recital. I was so charmed I even stayed after to buy a CD and have her and Justus Zeyen, her accompanist, sign it. The CD is also called Night and Dreams, and though there isn’t that much overlap between the recital and the record, I haven’t listened to it yet, because I want to keep for a while longer my memory of her voice without distorting the memory with the recordings.
Her voice is indeed gorgeous; none of the breath control problems I noted in Berkeley were evident. At times it reminded me of Kathleen Battle’s voice, only in bronze instead of silver, if that makes sense. Her burnished tones were perfect for the theme. I enjoyed Zeyen’s solo turns in Schumann’s Nachtstuck in F Major, Opus 23, No 2, and Chopin’s Nocturne in D-flat Major, Opus 27, No 2. Nice to see them mix up the standard recital format in this way. I also liked the creative intercutting in the final set between three lied by Richard Strauss (Wiegenlied, Die Nacht, and Standchen) and four of Berg’s Seven Early Songs (Nacht, Traumgekront, Liebesode, and Schilflied). Her Wiegenlied stayed with me for days.
Brueggergosman is both glam and a down-to-earth total charmer; she looks like Eartha Kitt, only without the kittenish affectations. She wore two gowns (a deep red velvety number streaked with darker tones for the first half and then a silver gown, perhaps in homage to the moon) and she changed into a third for the CD signing. I complimented her on the performance and mentioned that she had changed again, and she said, “Well, I know how [the Bay Area is] about fashion.” I was wearing plain black wool pants and a long-sleeved black T-shirt, which proves my theory that the secret of elegance is long sleeves.
Oddly enough, at intermission a woman came up to me and asked if I was perhaps a singer (clearly she’d never heard me sing; as a friend thoughtfully pointed out recently, my voice still cracks) or a dancer (clearly she’d never seen me move). She was with a group from Oakland Lyric Opera and they had sent her over to find out if I was anybody. I assured her I was not. I thought it was odd only because I was asked the same question at the last Brueggergosman concert, and that is how I met Mr G/S Y (boa viagem, meu amigo!). Apparently I look extra-theatrical when I hear Ms Brueggergosman.