Saturday, March 19, 2011

New York Times: 'Forging a Connection in Songs about Women'; Angela M. Brown, Maya Angelou & Richard Danielpour

Arts | Westchester
Published: March 18, 2011
“SINCE her stunning debut as Aida at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004, Angela M. Brown has been portrayed as the latest in a line of powerful African-American sopranos, a reputation she enhanced last season with outsize performances in Richard Danielpour's song cycle “A Woman’s Life” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“But Ms. Brown has another side to her artistic personality, one she promises to reveal on March 27, when she and the pianist Michael Boriskin, a distinguished interpreter of Mr. Danielpour’s work in his own right, take the stage together in the premiere of a distinctly more intimate version of “A Woman’s Life” at Copland House in Mount Kisco.”

“Ms. Brown and Mr. Danielpour began connecting in 2005 when she replaced Jessye Norman in the world premiere of “Margaret Garner,” a Danielpour opera with a Toni Morrison libretto. Ms. Brown’s performance was so strong, he said, that he decided to follow up the effort by writing a song cycle for her. In the spring of 2006, Maya Angelou joined the project, contributing eight poems tracing the arc of a woman’s life. In due course, Mr. Danielpour set seven of them to music. Revisiting the poems recently, Ms. Angelou stressed their universality. The poems’ content ranges from a young girl’s fears to an older woman’s affairs. 'They’re about all women’s lives,' she said.

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