REVIEW: Yannick and Angela Meade Ring in the New Year

The masterful evening of operatic works brought the audience to their feet on multiple occasions.

Meade and Nezet-Seguin at Verzion Hall. Photo by the author.

Meade and Nézet-Séguin at Verzion Hall. Photo by the author.

If you heard some vocal fireworks before midnight on New Year’s Eve, it was Angela Meade at Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall.

The remarkable soprano, who headlined The Philadelphia Orchestra‘s New Year’s Eve concert, was in absolute breathtaking form as she returned to the ensemble for her first ever December 31st gala. I first saw Ms. Meade perform the comedic role of Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff at The Met, and I quickly understood all the buzz about the singer. The winner of the 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award and the 2011 Tucker Award, Ms. Meade, who received her training here at Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts, has become something of a pristine Verdi interpreter.

On Thursday evening, Ms. Meade clearly demonstrated that mastery of the Italian composer, bringing the audience to their feet after her powerful rendition of “Pace, pace, mio Dio!” from La Forza del Destino (you can watch a clip of her performing the aria at the 2014 Tucker Gala below). She had the same effect on the crowd after intermission, causing quite a stir during “Sempre libera” from La Traviata. Her tenor husband, John Myers, was planted in the audience and surprised everyone when he began to sing in the middle of her performance. It was truly a remarkable moment.

She also brought a level of warmth and tenderness to her interpretation of yet another iconic work from the operatic cannon, Puccini’s La Boheme, singing “Mi chiamano Mimi” with amazing sensitivity.

Nézet-Séguin once again demonstrated his uncanny ability to interpret opera with a level of emotional understanding and technical mastery. The concert’s opening number, the ravishing overture to Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, jumpstarted the evening’s festivities. Later, the Orchestra performed a gorgeous rendition of the Intermezzo from Act III of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and Concertmaster David Kim provided a heartfelt and beautiful performance of the “Meditation” from Massenet’s Thais.

At the end of the evening, Nézet-Séguin and Meade took to the stage with champagne flutes to ring in 2016. In a moving speech, Yannick suggested that music could serve as a bridge, a common language, for people to embrace diversity and peace in a rather turbulent world. It was a powerful and important reminder of how the arts can ultimately bring society together during seemingly dark times.