Award-winning tenor and UM alum Michael Fabiano was joined by Collaborative Piano Professor Martin Katz in Hill Auditorium on Saturday to present a concert of art songs composed in the 19th and 20th centuries. As both artists have received numerous accolades for their work separately, it was a true delight to witness them come together for this intimate evening.
The program was separated into four groups of related works. The first group was four Victor Hugo poems that were set by Franz Liszt. The second was a collection of six pieces from the small yet significant collection of seventeen art songs by Henri Duparc. The second half opened with a selection of Italian songs from Giacomo Puccini and Arturo Toscanini, with Samuel Barber’s Three Songs of James Joyce, Op. 10 ending the program. The songs encompassed themes of love, death, and everything in between.
Fabiano established his prowess as both singer and actor by engaging with the audience through the difficult repertoire he sang. He was clearly comfortable onstage, no doubt owing to his operatic experience, and moved freely about the stage, adding unspoken meaning to the songs. He was able to capture the myriad of emotions that transpired over the course of the program by making use of different vocal colors and embodying the drama of the music.
The musicianship of Martin Katz was so clearly present during the concert that at times one might have forgotten that he was playing. He demonstrated his mastery over every unique style of the program’s composers, painting a breathtaking backdrop for Fabiano to explore and revel in.
Although the translations of the French and Italian songs were readily available in the program book, I decided not to follow along. I found the experience of imagining the story based on the emotions portrayed by the composer and the performers to be far more engaging and enjoyable.
At the conclusion of the written program, Fabiano proceeded to perform five encores for the highly receptive audience. Each one was more demanding than the last, and the concluding performance of the famous “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot was absolutely stunning. The evening was a beautiful reminder of the incredible talent Ann Arbor has been blessed with through the University of Michigan.