Seven soloists from Chennai with four accompanists performed western classical fare from the 17th and 18th Centuries

It was an evening where Handel, Schubert, Mozart and Rossini rolled off Coimbatoreans’ tongues as seven accomplished soloists from Chennai brought their classics alive. At ‘Arias and Art Songs’ a concert by The Residency and Coimbatore Art and Theatrical Society, the music flowed unhindered, Italian, French and German poetry found new meaning, and the age of European opera was rejuvenated.

As a quick introduction to the young talent showcased for the evening, each of the soloists first performed one song, accompanied by the piano. All the soloists held certificates or diplomas from The Trinity College, London or The Royal Schools of Music, London. Some of the pieces had helpful English translations projected alongside and others had short descriptions of the stories behind their creation. From F. Conti’s melodious ‘Quella Fiama’ about the flame of love that never dies, to Durante’s light-hearted ‘Danza Danza’ and G. Puccini’s hopeful declaration of love in ‘Nesum Dorma’, the repertoire provided a glance at the variety fare to follow.

Nadisha Thomas, a powerful soprano, opened the second half of the evening with ‘Per Pieta’, a piece almost entirely in the higher octaves, her voice seamlessly transitioning in and out of falsettos. She followed up with ‘Ich Trage’ and closed with J. Haydn’s ‘On Mighty Pens’ which had impossibly fast runs, accurately traipsed through. Sixteen-year-old Sithara Santwan followed with ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’, a sorry tale of a girl pleading with her father for permission to marry her lover, even threatening suicide. The young singer also rendered two Mozart compositions, the second his famous ‘Lacrimosa Requiem Mass’ — a eulogy which Sithara sang earnestly with clasped hands.

Mozart was invoked again as Anupa Paul sang ‘Voi Ave-te’. As much a performer as a singer, Anupa leaned into the audience, enticing them along the cheeky and confident phrases the song veered through. She concluded with ‘Holy City’, Stephen Adam’s rousing anthem in praise of a new Jerusalem.

The only male singer in the troupe, Ebenezer Arunkumar took the stage next with G.F. Handel’s ‘How Vain is Man’ — an interesting play between the vocalist’s notes and the piano’s antics. He then recreated Mozart’s beautifully built crescendos in ‘Don Giovanni — Il Meo’ and showed off his tenor voice with its natural vibrato in G. Rossini’s ‘Cujus Animam — Staabat Mater’.

In contrast came Shilvy Sharon, her wisp of a frame disguising her strong, husky soprano. She began with the sweet and gentle ‘Come Ever Smiling Liberty’ which expanded a few lines of poetry with new dimensions in each repeat. ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ showed another side to Shilvy with its comical and taunting sung bits of laughter.

Kavita Poornima was the classic opera singer of the troupe for her voice threw across the hall dominantly enough to not require amplification. With raised eyebrows, an expressive face and articulately shaped lyrics, she sang from operas by Bizet and Rossinni accompanied by a full symphony playing on a pre-recorded track.

Roshni Sharon Raj, pianist, guitarist and singer with the Madras Musical Association, concluded the soloists’ section singing the soft and soothing ‘From Mighty Kings’ followed by a piece from Mozart’s most popular but almost-censored opera ‘Figaro’. To close an evening where each soloist painted in their individual singing styles, there couldn’t have been a better ending than Handel’s ‘See the Conq’ring Hero Comes’ where they blended together as one, led by Augustine Paul. The curtains came down as the voices chorused ‘Sound the trumpet; Beat the drum’.