Sara Mingardo and Francesca Biliotti at Wigmore Hall

Giorgio Dal Monte, Francesca Biliotti, Sara Mingardo, Giovanni Bellini

Three years after my first trip to Wigmore Hall to hear Sara Mingardo sing Italian laments and songs, she’s back, this time with Francesca Biliotti, another contralto under Sara Mingardo’s training wings (she’s been training a lot of the young generation to sing baroque, very endearing!) . Accompanying them is the young harpsichordist Giorgio Dal Monte who, if you follow Sara Mingardo, would recognize as the one in all of her masterclass photos (jeah, it’s getting to the point I now recognizing all younger singers and accompanists who collaborate often with SM 🙂 ), and another young theorbo player Giovanni Bellini, who i have not heard before (I’ve seen her often with Ivano Zanenghi, who I spotted in Venice) . The repertoire covers wonderful duets from Monteverdi. Thanks to Dehggi and her connection, we got row 4 !! from which i have to say how impressed i’m how powerful Sara Mingardo’s voice is, along with the amazing level of depth, details, colors, and resonance. We both had a feeling perhaps Biliotti was a bit to tight when things got started, while Mingardo was completely at ease — i breath Monteverdi in my sleep, [wink], [soft smile] (sigh). It’s also quite endearing the amount of contact she made to Biliotti at the end of each piece.

The first duet, I ‘d have to listen more to get used to as there was a lot of recit and “conversation”.. The bits not needing any re-listening to get used to is … o.m.g.. d.r.o.o.l.i.n.g… “Vorrei baciarti” . What i so love is also how into it S.Mingardo’s expression was, both vocally and physically in her body and facial expression. Actually here one could also distinguish that without knowing the words you can understand so much in SM’s depth compared to Biliotti, who I think will gain more expression with experience. Truly swoooooning… as soon as the piece finished i was already thinking: encore!! TWICE!! please!! This transitioned into “Voglio di vita uscir”, where, as you know, it’s got a fast tempo start, a very sharp turn into simply theorbo and S.Mingardo singing looong line of emotion and piani.. ahh… too precious.. The next two songs i’ll have to re-listen to catch on more details again.. The final being “Zefiro torna”, which D. apparently knew very well and reported having been waiting forever for mezzos/contraltos to sing in place of the only available CT version on tube.. well, this one was broadcast on bbc 3 radio, so yay! They were really having fun alternating their phrases, playful at times, so lovely to watch 🙂 . Imagine Yoda at a Monteverdi night club DJ-ing coloratora runs, jeah, that’s SM in this piece, with her knees bending, body swinging, and leaps in dynamics through those fast note runs. There were also 2 instrumental pieces, but you’ll have to excuse me as I didn’t really manage much, was all focusing on the luscious sound…

Claudio Monteverdi(1567-1643)
Settimo libro de madrigali
Ohimè, dov’è il mio ben, dov’è il mio core? ‘Romanesca’
Con che soavità, labbra odorate

Girolamo Frescobaldi(1583-1643)
Toccata nona

Claudio Monteverdi
Settimo libro de madrigali
Vorrei baciarti
Voglio di vita uscir, voglio che cadano
Settimo libro de madrigali
Non è di gentil core
O come sei gentile

Giovanni Kapsberger(c.1580-1651)
Canzone prima

Claudio Monteverdi
Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti

The noon concert ended with Sara Mingardo hugging and landing warm kisses to her young colleague… ahh, too warm to handel… of course we went back stage to say hi to her, she’s sooooooooooo sweet 🙂 , i of course mentioned I heard her in Detroit and Washington DC (oooooh woooow she replied 😉 ), then Penelope in Hamburg, and of course pointing to Dehggi who joined in for mentioning us hearing her in Dario in Turin, to both she was very happy to hear. I mean we both looked a little bit youngsters who oozed enthusiasm for Monteverdi (to which she said “I love” (singing Monteverdi)) and we parted with her extending her hands out to shake mine and Dehggi’s ❤ ❤ ❤ . ahhh… oh jes, we did ask her for a photo, she was soooooooo charming , with big smile: sure, without my glasses (sooooooooo cute) and so we flanked her.. i snapped it… to our disappointment the camera malfunctioned so in the end it did not register the photo we all saw in the preview… but altogether, yours truly left with smushy knees (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) and the lovely exchange in the green room after such a lovely intimate noon concert. ❤ . (no i don't need help yet). you can relisten to the program here. (please excuse spelling and grammar errors.. am off to download that broadcast to re-listen…)

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

49 Responses to Sara Mingardo and Francesca Biliotti at Wigmore Hall

  1. dehggial says:

    you managed not to pass out 😉 lovely stuff, very gentle phrasing and lots of smiling – and really kind in person.

  2. dehggial says:

    looks like I was wrong about Zefiro torna, other people than CTs sing it, even Kozena and Prohaska together 😉

    • qlorgnette says:

      but if you can have Mingardo… I mean. It is not even a question.

    • Agathe says:

      It’s such a fun piece in general, but this very version is just gorgeous! Love SM’s way of manoevrering the runs with such nonchalant ease.

      • dehggial says:

        you should’ve seen her, she was in great spirits, just smiling almost constantly. And so gentle and encouraging with her young colleague ❤

        • Agathe says:

          How I wish I had been there!. And listening to her voice I could not imagine her as anything else than a very warm-hearted person, love the report of the backstage meeting!

          • dehggial says:

            she’s really unpretentious. I was thinking, wow, she’s sung all this stuff and here she is, acting like no big deal, talking like a regular person, having time for whoever wants to come backstage and say hello (we really just went in and then accidentally exited on the main stage! so there we go, we also made our Wiggy debut 😉 )

          • Agathe says:

            Hihi, I’m just picturing you two stumbling onto the Wiggy stage, completely star-struck 😀 I guess baroque music is so far off mainstream that even the most well-known artists are not much recognized or bothered by fans in daily life, probably that’s why they can keep their relaxed attitude. And I’m sure she did appreciate hearing that fans follow her around the world 🙂

        • thả diều says:

          I back to listening to this last piece, soooooo fun 🙂 !!! and all that wide smiles and jiving too..
          i heard a “beep beep beep” ring right at the last clap where they very quickly cut the broadcast.. so i think it was really running over and that’s why there was no chance for encore.. i have a suspicion they might have sung their duet from the cd you know… well, i guess you swap that out for the theorbo solo (i could have done without 😀 ). can’t help but leave with a gentle smile on your face after this.

  3. qlorgnette says:

    Siiiiiigh.

    • thả diều says:

      siiggghhh … i cant remember much.. you might querry Dehggi for my behavior yesterday…
      D : i know why i had a “melt down” late in the afternoon… finally moving too far away from a certain contralto’s aura circle 😉

    • thả diều says:

      ps- in listening to the broadcast i am shocked how well Biliotti’s voice comes through. we sat very close and based on my hearing i heard primarily SM’s power and resonance.. and was quite shocked how powerful her voice was.. that at times Biliotti’s voice was almost masked. the big difference when the 2 voices merged was the depth and richness of SM’s surrounding Biliotti’s more “single beam” sound. She has a really nice tone though , as heard clearly in the braodcast

  4. Agathe says:

    Oooohh, this must have been wonderful, I’m so happy for you! Didn’t find any time since yesterday, only now starting the broadcast,…!

  5. Agathe says:

    I don’t know where the BBC micro was located but the acoustics seem to carry extremely well, making these wonderful light piano parts possible.

    • dehggial says:

      mic: as usual just above the stage.

      • Agathe says:

        And is it the same listening experience from the audience compared to broadcast? (I mean, of course live will be better in many aspects, but what about the sound distribution?)

        • dehggial says:

          the sound distribution is very different. We had good central seats but it would’ve been interesting to hear from different sides and distances. We heard SM and the harpsichord VERY loud. It’s funny to think of her as loud but that she was from the fifth row. We were sat on the side of the harpsi so perhaps that is why he came off loud – also he does to be rather bangy (he was with her here last time as well). We heard Biliotti a lot softer as well as the theorbo. On the other hand, T noticed that SM’s sound is a lot more resonant live (especially her top, full and resonant compared to Biliotti’s a lot more cautious – then again, a young contralto might be more cautious about hitting the top notes). So I guess sound mixing smooths out some stuff.

          • Agathe says:

            You think they actively mix the sound for the recording? I does seem very balanced on the recording. But I thought you would need individual micros attached to to the singers for that? Quite a science to choose the best seats for any individual performance, and in light of your budget.

          • dehggial says:

            maybe it’s just how the sound is captured at that particular distance and angle from the body, given the specific Wiggy acoustics. Now that I’ve been in the house for a number of performances I can tell you that whatever it is, it does smooth out the edges. But, like you said, there are so many different variables when it comes to how sound is received by any one of us…

          • Agathe says:

            I couldn’t remember the acoustics, it’s been so long I’ve been to Wiggy, that fact needs to be changed!

          • dehggial says:

            the open invitation to casa dehggi stands 🙂

          • thả diều says:

            (eavesdropping)

          • dehggial says:

            are you back home? (as you know, I love sharing the gift of Wiggy with friends 🙂 so all they need to say is when and what)

          • thả diều says:

            now munching on noodle soup at local taiwanese shop 🙂
            ( i will try to make to Prina at Wigmore one of thses days)

          • dehggial says:

            😀 to both.

          • thả diều says:

            i think they balance (normalize) the inputs.. the mics were mounted vertically from floor up to just in front of the singers at a little bit more than 1 arm-length away.. i was really wondering given how “loud” we heard SM that she would saturate the broadcast! but then i had to compare with the harpsichord which was equally loud… very interesting

          • Agathe says:

            OK, I really get now that this must have been overwhelming, sitting directly in her vocal flow…

          • thả diều says:

            D heard her too , so not just my selective hearing 😉

          • thả diều says:

            yeah, you remember the contrast when we sit on ground level vs on the side in Hamburg? Actually my first thought hearing her “full power” here was : “i see now how she can really project her sound in Hamburg” , followed by the (self confirmation) that her voice is really not that “small” as typically thought of, because i heard her (and her resonance) very well in that gigantic Kenedy Center in DC.. and the primary “issue” is just that her voice warmth and range cover just almost the exact central range of all kinds of instruments.. so if we just shut them we can hear her very well 🙂 (NStutzmann was such an expert in that, as well as E.Pido when it comes to caring for her voice and expression…

            ok, i semi done obession for this sunday 😉 .. let me just go back to listen for the 475562x the concert again…)

          • thả diều says:

            Do you think he’s “bangy” ? i was watching how delicate he was playing and any moment he puts his fingers down the same “loudness” came out.. that’s why i was asking if there’s a way to control the dynamics with the harpsichord.. if anything perhaps he should have shut the lid a bit more? but it doesn’t seem to bother SM.. and he’s been accompanying her for at least 4 years now… and with her experience at Wiggie i’d think she knows how loud she has to sing to make all the expressions audible to the last row.. may be we get a funny “amplification” from our seats 🙂 not that i’m complaining 🙂 . but i admit due to that imbalance between hers and Biliotti’s i actually didn’t hear their exchanges in the 1st and 2nd to last duets.. things came out much more clear during Vorrei barciati and Zefiro torna.

          • dehggial says:

            hm, all I can say is that I’ve heard the harpsichord softer in the same venue, but, again, there are so many variables… in his case, the accompaniment has always been just him and the threorbist, so maybe he would sound less bangy with more of a band. Who knows?

          • thả diều says:

            we might have sat in _the_ only spot in Wiggie where contralto of certain warmth is amplified… along with the harpsi.. a soundwarp 😉

          • dehggial says:

            must sit there for other contraltos! This is another level of fandom – singling out seats for different voices 😉 for Roschmann and Pratt right at the back, ACA anywhere, voice fills the whole room.

          • thả diều says:

            ACA: you hven’t checked out the soundwarp spot yet, it might devour you (in every good way) 😉

          • dehggial says:

            I would take my chances if she returns to Wiggy!

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