by Daniel Hathaway
Two of the singers who joined James Levine in his triumphant return to the Metropolitan Opera for Mozart’s Così fan tutte on September 24 will find themselves in Cleveland on different missions during the next week. Tenor Matthew Polenzani will appear with The Cleveland Orchestra in performances of Britten’s Serenade, and soprano Susanna Phillips will bring two of her favorite chamber music collaborators to town for the opening concert of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society’s 64th season on Tuesday, October 15 at Plymouth Church.
New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote that Phillips “had what could be a breakthrough night at the Met as Fiordiligi…She has the purity and bloom of a Mozart lyric soprano. Yet her voice can lift phrases with penetrating sound and deep richness.” Asked in a telephone conversation about that night, Susanna Phillips told us that Levine’s return was “an incredible experience — he’s an incredible guy. It was a night I won’t soon forget. It was great to see him back so full of joy and focus. Everybody was thrilled.”
Though Phillips is an international opera star, her feet are planted firmly on the ground, and she maintains a close relationship with Huntsville, the Alabama town where she grew up. When she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in La bohème in 2008, four hundred and fifty local fans flew up to New York to hear her sing. “It’s very rewarding to have the community rally behind you — and they keep showing up and sending me emails and notes,” she said. [Read more…]