The Tucson Desert Song Festival, uniting many of the city’s major performing arts groups for three weeks of exciting concerts and events. This year, the festival will explore the many styles of Latin music. One of the highlights of the festival will be the return to Tucson of soprano Corinne Winters, who has performed Roméo et Juliette, La bohème, and Eugene Onegin, as well as a recital of songs from Spain, at the TCC Music Hall and Leo Rich Theater. The extraordinarily talented Winters will perform with True Concord Voices & Orchestra and guitarist Adam del Monte, as well as a recital where she will be joined by her husband, tenor Adam Smith.
Asked about this concert series, True Concord Music Director Eric Holtan says, “We don’t do a lot of Latin music, so when the festival decided they wanted a Latin theme, I dove in. This stuff is not the repertoire I have in my back pocket so I had to do a lot of research. It’s been a lot of fun. The main piece Corinne will sing in our concert is Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. It was originally written for a soprano and five cellos, but the composer himself transcribed it for guitar, which is a wonderful duo for that instrument and voice. In fact, Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening made it famous with their recording. And then we’re surrounding it with music from Brazil, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Argentina – all these wonderful places with music that dates from the 16th century to today. We’re going to cover a lot of ground, including a number of pieces that would be considered folk music for these countries.”
Winters elaborates on the song selection by adding, “I also will be singing ‘Estrela é lua nova’ by Heitor Villa-Lobos, ‘Alfonsina y el Mar’ by Ariel Ramirez, and ‘Duerme Negrito,’ arranged by Emilio Solé. I’m looking forward to two new challenges with this repertoire: singing in Portuguese, which I’ve never done before, and performing in a chamber setting, which I rarely get the chance to do.”
That high-powered program will be followed a day later by an intimate recital that promises equal excitement. “The first half is Berlioz’s masterpiece cycle Les Nuits d’été (Summer Nights), and the second half includes Tchaikovsky songs, Catalan and Sephardic songs, and some operatic duets with my husband Adam,” explains Winters. “My longtime coach and pianist, Laurent Philippe, will be playing, so I’m especially looking forward to collaborating with two of my favorite people in one evening!”
In Winters’ previous appearances in Tucson, she has sung in Italian, French, Russian, and Spanish. The latter is so compelling to her that she recorded Canción amorosa: Songs of Spain. She is exuberant in revealing why she enjoys performing in that language so much. “The passion! Spanish music – in all its dialects – hits you in the heart, the gut, the nostrils, and the taste buds. Singing and hearing this music brings me back to the present moment, pulling me out of my head and back into my body. I believe that’s what all good music does – it mentally transports us while simultaneously anchoring us in this moment.”
The recital will be a virtual album of moments to remember. Winters explains, “It’s called Shades of Night because it examines all the facets of night: celebration, romance, excitement, loss, and the metaphorical ‘dark night of the soul.’ Each piece, in one way or another, is about exploring what’s hidden. The pieces are beautiful and accessible, including a mix of standard works and lesser-known gems. I suggest that the audience really take in the variance in color and mood. This program is not esoteric; it’s meant to be experienced viscerally. I suspect the impact will be different for each person!”
Holtan is ecstatic about having this world-class soprano back in our midst. “She was such a huge hit when she was here last time, and when we reached out to her, she didn’t hesitate,” he says. Winters is happily looking forward to her return, as well. “Café Poca Cosa and Raging Sage Coffee are musts every time I’m in Tucson. I’ve been to the Desert Museum several times and I love it, but this time I’d like to do more hiking. Tucson is so funky – I can’t wait to be back!”