Sopranessence, an all-female vocal group comprised solely of sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, held their Valentine’s Day event a few days early on February 11, 2017 in the Memorial Theater of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. The proceeds from their love song-filled “Affairs of the Heart” went to support the American Heart Association’s Greater Washington Region, specifically the Go Red for Women campaign that supports women at risk for heart disease. As the seven “Divas” of Sopranessence took the stage, their signature red gowns helped highlight the event’s theme and fundraiser.
…chills ran down my spine at the powerful harmonies of Sopranessence.
From the first song, Harry Warren’s “That’s Amore,” chills ran down my spine at the powerful harmonies of Sopranessence. Each of the seven singers were highly skilled, hitting their notes with ease, despite most of the music being octaves above an ordinary vocal range. The impressive Sopranessence vocalists were accompanied by a versatile pianist, Ruth Locker, who transitioned from cantatas to musical theatre pieces with ease.
Despite a few sound and enunciation issues, the pieces Sopranessence chose to perform were accessible and thrilling. Though it was impossible to choose which Diva hit the most impressive notes, some individual performances stole the show. In “Caro nome che il mio cor,” Bharati Soman’s incredible vocal power and control blew me away. Louisa Waycott’s harmonies and descants demonstrated her full voice, and Krystal Waters consistently blended her notes so that her solos ran smoothly without the interruptions of staccato. Furthermore, the staging for “Steal Me, Sweet Thief” perfectly framed soloists such as Adrienne Neal and drew audience eyes to her, while songs like “To Keep My Love Alive” and “Taylor, the Latte Boy” refreshingly cut through the frilliness of some of the other pieces to give the entire performance more dimension.
However, despite the talent of Sopranessence, “Affairs of the Heart” had some weaknesses. Although the staging and movement held the attention of the audience better than standing in place, the Divas had difficulty holding the shape of their formations. Their circles flattened and they were often uneven in their placement. When the movement did not succeed, it was distracting and detracted from the extraordinary vocals and piano accompaniment. Additionally, Sopranessence appeared more equipped to handle cantatas and opera than musical theatre numbers. Their musical numbers often lagged, as was especially noticeable in their penultimate piece “Wicked’s” “What Is This Feeling?” as the energy required to measure up to Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth might have been too much after a two-hour performance.
Nevertheless, Sopranessence is a treat to witness, both for their vocals and for the diversity of the songs they execute. Sopranessence states that their goal is to “break the stereotype of classical music being stuffy and distant,” and the accessibility and fun they bring to their pieces does just that.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes.
Although “Affairs of the Heart” has ended, Sopranessence performs regularly. For more information about their shows and venues, please click here.