WAO Playlist Series XX Curated by Ashlynn Tymms
With rehearsals for Cosi Fan Tutte officially underway, Mezzo Soprano Ashlyn Tymss who stars as Dorabella curates this week's playlist featuring some of her favourite performances from opera's most beloved Mezzo Sopranos. Stream and read about Ashlynn's playlist below.
Verdi, Requiem- Liber scriptus, mezzo Rosalind Elias
This was the first recording I listened to of Verdi's Requiem in preparation to sing it for the Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra. Mezzo, Rosalind Elias performed it from memory, along with my all time favourite soprano Leontyne Price. I had just graduated from the Royal College of Music in London and a teacher there had said I wouldn't be able to sing the part as it was too soon vocally, that stamina wise it wasn't possible for me. I listened to this recording and was so emotionally taken that I was determined to sing it regardless of approval. I accepted the gig and spent the following months only singing this morning and night until it became so in my body there was no question I could perform it well. It was such a liberating performance for me and remains my favourite piece of work to sing.
Puccini, Turandot - Act 1 Chorus: Gira la cote!
At last minute I was asked to jump in as an extra chorus member on Opera Australia's Turandot summerseason 2018. Having only ever heard the main arias of this famous work I said yes straight away. When I finally got the score I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the chorus work in this piece. It was so exciting to throw myself into this music and then to sing it with such an incredible chorus was a dream. This was the first time I stepped foot on the Opera House stage. To have had that experience with the singers that were involved that season... I will never forget the magic.
Harris- Bring Us, Oh Lord God
When I was seventeen I moved to Melbourne from Perth to study voice at the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music. Whilst studying I was also part of the Trinity College Choir. We would sing each week three or so rehearsals and every Sunday an evensong service. We would sing through different pieces each week, I developed as a musician with a lot of sight reading whilst making some very dear friends. We recorded this piece and each time I would feel a lump in my throat from emotion during the performance. It is so angelic and speaks to the soul.
Weill - Je ne t'aime pas, mezzo Sofie von Otter
One of my first projects in London was a Cabaret concert. I was asked to prepare this special piece as well as some Poulenc and Satie. The rawness of this song excites me, the words are so relatable. This piece will rip your heart out, performing it is a cathartic experience.
Mozart, Cosi fan tutte: Dorabella Act 1 - Ah, scostati! mezzo Elina Garanca
I am so excited to be preparing the role of Dorabella for WAO, this will be the first time I have performed this role. When first looking at a role I listen to many recordings of different castings to get a feel for the overall ark of a character. I have always admired the lush and rich tone of Garanca, she adds to Dorabella a seriousness and dramatic side which I love.
Verdi, Don Carlo- O don Fatale, mezzo Giulietta Simionato
Simionato! She is incredible. This piece I would say is one of the toughest technical feats for the mezzo soprano voice. I have been working on it in recent months and it really is a marathon. Simionato is a masterclass in vowel placement, colour, phrasing, breath management and emotion. I love challenging music that makes you work, finding where the weaknesses are in your voice and technically working out how to improve. It is thrilling work and you can always find more within you than you knew you had.
Saint-Saens, Samson et Dalila: Amour viens aider ma faiblesse, mezzo Rise Stevens
Search Rise Stevens singing this aria on YouTube. She was an absolute Queen. Many years ago I watched this clip and was inspired by her beauty and total killer strength. Her voice is raw and wild and so striking. I wish I could have seen her perform live.
Bizet, Carmen: Pres des remparts de Seville mezzo Celcilia Bartoli
I was lucky to hear Bartoli love at the Melbourne Town Hall when I was at University. A full house, I recall seven standing ovations? She is so exciting, a real musician who makes every single thing that comes out of her mouth a work of individual & artful sound. What a genius.
Debussy, Clair de lune
Top of the pops favourite. My partner and I like to play it on long drives, in and amongst something like Rufus de sol or Pearl Jam. It is tranquility, peace and hope for me.
Verdi, Otello: Act 4 Piangea cantando nell'erma landa... & Ave Maria
No other than Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. I started classical singing lessons from around the age of 6 or 7 years. My teacher gave me a recording of Dame Kiri and as my Mum and I drove home we played it. I remember hearing Pamina's aria from the Magic Flute and thinking how incredible, a human could make such a sound!
Later on in my early 20s I was training at the Melbourne Opera Studio and the opportunity came up to sing for Dame Kiri at a public Masterclass. I prepared this aria to sing for her, she had made her debut at the Met with this role and for me her performance was perfection as Desdemona.
Dame Kiri was so kind to me and made the comment "I think you would be a thrilling mezzo soprano" This filled me with so much excitement as deep down I felt I was a mezzo, having always wanted to sing the mezzo repertoire with its rich tones and darker characters. Some years later while training in London, finally as a mezzo, I had the opportunity to meet with Dame Kiri again and tell her how thankful I was for her remarks and that she had sparked huge change for me at a time when I most needed it, she said simply, "well, I have terrific ears!"