Forget Pavarotti and the rest. The Festival is spotlighting the operatic stars of the next millennium. Welsh baritone BRYN TERFEL and American mezzo-soprano JENNIFER LARIMORE
head the pack. Words: Alan Morrison
Opera star Jennifer Larmore: ‘l’m a girl who likes a challenge'
‘lT’S FUNNY THAT people use words like “nerve-wrackin” because I don’t really feel “nerve-wracked”. I’m a girl who likes a chaHengef
American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore sounds pretty confident about her Edinburgh International Festival debut. But so she should. One of the classical scene’s hottest rising talents, Larmore has performed at opera houses across the world, sung in The Barber Of Seville and Les Huguenots at Covent Garden, and even shared the stage with Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Patrick Stewart in Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl.
She also played to one of the largest worldwide audiences when she sang at the televised closing ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games in her hometown of Atlanta. ‘I think I’m still on cloud nine,’ she says, starry-eyed. ‘It was probably one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I will never again say the best seat in the house is at home watching it on television — you cannot beat being there, walking out into that stadium. I felt like I wanted to cry. And I kept telling myself, “No, not now!”.’
So. with an international standing as an opera singer already secured, Larmore is fast making a name for herself as a solo performer. A coast-to- coast recital tour across America last year established her as a star in her own right, while her recordings have included two solo discs, the most recent — Call Me Mister — gathering together a unique collection of arias from cross-dressing roles. It’s clear that she’s as comfortable on the opera stage as she is in the solo spotlight.
‘They’re totally different ways of singing,’ she insists. ‘ln opera. you have a lot of time to rest because other people are going on to sing their arias. When you’re singing a recital, it’s just you. your accompanist and your audience. It’s very intimate.‘
Larmore also enjoys the control a recital allows her over the content of the programme, which in Edinburgh will cover her specialities (Rossini, Mozart, Handel) and some 20th century American songs. most by neglected composers. ‘You can be rather selfish and do the things you like to do — and hopefully carry your joy out to the audience,’ she explains. ‘That’s a great feeling because you’re able to communicate quite a hit more than you can personally on an opera stage. You’re exposed. All your emotions are right out there for everybody to see.’
Jennifer Larmore (International Festival) Queen’s Hall (Venue 72) Edinburgh, 0131 473 2000, 18 Aug. 11am, £4—£1 7.
15—21 Aug 1997ru£u3127