There are singers with utterly gorgeous voices who don’t know quite what to do with them, and there are singers with great technique and intelligence who lack the voice to create a totally satisfying performance. And then there is Simon Keenlyside, the most popular artist on your alte Jungfer’s Mixcloud Web site (his Winterreise is second in number of “listens”—approaching 900—and has been “favorited “ 12 times; only Netrebko’s Manon Lescaut has reached a larger audience.)  

In almost a half century of attending opera and vocal recitals, I have never experienced an artist as complete in every aspect as Keenlyside. From Wozzeck to Onegin, from Hamlet to Pelléas, from Rodrigo to Billy Budd, the man is consistently flawless, but hearing him in recital—alone on a bare stage—is revelatory. I can think of no other contemporary singer able to connect with an audience as he does (and I was lucky enough to be at this recital). As clichéd as it may sound, it seemed as if he made eye contact with every audience member, as if he was singing just for you.

I was also at Wiener Staatsoper on the unfortunate evening in December 2014 when Keenlyside collapsed onstage midway through Act II, scene ii of the opening night of a new production of Rigoletto (one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had in a theater; I still wonder why the performance was not halted) and, as I have been told, subsequently withdrew from all performances through at least September, and possibly as late as January 2016, when he is scheduled for his role debut as Renato in Un ballo en maschera on the same stage.

I know you all join me in wishing him a full recovery, but until then, I will post more of his performances in recitals and in opera to tide us over.

Simon Keenlyside
Malcolm Martineau, piano

Wiener Konzerthaus
20 November 2008

En sourdine
Notre amour
Fleur jetée
Madrigal de Shylock
Le papillon et la fleur

“Histoires naturelles”
Le paon
Le grillon
Le cygne
Le martin-pêcheur
La pintade

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
Rie Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
Wenn ich in deine Augen seh
Ich will in meine Seele tauchen
Im Rhein, im heilihen Strome
Ich grolle nicht
Und Wüßten’s die Blumen
Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
Hör ich das Liedchen klingen
Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
Ich hab’ im Traum geweint
Allnächtlich im Traume she’ ich dich
Aus alten Märchen winkt es
Die alten bösen Lieder

HUGO WOLF: 2 selections from the Mörike-Lieder
FRANZ SCHUBERT: Ständchen from “Schwanengesang”