Nicole Car opened Covent Garden's 2017/8 season as Mimi and later this year, she and her husband Etienne Dupuis will debut in the New York Metropolitan Opera's Franco Zeffirelli production of La Boheme. Let's hope that it makes its way to the Dendy Opera screenings.
In February last year, their son Noah was born. In March, Victor Grynberg said of her role in La Traviata "last night watching and listening to the faultless Nicole Car, I definitely heard my best Violetta ever".
It was hardly surprising that the Brisbane's Concert Hall audience had an expectant buzz, as they waited to greet two, possibly three, very special ladies - the up and coming Nicole Car and the Concert Hall debut of the 1726 Stradivarius, in the hands of Principal Violin Salu Vanska.
The movements of Mozart's Symphony No 27 were separated in the program, which began with a mannered and memorable Handel - Overture and dances from Alcina.
Car entered unannounced as the Handel was ending and immediately began "That's it, you've won" from Mozart's "Basta vincesti". The drama and the emotion were palpable as Car's wonderful voice took on the colourations of anger and despair. Without applause and still singing, she left the stage. It was the turn of Salu Vanska and the Stradivarius, bringing astonishing life and depth to the familiar "Romance for Violin and Orchestra" by Beethoven.
Re-enter Car to give unrestrained operatic life to Beethoven's "Ah, perfido". Again anger and despair struggled for dominance and Car's extraordinary voice and technique initially had the tribute of a palpably engaged audience stunned by the intensity of feeling that she was communicating and then ultimately by their thunderous applause.
As Car wrote" to have the chance to perform onstage with an ensemble like the ACO where there is a real dialogue between the singer and orchestra is a really exciting collaboration". We all shared that excitement.
After the interval, Nicole's voice, off stage, and an almost completely dark stage, set the mood for the 12th century "Ave Maria" by Hildegard of Bingen. This morphed into Verdi's "Avi Maria" then Puccini's "Chriantemi". The almost unbroken flow from one to the next gave an almost operatic feel to the whole concert, and there was a sense of unity between orchestra and soloist. Although the theme featured women "in extremis" there was also a sense of their passionate sheer strength of will.
This was a very fine concert, all the better for the expectation that there is a great deal more to hear, both from the ACO and from Nicole Car.
Richard Tognetti Director
Nicole Car Soprano
Satu Vänskä Violin
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Handel: Overture and Dances from Alcina
Mozart: Basta, vincesti – Ah, non lasciarmi
Beethoven: Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F major
Beethoven: Ah! Perfido
Hildgard: (arr. strings) Ave Maria, O auctrix vite
Verdi: Ave Maria from Otello
Mozart: Misera, dove son! – Ah! non son io che parlo
Mozart: Symphony No.27 in G major
Mozart: Che sa
Sydney, City Recital Hall : 18 April 7pm
Sydney, City Recital Hall : 20 April 1.30pm
Melbourne, Arts Centre Melbourne – Hamer Hall : 22 April 2.30pm
Sydney, City Recital Hall : 24 April 8pm