UK soprano sings Shakespeare

When University of Kentucky soprano Amanda Balltrip started thinking about her masters recital, she looked to one of the masters … of theater. The opera singer’s program at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 18) in the Singletary Center for the Arts recital hall is made up of pieces based on the works of William Shakespeare, from traditional classical fare to the avant garde.

Amanda Balltrip. Photo by Phillips Mitchell

Amanda Balltrip. Photo by Phillips Mitchell

The centerpiece is Daughter of Capulet by Thomas Pasatieri. Balltrip says the composer gave the piece to her when he was in Lexington for the UK Opera Theatre’s production of his Hotel Casablanca in 2007.

“I have been looking forward to presenting this piece for several years,” Balltrip says of the work based on Romeo and Juliet. “Pasatieri describes The Daughter of Capulet as a monodrama, ‘the entire play through the scenes and words of Juliet.'”

Balltrip will also present composer Lee Hoiby’s Sonnets and Soliloquies with the Verdi String Quartet – violinists Kyle VonAlsdalen, Diogo Pimentel, violist Lubitza Braikova and cellist Geoffrey Hershberger – and Simon Emmerson’s Time Past IV.

“Time Past IV is without a doubt the most difficult piece I have ever faced as a musician, singer, performer,” Balltrip says. “The text is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30. It is written for soprano and tape. No piano, no string quartet–just soprano and an audio track composed of sputtering, spliced-up consonants on top of a continuous drone. There is no time or key signature, but the soprano is advised to use a stopwatch to keep an eye on the time to stay some-what in sync with the track.”

Balltrip said she initially determined she would never do a piece like it again, after performing it in a conference in Bogata, Columbia. But, “I learned from it. I grew from it, and it grew on me. As I was putting this recital together I was itching to present it again.”

The recital will be rounded out with works by Richard Strauss, Hector Berlioz and others. It is free and open to the public.

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