Screen ~ Blinded

In response to the Daily Post writing prompt Screen

Last night the Symphony offered us an interesting program. Surprisingly the main piece was presented during the first half, something that left most of us in the audience wondering. Somewhat disgruntled, most of us discussed the issue before the night started. That and the fact that the programs we were handed didn’t provide any information about the soloists who would be bringing to life a certain Ms. Walters’ International Premiere of Daily delights. How did the Symphony staff sell that piece with so little information about it, I’m left to wonder, but the auditorium was full. Most of us came for the first part I imagine. And what a surprise we were in for?

Needless to introduce you to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, one that invites us to imagine ourselves in the middle of the countryside and observe nature around us. It was beautifully played, the Maestro going back to the original writing of the symphony and doing it in a very good way. It was nicely done and the orchestra worked it well. Our Maestro is great at what he does, and this was one of the best performances of the Sixth I’ve heard. Still the piece de resistance isn’t the Symphony and it’s sad that some concert goers decided to leave at the intermission. They missed the introduction of a musical genius on the international stage.

One voice rose behind the curtains; soft at first, as if it were muffled by the screen of white silk. Soft as it was meant to be for this piece. At least according to the partition I had in my hands. The voice teased and seduced in its low tones of alto and soft harmonies. For a long moment it invited its listeners to relax and enjoy, like a lover offering a glass of wine to its significant other. The bouquet of the wine seemed to permeate the atmosphere, heavy and heady. And then a silence, like a question that left the audience gasping, wondering.

Then an answer came a higher voice – louder but no less seductive. It purred almost and called to attention. As the song rose higher, the voice remained warm and poised, the sound that mezzo soprano mastered so well. And the mezzo brought pleasure, like a beautiful meal that is best served with love and wine. One could almost taste the meat, medium rare as the French like it. Some in the audience might as well have been drooling.

The finale would come fortissimo in the high notes of a coloratura. A dessert, an orgasm of sort that would leave the audience gasping for more, or for release. They wouldn’t know. Love at its paroxysm, at its peak. Ice melting in our hands and warming the skin at the same time. That edge between fire and ice, between release and want. Bringing the story to its conclusion in a sigh of pleasure, the soprano granted the audience the end they desired.

And throughout the curtain hadn’t risen. Blinded to the voices that transported them, the audience rose as one man, applauding wildly, whistling as wasn’t the customary attitude at the opera. Yet who would blame them? This new creation was absolutely phenomenal.

When eventually the curtains were lifted, silence fell over the audience. It was awed, as wild in its texture as the applause was seconds before. On stage stood not three women but one… And as her face turned to her listeners, it was obvious she was blind. Given a microphone Ms. Walters introduced herself. Not only did she compose, she performed. And she spoke in a voice as soft as her alto was at first. Sounds didn’t need eyes and sometimes being blind helps us hear, smell, touch and taste better. She hoped they’d enjoy the performance.

The fact that she had to give three encores – although far less impressive but no less beautiful than the first – must have convinced her we were.
Where does she get her range from? Hard to say but Ms. Walters is carrying us to a different world with her voice. She’s inviting us into a world of sensations, touches, smells and sounds. We forgot our eyes as she helped us imagine a life where sight isn’t a given.
If you have the chance, do go to the Symphony this Saturday as it will be her second and last performance in our city. Unless you want to travel to Japan where she will be performing next, buy a ticket. In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that Ms. Walters’ performance is last in the program for she definitely pulled a showstopper and that isn’t an easy feat in the strict and severe world of lyrical singing.

Felicia Leonard for the Tribune



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