Stage presence is such an elusive quality that it seems almost magical at times. Some people – my father was one of them in his acting days – can be put down in the middle of a stage with nothing to do, and they still manage to look perfectly at home. The American Dramatic soprano, Heidi Melton, is such a person. When she walked onto the BSO stage to sing the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde this weekend, one couldn’t help but notice that she is not a slender woman and, when she perched on the edge of her chair, she looked quite uncomfortable – but only for a moment. Even though she had to sit there for a good while as the Prelude was played by the orchestra, she maintained a still intensity that was at one with the music, and almost seemed to contribute to it. When she eventually stood up to sing, she embodied the music in a way that was dramatic without drawing attention itself. This was even more marked when she was joined by (BSO Concertmaster, Jonathan Carney, look-alike!) tenor, Brandon Javonovich, and bass-baritone, Eric Owens, for Act I of Die Walküre. Even though it was a concert performance, her subtle acting was so heart-felt and genuine that Javonovich began to respond to her, even though he had seemed a little stiff beforehand. It was beautiful to watch – as well as to listen to.
Baltimore Symphony, Wagner