As part of her final number, the young singer went through some graceful, sensuous movements while the audience clapped in time to the music. The final note sounded to thunderous approval, the singer gave the pianist a kiss and, waving to a friend, swept off the stage.
Not the ordinary way to end a song recital, but Carmen Balthrop is no ordinary soprano. The Washington-born singer came home Saturday night to appear on the University Community Concerts series at the University of Maryland. When old friends pressed for something from "Treemonisha." Balthrop obligingly changed her program to end with two selections from the Scott Joplin opera whose revival in 1976 made her famous. Inviting the audience to clap along, the soprano was on home territory in more ways than one as she sang and moved to the infectious rhythms of the last song, "The Slow Drag."
Balthrop's rich, warm voice and vibrant presence make the senses tingle. She is also an intelligent singer who can shape a lovely phrase, as her Mozart aria demonstrated. Her projection of the sophisticated Henri DuParc songs was superb, a few French pronunciation problems excepted. Judging from the Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss selections, however, she has not yet come to terms with the German lieder tradition.
Pianist Mark Flint deserved his kiss for supporting the singer so ably throughout the program.