When soprano Alessandra Marc begins to sing, the first thing you notice is the size and power of her voice. But once you've heard her awhile, you also notice how she controls that voice to produce many shades of dynamics and feelings.
Marc, who in the past two years has debuted in Europe and in such American opera houses as the Metropolitan, offered an impressive program Sunday night at the National Gallery of Art. Her dramatic talents allowed her to capture the ambivalence of Beethoven's "Ah! perfido," Op. 65, in which the singer first condemns and then tenderly addresses her faithless lover. In Schumann's "Waldesgesprach," Op. 39, No. 3, she used different voices to sing the dialogue of the two characters who meet mysteriously in a dark wood.
Marc's controlled dynamics brought to life her interpretation of Strauss lieder. In "Wiegenlied," Op. 41, No. 1, she spun a beautifully tender lullaby, and in "Morgen," Op. 27, No. 4, her delicate pianissimo phrasings were breathtaking. Marc also met the dynamic demands of Henri Duparc's romantic songs. In "Extase" and "Phidyle," she began languidly, built to dramatic climaxes with stunning high notes and then slowly receded into calm.
Engaging in a playful interchange with her skilled accompanist, David Triestram, Marc sang Xavier Montsalvatge's "Cuba dentro un piano" with tongue in cheek. In other Montsalvatge songs, she showed rhythmic flair and produced notes in the lower register with more strength than in the Strauss and Beethoven pieces.