By any criteria Lorina Gore is a STAR. Whether wowing audiences on the stage of the Sydney Opera House starring in productions of La Traviata and La Boheme, winning prestigious Helpmann Awards for her performances in esoteric productions like King Roger and Hamlet, or simply singing her heart out and bringing her audience to tears with her exquisite rendition of Arlen/Harburg classic Over the Rainbow (Yes, you read right, Over the Rainbow) in her recital for a large and appreciative audience in Gandel Hall, Gore exudes an indefinable star quality in spades.
Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Artist in Focus for 2021, Lorina Gore, has forged a glittering operatic career, but for this recital she chose an impeccable selection of songs which included a couple of operatic arias, but also testing art songs, sentimental parlour songs, some operetta and musical theatre, a folk song, and yes, the aforementioned Over The Rainbow.
Sporting the first of two glamorous recital gowns, Gore opened her program with Poulenc’s lovely Les chemins de l’amour, which she dedicated to one of her early singing teachers, Pat Davey, who she explained had recently died at the age of 99. A gesture much appreciated by her audience, many to whom Pat Davey had been a treasured friend and for whom the lyrics, “You are no more and your echoes are muted” were particularly appropriate and poignant.
Relaxed and confident, and drawing on her not inconsiderable acting skills and impeccable stage craft, Gore continued her program with an aria from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and a dramatic interpretation of the Schubert art song Gretchen am Spinnrade which she translated as Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel.
She introduced both with concise and informative explanations, sensibly using a microphone, which she explained was to save her voice for the songs, and both of which were greeted with sustained applause. Gore completed the first half of her recital with the lovely Meine Lippen from the Lehar operetta Giuditta which she translated as My Lips Are Very Hot for Kissing, received no argument.
After a short interval, resplendent in a shimmering gold gown, Gore commenced the second half of her program with three parlour songs, displaying superb diction in Liza Lehmann’s playful There are fairies at the bottom of our garden, Amy Woodforde-Finden’s Kashmiri Song, and Stephen Foster’s Why, no one to love. The respect with which she presented each song was a compelling argument as to why these songs have remained so popular with audiences over the years.
Following two short, sparklingly executed, piano solos by Alan Hicks, Gore returned to Gounod, with Hereux petit berger from Mireille, then in full opera mode, a stunning rendition of The Jewel Song from his opera Faust. Of course there were encores, Lerner and Lowe’s I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, and finally, Over the Rainbow.
During the concert Gore paid tribute to her accompanist, Alan Hicks. The rapport between the two was obvious as they seemingly breathed together. Gore gives herself over to each song she sings and on this occasion, freed by the attentiveness of Hicks’ self-deprecating but brilliant accompaniment, obviously relished the opportunities it allowed her to explore every possible nuance. It was a joy to share.
Lorina Gore in Recital
Gandel Hall – National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Performance: Sunday 6 June 2021 – 2.00pm
Image: Alan Hicks and Lorina Gore – photo by Martin Ollmann
Review: Bill Stephens OAM