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Happy Error: The Week in Classical Music

The New York Times, May 25, 2018


I haven’t encountered much Poulenc in recent years, except for the farcical opera “Les Mamelles de Tiresias,” heard twice: at Tanglewood in 1997 and at the Juilliard School in 2015. I can’t say that I thought a lot about what I was missing, but I was forcibly reminded on Wednesday evening, by Sacred Music in a Sacred Space’s Poulenc program at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, just how delightful his best works are. Renée Anne Louprette played the Organ Concerto beautifully, and K. Scott Warren conducted St. Ignatius choirs in Poulenc’s crowning Gloria, with Wendy Baker as an excellent soprano soloist. The Gloria is heard here on YouTube, with Georges Prêtre conducting French forces. JAMES R. OESTREICH


Gala Concert and Gianni Schicchi March, 2009

Brooklyn Eagle, Nino Pantano


Soprano Wendy Baker and tenor Hector Palacio thrilled us with excerpts from Puccini’s La Boheme. Wendy Baker’s “Si, mi chiamino, Mimi” was touching with some lovely portamentos and exquisitely shaped lines.

Wendy Baker, in excellent voice, sang “O mio babbino caro” beautifully, her sumptuous soprano glowing and growing more beautifully with each endeavor. Baker was utterly captivating in this part and the audience showed its appreciation with a bevy of “bravas.”


Lucia di Lammermoor, November 2008

Brooklyn Eagle, Nino Pantano


In the title role, soprano Wendy Baker was an innovative and dramatic interpreter of a role too long defined solely for its coloratura stratospheric flights. Ms. Baker gave the role a more gothic and tragic edge of a broken hearted bride coerced by her brother into marrying a man she does not love. Ms. Baker’s Act One, “Regnava nel silencio” was sung with sweetness and innocence, with a nice swell on the high notes and a pleasant round quality. Her love duet with Edgardo was beautifully done.

Ms. Baker excluded some of those optional stratospheric high notes one is used to hearing, and wisely concentrated on Lucia’s psychological destruction by skillful use of her secure darker middle and lower range. When Ms. Baker chose the optional high notes as in the end of the famed sextet in Act Two, “Che mi frena in tal momento” the results were thrilling.

The mad scene was absolutely riveting! The glazed look in Lucia’s eyes, her blood soaked wedding gown and Ms. Baker’s strong acting skills made this scene a feast for the soul as well as the eye and ear.

Beginning with “Oh! Giusto cielo”, the combination of her vocal flexibility, fine fioritura, and intense emotion made Lucia’s mad scene an extraordinary theatrical event and one of those “savor the moment” experiences.