Young baritone serves notice of growing talent XTC

August 09, 1994|By Kenneth Meltzer | Kenneth Meltzer,Special to The Sun

On Saturday, Baltimore native Eric Greene offered a promising debut vocal recital at Morgan State University's Christian Center. Mr. Greene was accompanied by pianist Eric Conway, who throughout the program offered supportive work full of character.

Mr. Greene, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts and a third-year student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, is still in his early 20s. Therefore, his attractive lyric baritone is still in its formative stages. As is typical of young singers, Mr. Greene's lower notes tend to lack authority, and the upper register is not totally equal- ized. Still, there is already much to enjoy and perhaps even more that portends a successful career.

Mr. Greene's baritone, particularly in the middle register, possesses a silken beauty that immediately captivates his audience. His breath control is admirable, as is his reluctance to force the voice beyond its natural capacity. His seamless legato served the program's lyrical pieces most ably. Mr. Greene offered works in Italian, German and English, and in each, his diction was exemplary.

Mr. Greene excelled in works that emphasize lyric beauty over fiery declamation. He vocalized Salvatore Rosa's "Star vicino" effortlessly, with generous phrasing and accurate negotiation of melismatic passages. Likewise, Brahms' "Sonntag" and Schubert's "An Die Musik" were lovely, although the latter piece suffered from the weakness in the lower register previously noted.

The more overtly dramatic pieces did not fare as well. The Count Almaviva's solo from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" lacked pungency of attack in the recitatives and a sense of haughtiness in the aria. Mr. Greene sang Schubert's "Erlkonig" attractively but failed to offer differing characterizations for the father, his terrified child and the evil spirit who haunts him.

Still, the spirituals that closed the evening offered a quite different picture of Mr. Greene's dramatic potential. Each was sung with far greater freedom and involvement than the preceding work but without any sacrifice of tonal beauty. Indeed, it appears that the interpretive shortcomings in the earlier works may also be the product of Mr. Greene's relative youth and inexperience.

Based upon the evening's satisfying conclusion, there is good reason to believe that, in time, Eric Greene will mature as an artist and offer convincing interpretations of much of the lyric baritone repertoire. In the meantime, I look forward to charting the progress of this young talent.

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