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The fifth selection, 'Varvara's Limericks and Dance' from Rodion Shchedrin's popular opera of 1961, Not Only Love, adds to the variety of this recital. The libretto by Vassily Katanyan deals with a love triangle on a Soviet collective farm. Varvara, the chairman, entertains her workers with a song which also reveals a great deal about her personal life. At the end of her piece we learn what has been troubling her. She sings that a man's infidelity is often taken lightly but when a woman does the same thing it is considered a serious betrayal.

Podles uses a rough-edged folk voice for much of this song which she sings in a decidedly Slavic style. She is a fine vocal actress and her unique voice has a tremendously varied tapestry of colors and enough weight to retain a rich sound even when the orchestra is barely audible in this modern, rather angular piece. She has an astounding range of dynamics which she puts to good use and she intones the notes of her deep lower register softly and poignantly to indicate the gnawing pain of loss.

Igor Stravinsky's Latin opera, Oedipus Rex, has a libretto by Jean Cocteau based on Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus. At the beginning of her aria, 'Nonn' erubescite', Jocasta rebukes the constantly arguing princes for their undignified behavior and she states her lack of faith in the oracles which warn her of disaster to come.

Podles uses her vocally commanding presence and a clear, forward sound to rebuke the princes. She employs dramatic chest tones and an occasional glottal attack in her denunciation of the oracles. Only at the end of this dramatic piece does she resume her usual effortless delivery.

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Copyright © 22 June 2003 Maria Nockin, Arizona, USA


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