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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Discover Nathalie Stutzmann: contralto and conductor, master of emotional expression

By John Terauds on December 10, 2011

Simon Fowler photo

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that French singer Nathalie Stutzmann is the most remarkable contralto of our time.

She is a true contralto, not just a low mezzo. She has a mastery over vocal expression that few other singers possess. And she conducts her own orchestra while singing.

A control freak? Absolutely. But the results are truly amazing.

Stutzmann has a recent, all-Vivaldi opera compilation début disc out with Deutsche Grammophon — titled, oh so appropriately, Prima Donna — that says in music far more than what anyone can put into words.

The singer has largely stayed under the radar in North America, while building a highly respected career in Europe. She is 46 now, at the height of her vocal and creative powers, and I’ll bet anything that Manhattan will go crazy for her when they hear her sing in her début with the New York Philharmonic in next week’s performances of Handel’s Messiah.

Stutzmann founded her own orchestra, Orfeo 55, three years ago. Resident at the Arsénal de Metz in northeastern France, they perform with both period and modern instruments, depending on the repertoire. She is bringing it to North America on tour next season, so we’re likely to hear a lot more about this remarkable artist in the near future.

In the meantime, here is the promo video for Prima Donna, where Stutzmann explains how the all-Vivaldi programme allowed her to bring together “the most beautiful and most moving sentiments of human life.”

I also encourage you to listen to a free, high-definition stream of a fantastic concert Stutzmann and Orfeo 55 gave at the Cité de la musique in Paris three weeks ago available medici.tv (registration is painless, and it opens up a world of free and paid music content past and present). To watch, click here.

http://youtu.be/Vt0XU1mdsM8

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