Jenny, We’ve Got Your Number

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Music cricic Lindsay Koob writes:

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt, Spoleto’s choral director, by phone recently for the City Paper. In the course of our conversation, the person he spoke most warmly about is Jennifer Larmore, the superstar mezzo-soprano who will grace this year’s big choral-orchestral concert on June 5.

Larmore is actually a Westminster Choir College grad, and one of Flummerfelt’s many famous protégés. She’s performed here as a choir member in Spoletos past.

Apparently Flummerfelt has built this concert around her: She (along with Romeo & Juliet lead Nicole Cabell) will take on the soprano solos of Mozart’s glorious Mass in C Minor. Larmore will handle the tricky soprano II part that was first sung by his talented wife Constanze (it was also his wedding gift to her; even so, he never finished it). She’ll also lend her golden voice to Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, with male chorus -– as well as a pair of arias by Bellini and Rossini that will show off the florid bel-canto stylings that she’s famous for.

You can probably name several mega-artists who got their starts here, but we don’t see much of them anymore at Spoleto. Their globe-hopping schedules got too full and their fees went through the roof. But every now and then, we still get lucky. Big name soprano Renee Fleming returned a half-dozen Spoletos ago to give us a gala “thank-you” recital, years after an appearance here helped catapult her into the limelight. Violin legend Joshua Bell came back just last year to help celebrate Charles Wadsworth’s 75th birthday gala.

Somehow I wasn’t too surprised when Dr. Flummerfelt told me that Larmore is doing very much the same sort of thing this year, joining us to perform a demanding program for a small fraction of the usual fee she commands.

So here’s to the A-list artists out there who still can be enticed to perform with motivations more lofty than filthy lucre.

Larmore’s inspirations no doubt include her recollections of warm hospitality in a special city, as well as her bonds to the institution and mentor that nurtured her musical gifts and prodded her down to road to stardom. Plus, of course, the chance to perform great music in some pretty classy company. But whatever her reasons for coming back, the good fortune is mostly yours and mine. -LK

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