Diva on Detour

Photo by Scott Wall

Most people know soprano Patricia Racette as one of the reigning operatic divas of our time. She appears around the world singing signature roles like Jenufa, Madama Butterfly Violetta, Desdemona, Tatyana, Liu and Micaela – to name just a few.

With such a career in the opera house, it might surprise many to hear that she is currently engaged in a project recording cabaret songs in a live studio setting. The CD, which will be titled Diva on Detour, will be released on the GPR label later this spring. With songs by Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Edith Piaf and many others, she has chosen a mix that draws a laugh one moment and a tear the next. Accompanied by the marvelous pianist, Craig Terry, this duo been performing together for several years, and the familiarity they share is evident throughout.

I heard one of the sessions and was astounded by Ms. Racette’s capacity to live every word, every note of the songs in a way that was dramatic and communicative yet completely in the style of American Popular Song. She was careful to color her voice to the genre, avoiding vocal placements appropriate to opera but which would fail miserably in this particular music. At times I could have been listening to a singer in a darkened club setting, but where the average crooner leaves me wanting more depth of experience, this artist delivered all of the emotional goods. Patricia Racette takes her expressive skills from the world of opera and applies them to the cabaret repertoire with a result that is, in a word, magical. She has an amazing capacity to take her listeners well beyond what we think we know about a familiar tune – turning a tin can alley ditty into a veritable map of the soul.

This isn’t a cross over album. Rather than hearing a famous soprano trying to sing popular songs, you’ll hear a great artist who has a range of expression far wider than most of us might expect.

You can preorder this album on GPRrecords.com. I know that, at least for me, Patricia Racette and Craig Terry just made my gift shopping for this year a LOT easier.

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  1. Jeff Spenner says

    Thanks for letting us know about this album! I’ll have to check it out. It reminds me of the opera singer Sylvia McNair and her semi-recent foray into American Songbook works and the like.

    I think such artistic ventures (“crossover”, as you mentioned, doesn’t really begin to describe what this actually is, and indeed stigmatizes the very act in the eyes and ears of the purists…I.e., “snobs”) are wonderful! It’s fantastic to listen to great artists bring their level of musicality to all types of music, no matter the genre or whatever sphere they typically operate in. I’m currently obsessed with the Tony Bennett / Lady Gaga duet of “The Lady Is a Tramp”, for example, or the great work that Yo Yo Ma does with his Silk Road projects. It truly breaks down barriers between audiences, or at the very least puts a fresh perspective on things!

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