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Lessons from a rising star: Kiera Duffy takes on The Metropolis Ensemble challenge
by Elisabeth Avery for Vocal Area Network
Posted April 6, 2008

Kiera Duffy (photo by Steven Laxton)The young singer's dilemma:  Two vastly different works: Esa-Pekka Salonen's Five Images After Sappho and Ravel's Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé. One, a contemporary piece, that floats on the upper end of the scale, fractured by wild harmonic leaps and buzzing syncopations, its fragmentary text still unexplained by the best of scholars. The other, a wisp of pre-WWI symbolist textural smoke propelling a voluptuous mezzo sensibility aloft on an inscrutable text, exhaling an ultimately restrained expression of longing, supplication and agony. Both masterpieces of undeniable beauty, demanding a mature vocal virtuosity. Underscore them with an instrumental ensemble comprising New York's finest young musicians, all known for their soloistic brilliance.

This is the dilemma devoutly to be wished by any up-and-coming singer. But, how does one meet the technical demands of idiosyncratic pieces such as these? We asked soprano Kiera Duffy.