Julia Melbert’s senior recital takes place at VPAC

Katie Pryor
Assoc. Arts & Culture Editor

In Millersville University’s Music department, senior recitals are held in high regard because they give seniors the opportunity to display their musical talent and what they have learned in their time at Millersville. On Saturday, April 5, senior and mezzo-soprano Julia Melbert performed her senior recital in a Winter Center recital hall full of family, friends, and fellow Music majors.

Stepping out onto the stage in a bright red, one-shouldered gown, Melbert started her senior recital with a performance of “Silent Noon” by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams with accompaniment by Joan Allen on piano. Based on a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the song has the singer referring to a lost love and naturally contains romantic imagery in its lyrics.

Melbert’s next song was “Widmung” by German composer Robert Schumann. Meaning “dedication” in German, it is a song from the Romantic era about a bond between two people could never be broken. Not only did Melbert sing the song beautifully, but she also performed it well with her lovely hand gestures and facial expressions.

Julia Melbert sings in the Winter Center, performing her senior recital and capstone project for music majors.
Julia Melbert sings in the Winter Center, performing her senior recital and capstone project for music majors.

Performing yet another poem set to music as well as a German song from the Romantic era, Melbert sang “Wie Melodien zieht es mir” (“As melodies attract me”) by Johannes Brahms. The next song was “Che faro senza Euridice” (“What shall I do without Euridice”) by Christoph Willibald Gluck. The song is based on the Greek myth about a man named Orpheus who loses his love Euridice, and then rescues her from the Underworld.

However, he is advised not to look at her until they have both returned to Earth. When Euridice becomes upset that he refuses to look at her, Orpheus looks at her, only for her to die again. The song is an aria that tells of Orpheus mourning the loss of his love and wondering how he will live without her.

Melbert next performed “O del mio amato ben” (“Oh lost enchantment of my dearly beloved!”) by Italian composer Stefano Dunaudy, about a woman who is morning the loss of someone she loved. During this song, Melbert hit all the nuances and dynamics of the piece effortlessly and brought the melancholy beauty of the lyrics.

“Il segreto per esser felici” (“The secret to being happy”) by Italian composer Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was Melbert’s next piece. Much unlike her previous pieces, which were slow, somber pieces, this piece was much more upbeat, making it a refreshing change of pace for the recital.

During the song “Elegie” by French composer Jules Massenet and based on a poem by Louis Gallet, Melbert was accompanied by Allen on piano as well as Rachel Ficca on flute. The song itself is a melodic, moving piece about someone whose love has disappeared and all of life’s meaning with them. The two instruments brought the melancholy melody of the piece, and Melbert’s voice brought the emotion and grace.

Melbert’s next piece “Va! Laisse couler mes larmes” (“Go! Let my tears flow”) was also by Massenet and was featured in his opera “Werther”. “Werther” tells the tale of a traveling poet who falls in love with a woman named Charlotte, who is to be married to an older gentleman in order to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. Charlotte ultimately breaks her marriage vows and allows the poet Werther to continue writing to her. The song portrays Charlotte’s sadness over not being married to Werther.

The next song “L’âme évaporée”(The soul evaporated”) was by French composer Claude Debussy.

Melbert’s recital took a different and more modern turn with her last few songs. The first of which was “Adelaide’s Lament” by Frank Losesser from the musical “Guys and Dolls”. The song is about Adelaide, one of the characters in the musical who is reading a medical book and learns that her boyfriend’s failure to marry her has resulted in her getting a “chronic cold”. This song displayed Melbert’s lower register as well as her acting skills as she sat down in a chair looking through a book with a concerned, confused expression on her face and singing in a comically nasally voice, ending the song with her leaving out an acting sneeze.

The next song, the jazz standard “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” was accompanied by Klaudellsh Larieux on piano, Joseph Migliore on bass and Matthew Woodson on percussion, who are all part of the group Jazz Cats from the ‘Ville. With this song, Melbert continued to show her range and versatility as she sang this slow, classic jazz song about a woman feeling “bewitched, bothered and bewildered” by the womanizing nightclub owner she is having an affair with.

For Melbert’s last song, “Lullaby of Birdland”, she was joined by the rest of the Jazz Cats From the ‘Ville, R. Freddie Lewis on trumpet and Ran McGlashen on tenor sax, for a swinging closer for Melbert’s senior recital.

After she finished her final song, the audience gave Melbert a standing ovation. She thanked her friends and family for coming out to support her and, referring to the refreshments waiting outside in the VPAC lobby, said, “Let’s go eat!” Overally, Melbert proved to be a musically diverse performer and singer with her mix of Romantic operatic pieces and jazz pieces.