Classical music comes to the bayou at Viennese performance

Soprano Dorothy Slater
Soprano Dorothy Slater

Old Vienna meets Lafayette on the last day of May when “Lieder Abend in Wien” (An Evening of Songs in Vienna) will be performed at the First Baptist Church.

Austrian Christa DelFavro will showcase her love of classical Viennese songs in the Memorial Chapel with a late afternoon program of Viennese melodies featuring sopranos Dorothy Slater and Sasha Massey, baritone Frank Reeve and pianist Hanna Mayo. Listeners can expect the requisite, beloved Mozart, along with Franz Schubert, Alban Berg and Erich W. Korngold.

“It’s very hard to get opera singers in this area, and my purpose is for these singers to shine,” said DelFavro, who grew up listening to the classical songs of her culture and attended the Conservatory of Vienna. “I love music and hearing it.”

Massey is a Louisiana native with a bachelor of arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a concentration in vocal performance. She is a regular singer and soloist at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Lafayette, and appeared in Chorale Acadienne’s 2013 performance of Brahms’ Requiem.

She said that while people scramble in Europe to hear the new voices, such is not the case in Lafayette.

“It’s exciting promoting local artists who don’t often have the spotlight shine on them,” said Massey. “People here have really enthralling abilities yet have to go to the opposite end of the world to get recognition.”

The piece that appeals most to Massey is an aria, “Marrietta’s Lied” by Eric Korngold.

“It’s just so sweeping and gorgeous, it’s unreal,” she said. “It develops your technique and is really rewarding.”

Massey also feels strongly about Alban Berg’s music, calling it compact and passionate.

Slater has been part of many opera productions and scene recitals, and has also performed in numerous solo recitals.

She has also has worked with several figures in the vocal music world, including Carl Ratner, Emily Pulley, Martin Katz and Samuel Ramey, of the Metropolitan Opera. She has recently moved to Lafayette and is pursuing her doctorate at UL-Lafayette.

Although both Massey and Slater are classically trained opera singers, there’s no hint of diva.

“Dorothy is amazing, her voice is so powerful it could pull a vehicle,” said Massey. “It reminds me of Maria Callas. Mine is focused and has its sultry moments, but hers is enormous and she makes it look so effortless. But be careful if you’re standing in front of her,” she added with a laugh.

Accompanist Hanna Mayo holds a bachelor’s degree in music piano pedagogy and a master of music degree in piano performance from UL-Lafayette. Baritone Frank Reeve is the music director at First Baptist and will be performing as well.