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Jessye Fails To Pull It Off

September 9, 2010

A note on Jessye Norman's performance at the season opener for The San Francisco Symphony on Tuesday night: It left much to be desired.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus did a beautiful job of sustaining Aaron Copland's long ardent lines in the haunting a cappella choral work In The Beginning. But the soloist's effort was bumpy to say the least.There was no flow between Norman's upper and lower registers and she didn't sing the Biblical text as if she knew what it meant.

The jazz set of songs by Duke Ellington arranged for voice and orchestra by Patrick Russ was even more disappointing. Norman's voice sounded thin at the top and bellowing at the bottom. She hammed up the sentiment in all the songs, which included such standards as "Come Sunday," "Sophisticated Lady" and "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing.)" At a couple of points, Norman's voice cracked.

Maybe the singer is tired. Clearly she needs a break.

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