San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican diva and husband light up National Theater

If there were any low notes, they were only literal ones, and even those were in scant supply. Costa Rica´ internationally renowned soprano, Iride Martínez, alongside her husband, Austrian pianist Siegmund Weinmeister, gave an elevated concert on the closing weekend of the 18th Credomatic Music Festival at San José´s National Theater on Saturday evening.

Martínez lost no time and opened with Rosina´s “Una voce poco fa” aria from Rossini´s Barber of Seville, her commanding voice surely carrying to the foyer to include any late arrivals still waiting to be seated in the production.

She continued through with Bellini´s Sei ariette da camera (six chamber arias) and the “Regnava nel silenzio” aria from Donizetti´s Lucia di Lammermoor opera. While not the famous “mad scene” from the opera, the performance by Martínez – who often trembled during her delivery – was arresting all the same.

After the intermission, Martínez broke from the all-Italian first half of the program by delving into Russian with a Rimsky-Korsakov aria, hitting some startlingly lofty notes under the often arduous Slavic language with apparent ease. She followed next with Handel and then Donizetti again, closing with a triumphant rendition of the “Je veux vivre” aria of Gounod´s Romeo and Juliet.

While fully able in all the pieces, the Italian pieces were clearly her forte, not only technically, but also for her exquisite expression in the language, even down to the typical Italian gesticulations. Martínez, who originally started out pursuing a career in theater, embraced the dramatic elements as much as the musical, and her lithe but strong delivery enabled a full range of emotion.

Weinmeister´s accompaniment was a solid complement to, but never overshadowed, Martínez´ performance, which one imagines could well be indicative of the twosome´s marital collaboration, too.

In one encore, Martínez brought out one of her Tica protégés, Laura Corrales, for a duet, introducing her by saying warmly, “The student must surpass the master.” Corrales might well live up to that, but that still would be no easy task, as her teacher has set the bar plenty high.

Don´t miss the printed August 22 Weekend Edition of The Tico Times for an interview with Iride Martínez.

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