Karita Mattila accompanied by Martin Katz at Carnegie Hall. Photo Credit: Ian Douglas.

If you think classical music is boring, you’re in for a big surprise…

I went to Carnegie Hall to see Karita Mattila, the famous Finnish soprano, sing in a concert.  The hall was beautiful — velvet seats, walls like a gilded shell, and outstanding acoustics.

I was impatient to hear her – I’m choosey about my taste in music, I do not just listen to anything.

She finally stepped on stage with her pianist, Martin Katz, to a tidal wave of applause. Katz sat at the piano, his hand readying for the first note.  Mattila opened her mouth — and sang a haunting song in French.  Her voice was delicate, smooth, but with hidden strength.  It was rich, and sweet, and she used a good, healthy technique.  Her pianist was very talented, too. I’ve noticed in concerts that the pianist never gets as much recognition as the singer, and just think of it!  What would a classical singer sound like without any accompaniment? It would just sound… awkward.

Mattila’s pitch was perfect, and the melody seemed to flow easily from her.  When Mattila sang, a tsunami of emotion came through her eyes, and though I hardly understand French, she illustrated the songs with her voice and body, making it understandable.

The translations of the songs in the program were gorgeous and lyrical — they actually were old poems with music composed just for them.  They talked about love, some about death, still others about travel and happiness, and one that was particularly poetic was called ‘The Death of the Lovers‘.  It filled my mind with images and made me want to sing along. She then sang some songs in her native tongue — slow, sweet, sleepy songs about the night, and dreams, things of that theme, followed by some lively arias in German.

Mattila’s performance would be a very good introduction to classical music, and I would gladly listen to her hypnotizing singing again.