“The Tucson Desert Song Festival wrapped up its first weekend Sunday with two performances right across the plaza from one another at the Tucson Convention Center campus . . . The Tucson Symphony Orchestra featured another trio of rising vocalists — sopranos Katie van Kooten and Hye Jung Lee and mezzo Angela Brower — performing three scenes including the “Presentation of the Rose” and the final trio from Strauss’s opera “Der Rosenkavalier. The orchestra also shined a light on the TSO Chorus in the concert’s first half, performing Poulenc’s “Gloria,” featuring Hye Jung as the soloist . . .
Arguably, “Rosenkavalier” is one of the highlights of the third annual Desert Song Festival. And the TSO was blessed with three spectacular soloists, including Arizona native Brower making her home state debut. To miss them would’ve been a shame . . .
“Der Rosenkavalier” in the second half, though, was likely the reason for many of the nearly 1,400 people in the audience to be at Tucson Music Hall rather than Leo Rich — or perhaps a sports bar watching the NFC Championship game with Green Bay and Seattle. (Seattle won in OT, by the way.) And they were rewarded generously by the performances of the three wonderful soloists who did not merely sing but acted out their roles. Brower was the most expressive, showing off wonderful acting chops in the pants role of Octavian, the much younger lover of Princess Marie Therese von Werdenberg (von Kooten). Brower has a powerful voice that resonates at the higher range and sparkles in her comfort zone. She easily projected above von Kooten in the opening scene where both confess their love while nervously waiting to be exposed by the princess’s husband. Brower affected a schoolboy bravado with a few simple facial expressions, then paced about nervously — hiding behind von Kooten at one point — to make you feel like she and the affair were indeed about to be discovered.” -Arizona Daily Star