Thursday, December 10, 2009

Julia Migenes' Holiday Concert at Upright Cabaret

The unequalled Julia Migenes brought her holiday show Julia Migenes' Holiday Magic from Bach to Pop! to the Upright Cabaret on Vermont St in Hollywood Sunday December 20; this diva could sing the phone book and I'd show up! Dressed in black velvet and quoting from Stephen Nissenbaum's book The Battle for Christmas (1997), Migenes was nothing less than enchanting on both sophisticated and pure entertainment levels, as she made her way through close to 25 tunes from Mozart's "Laudate Dominum" to Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song".

She made the evening seem like a friendly sojourn in her living room, with chat, mirth and song. She filled the one hour set with interesting cultural tidbits of how Christmas, as we know it, came to be, stories about her impoverished childhood Christmas and her daughter's more opulent one years later in Vienna - and of course, the glorious music into which she passionately immerses herself, like Mozart's "Ave Verum", Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", "Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen" ("Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"), and German versions of "O' Tannenbaum" and "Silent Night". Victoria Kirsh accompanied Migenes in the first half hour and David Herrera in the second, which took on a much lighter, more frivolous tone. Yes, there were some carols like "The First Noel", "We Three Kings" and "Deck the Halls", but then mama Migenes really got down with "How Shall I Send Thee?" a la Tina Turner, "The 12 Days of Christmas" and the piece de resistance, a meticulously sultry "Santa Baby" that would make even Eartha Kitt sit up and take notice. There is no funnier image than Migenes in angel attire replete with wings and halo nor the puny, bare Christmas bush onstage that she claims to reuse every year, stating "Freud would find it curious!"

The beautiful part of Julia Migenes, apart from her musical passion and her tremendous range - she can do it all- is her uncanny warmth with an audience. She simply glows ...and possesses that rare quality of being able to transform even the most sceptical to a better appreciation of the classics.

This was one Christmas concert for the books, certainly a stretch for Upright Cabaret: totally diverse, enlightening, uplifting and unforgettable. Julia Migenes is a knockout in every musical venue.


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