I love the philosophy of song recitals: just you, your accompanist and the composer fusing to come together as (one hopes!) a coherent, expressive and trascendent musical whole. "Pure" music, without the trappings of costume, the multitude of musical opinions in the orchestra as many strive to become one... it's in many ways the apogee of singing to express at such a simple and heartfelt level.
Achieving this, however, has proved elusive. My last few recitals of the recent years have often seemed to be a triumph of will over circumstances, battling everything from externally-imposed repertoire restrictions to less rehearsal than I would have liked to unexpected traffic delays to inadequate pianos, perhaps culminating in the one where I passed out halfway through the performance, scheduling an impromptu intermission! (I'd been struck by a respiratory bug two weeks before and, while my voice was 100% fine and I was for sure fit to sing, somehow the exertion of the substantial vocalism in the program against still-sensitive sinuses was more taxing than I could have imagined and I fainted for the first and only time in my life... although thankfully I made it off the stage before I hit the floor!)
Yesterday, however, seemed touched by magic. Everything ran smoothly logistically (rare in our lives!) and we arrived in ample time, un-rushed, fed and ready to roll. The venue was organised and prepared for us. The piano was in tune (not always something you can rely on!). We had a brief but uneventful and entirely adequate warmup rehearsal. There was a competent page turner (my husband was playing for me - a rare chance for us to perform as a team onstage! - and was very grateful to have another pianist for the job since his recent experience with page turners has been poor) and every practical detail was exactly as one would have requested it to be.
And, for once, absolutely everything came together in front of the audience too, even better than in our rehearsals. No unexepcted little vocal glitches to be managed (the tiniest bit of extra phlegm - or a drying environment - can wreak havoc on a singer so it's rare not to have to do some kind of "crisis management" in performance, if only to find a place to clear your throat or swallow!), the tempi felt just right, and the music - as SHOULD be the case - flew along of its own accord, telling us what to do rather than the other way around.
A beyond satisfying afternoon that has restored my enthusiasm to do more of this "pure music" again; I think the key is perhaps to ensure that the banal logstics and mechanics are in place so that they don't take up too much mental bytage on the day, distracting from the musical concentration. Then again, that might be philosophy triumphing over reality again - we'll see how easily that can actually be implemented!