Eglise Gutiérrez is something of a big deal on the coloratura scene.
A soprano with a powerful voice and strong technique, she has taken on some of the standard roles in the repertoire (“Lucia di Lammermoor,” “La Sonnambula” and, next month, “I Capuleti e I Montecchi”), but also its rarities, most notably Donizetti’s “Maria di Rohan” for Ireland’s Wexford Festival Opera in 2006, and the same composer’s “Linda di Chamounix” for Covent Garden in 2009 (Opera Rara released a disc last year compiled from these performances).
The Havana-born, Miami-raised and Philadelphia-trained singer has long been a favorite with South Florida audiences, and was seen most recently as Lucia for Florida Grand Opera in 2010, followed by a concert in April 2011 with the Miami Symphony Orchestra. She returns to her old home base this Saturday night for a solo recital at Gusman Hall as the season closer of the Miami Civic Music Association series.
She’ll be accompanied by pianist Elaine Rinaldi, whose Orchestra Miami is sponsoring the concert in cooperation with the Civic Music Association.
“It’s one of the most difficult things you can do as a singer, at least for myself, to do a solo recital,” Gutiérrez said. “You are by yourself, everything is very naked. And my repertoire is usually difficult, and I always want to challenge myself by doing new things. It’s very, very difficult, but at the same time, very special.”
Gutiérrez’s program is a mix of showpieces ― “Oh, quante volte,” from “I Capuleti”; Belgian composer Eva Dell’Acqua’s “Villanelle”; and “Ombre légère,” from Meyerbeer’s “Dinorah” ― and art song, including Fauré’s deathless “Après un rêve,” Reynaldo Hahn’s “L’heure exquise,” and four songs by Spain’s Enrique Granados.
And the recital opens with two arias from the Italian operas of George Frideric Handel: “Piangeró la sorte mia,” from “Giuilio Cesare,” and “Tornani a vagheggiar,” from “Alcina.” Both follow the Baroque opera convention in being a vehicle for vocal display, and Gutiérrez said she’s been working on her ornamentation.
“I’ve always loved Handel and Bach,” she said of Baroque music. “I really want to do, in the future, Cleopatra in ‘Giulio Cesare.’ I love this role, but I haven’t had the chance to do it.”
In addition to the Faure and Hahn, Gutiérrez has chosen two of the better-known songs by Rachmaninov: “Ne poi, krasavitsa (Op. 4, No. 4),” and “Zdes khorosho” (Op. 21, No. 7). These are very beautiful songs about lost love, in the first instance, and happiness in nature, in the second. These songs have become popular with some of the best-known leading sopranos, including Renee Fleming and Anna Netrebko.
“I usually include in my recitals something by a Russian composer, and of course, I love Rachmaninov,” she said.
After the Bellini aria, which opens the second half, the rest of the concert is devoted to music from Spain and Cuba. It’s important for Miami audiences that she sing Spanish-language music, she said.
“I always bring Cuban music everywhere I go in recital, because it’s my music,” she said. “And I want to bring, in a very, very high-class presentation, a representation of what Cuban music is about. I’m in Miami, and it’s very important. My audience always expects it.”
In addition to the Granados, she’ll sing the “Canción de la paloma,” from Barbieri’s zarzuela “El barberillo de Lavapiés,” and close with five songs by Cuban composers. Inevitably, that means Ernesto Lecuona, represented here by “Mi vida eres tú.” She’ll also perform three songs by Eduardo Sanchez de Fuentes ― “La niña de Guatemala,” “La volanta,” and “Corazón” – and finish with Gonzalo Roig’s “El clarín.”
Things are looking bright for Gutiérrez, who’s booked through the early months of 2014, when she’ll do the Fairy in Massenet’s “Cendrillon” for the Teatro Liceu in Barcelona, and “Lucia” for France’s Opera Marseille.
She adds that her life has been changed immeasurably for the better with the birth of her daughter, Lucia. Gutierrez said she named her baby – who turns 2 on Sept. 28, Gutiérrez’s own birthday ― after the Donizetti heroine not just because it was obvious, but because it was during the last performance of “Lucia“ that she sang with Florida Grand Opera that she learned she was pregnant.
And that wasn’t all. She had to sing “Lucia” for the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, starring with the prominent French tenor Roberto Alagna, at three months along, and when she was seven months pregnant, she was singing the opera again at the Savolinna Festival in Finland.
“It was quite an experience. I don’t think I’ll do that again,” she said, laughing. “And after my delivery, my first engagement was with Vancouver Opera ― in ‘Lucia.’”
The recital is set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Gusman Hall on the campus of the University of Miami in Coral Gables. Tickets range from $20 to $50; call 800-838-3006 or visit www.orchestramiami.org or BrownPaperTickets.com.