March 13, 2012
A young mezzo-soprano whose voice is darkly complex and mysteriously soulful and who adds intense emphasis to every word of text sang six songs by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo on Thursday night at the AT&T Center Theatre. In one, a bee bites the lip of a sleeping shepherdess as if it were a rose, to the envy of a shy lover.
Laurie Rubin’s rich, toffee-thick tones conveyed not just the sense of touch of puffy rosy lips but also their exceptional redness.
It would hardly occur to a listener that Rodrigo had been blind. Nor might someone hearing Rubin’s new recording of the Rodrigo songs, say on the radio, suspect the mezzo is without sight. In recital, of course, that is obvious. Whether this makes her a different sort of singer than one who sees was the question posed by this short recital and equally short colloquium, which was organized by the noted USC neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and presented by the university at the theater inside the AT&T Center highrise in downtown L.A.
Rubin — who grew up in Encino and who, as a high school senior, won a Music Center Spotlight Award in 1997 –- has allowed herself to mature slowly. Her first major solo recital CD (on Bridge) is out this month. Her memoir will be published in the fall, and a recital tour will follow next year.