By Katherine Kitt
Katherine Jenkins, the Welsh classical crossover Singer made her Café Carlyle debut this week with “Viva La Diva.” Complete with movie star looks, warm personality, and a fuller voice than some of her contemporaries, Ms. Jenkins arranged a varied set list. Music directed accompanied by Gerard Steichen, the show was tight and flowed effortlessly.
Most cabaret shows seem to consist of medleys and renditions of “11 o’clock” numbers, the performer wound up to full and belting voice. Thankfully, Ms. Jenkins knows her voice well and sings with consistent rounded tone and intonation. She especially knew when to pull back with microphone though, so as not to overpower with her abundance of sound.
Jenkins opened her set with a haunting rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Wearing a strapless blue evening dress, she appeared from the audience, microphone in hand, gradually taking the stage to sing the final note. She clearly knows her audience programmed the set with some ‘greatest hits.’ Favorites like Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Pie Jesu” and “All I Ask of You” (with guest vocalist Kyle Barisch) demonstrated Soprano Lite repertoire that can fill large halls, yet be scaled back in an intimate setting.
Café Carlyle doesn’t immediately come to mind as a venue for Jenkins’ voice, but it works. It helps soften her and her personality is quite endearing. The patter and playful banter director Steichen made the setting feel like being in their living room. She reminisced about being a new mom and the pain of her father’s death when she was fifteen, singing “O Sole Mio” as a touching tribute to him.
Jenkins persona highlights her “Diva” essence – truly characterized in her lush version of the “Habanera” from Carmen. However, she is able to sing sotto voce with minimal vibrato on pop tunes such as “She’s Got a Way” by Billy Joel. She also excitedly mentioned her invitation to sing at the Queen’s 90th Birthday, and sang the “World Anthem” as a sneak peak. The vocal highlight, hands down, was “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen, complete with the verse, which is the best part of the song. Jenkins honored the true notation of the song and sang it with beautiful tone.
It’s inspiring to hear a true legit singer at the Café Carlyle, for there does not seem to be enough of this type of singing without auto-tuning and belting. Jenkins has done a valuable service for young aspiring singers in that they can sing all types of repertoire with their voices. Perhaps some of this type of singing could even crack the billboard pop charts.
Of course, Jenkins closed her show with the trademark anthem, “Time to Say Goodbye” which she has performed as a duet with Andrew Bocelli on many occasions. Singing it as a solo, Jenkins alternated between the Italian and English lyrics effortlessly. It was a delightful ending to a well thought out and balanced program.
For more information about the Café Carlyle, click here.