Dream with Me concert starring Jackie Evancho singing 2011 at the Ringling Estate in Sarasota, Florida. Produced by David Foster; orchestra conducted by Chris Walden; directed for TV by David Horn and Jochem van der Saag. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade B-
Well folks, we know that Dream with Me is a David Foster glittersicle, not a classical music recording. But out of 15 songs , it does have 3 cross-over opera arias: the Handel "Ombra mai fu," the Puccini "O mi babbino caro," and "Nessun dorma." So we use this as a bootstap to include the recording on our website: this we do in fervent hope that Jackie will turn out more like Anna Netrebko than Amy Weinhouse.
In case none of this makes sense to you, let me backstory. Jackie Evancho is a beautiful blond 11-year old girl who also happens to be a child-prodigy singer. She's already made a big splash in the U.S. on talent shows and public television. Dream with Me is her first album. She has an astonishingly lovely, mature, and able voice, especially for one so young. She also has tons of stage presence and appears to be as sincere, clean-run, and well-groomed as anyone could image.
Be warned: the setting for this HDVD is the Ringling Estate (the circus genius) in Sarasota, Florida. This presented the producers with a problem. How do you have a darling 11-year old girl perform on a stage right in front of a huge replica of the nude and anatomically correct Michaelangelo David statute? Answer: do it at night and figleaf the statute with an artfully cast shadow that blackens out anything provocative in the arrangement. And after the show distract the audience further with fireworks in the background.
I hasten to say that the symphony orchestra, costumes, guest artists, and ceremonies conducted by Foster as Master were a cut above the taste displayed in the setting. And yes, there is a Rubens Room (used for one of the songs) in the Ringling Art Museum (a separate building from the collection of clown costumes and the Big Bertha that used to shoot human cannonballs). So none of this is criticism of Jackie or Foster: showing a Kingdom of Kitsch is what you have to do in the U.S. to promote the fine arts on Public Television.
Now back to Jackie's singing for a moment. The stingy, picky, crabby L'OperaDou jury already reviewed Dream with Me, and they gave her an "A" for singing ability (before knocking the final grade down to "B-" for the tacky venue). Jackie sounds wonderful to me too. But I did at the end have the odd feeling that I had just heard 15 variations of the same song. That's because Jackie's a kid trying always to be as earnest and sweet as possible. But I bet she will also be a good actress. If she trains for opera, she will learn fast how to express the personalities of the opera characters in her delivery. Then she will be great. I pray this will happen and that I live long enough to brag: "I've been following Evancho since she was 11."