Kallen Esperian performs in Guerry Auditorium. Photo by Robert Mohr (C’21).
By Robert Mohr
World-renowned singer and artist-in-residence Kallen Esperian brought her vocal talents to center stage in Guerry Auditorium recently. Performing alongside pianist Dr. Gary Beard, Esperian performed a variety of songs spanning the last 300 years.
Classics like the ever-recognizable “Habanera,” from George Bizet’s Carmen, were paired with modern works such as “Love Changes Everything” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1989 musical, Aspects of Love, a song which she had not heard until she began working with Beard.
Other classic works performed include Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and Giacomo Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro,” which comes from his 1917 opera, Gianni Schicchi. On the modern side, Irving Berlin’s 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun, was represented by the song “They Say It’s Wonderful,” while “Days of Wine and Roses” the theme to the 1962 film of the same name, was also performed.
Esperian, originally from Illinois and a Tennessee resident since 1982, is best known for her role as part of “The Three Sopranos,” a Tibor Rudas project created in response to the success of his supergroup, “The Three Tenors.”
Esperian is the only member of that group to sing individually with each of The Three Tenors, one of whom was the late Luciano Pavarotti, who sponsored the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition that brought her to the world stage. Esperian has had a leading role at opera houses in cities around the globe, such as Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Munich, Buenos Aires, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
Her performance in Giuseppe Verdi’s 1849 opera, Luisa Miller, holds a venue record at La Scala in Milan for the most curtain calls. She has performed for political figures such as former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam; George, Barbara, and Laura Bush; Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana.
Beard debuted professionally at age 14 and has served as an organist, pianist, conductor, and tenor soloist all over the world. He has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Notre Dame Cathedral. He has released 19 albums and is a recipient of the Germantown Arts Alliance Arts and Humanities Award.
Cullen Gazzola (C’20) enjoyed the show, saying, “Kallen’s voice and presentation exemplify what it means to be ‘dynamic.’”