Soprano Nell Snaidas, who has starred in The Phantom of the Opera and collaborated with Alicia Keys, may not seem like the most intuitive choice for a Dallas Bach program. However, Baroque music is her true specialty, and it shows. Snaidas’s vibrato is sparing, and her warm voice is appealing without it, while her ornamentation is thoughtful and appropriate to the period.
One surprise: many of the songs on the program were not Baroque at all, but earlier, from the Renaissance. Another surprise: there were several deviations from the printed program, some delightful (an added song by Monteverdi) and some disappointing (the omission of a song by Scarlatti).
Snaidas navigated 150 years of music with panache Friday night, accompanied by Dallas Bach Society Music Director James Richman on harpsichord. She skillfully adapted her voice to the home environment, never over-projecting, over-emoting, or over-acting. She shared the subjects of the songs with audience members beforehand, and then did act out bits of the song (useful for those of us whose Italian and Spanish aren’t up to par, and engaging for all listeners). Snaidas occasionally accompanied herself on the Renaissance guitar, which looks like (and is, according to Snaidas) a closer relative to the modern ukulele than the contemporary classical guitar.
In addition to the delightful music Snaidas and Richman performed, the other offerings at this concert were excellent. Valet parking is always on offer, the home is lovely, each guest is personally welcomed by a DBS staffer or board member, and nametags help foster conversation and community among the concertgoers.
And then there is the food.
At the Flower Mound concerts, hosted by board members Michael Matthews and Kyle Mistrot, the food and drink are consistently exceptional. Matthews and Mistrot offer a full bar, but also on this chilly winter evening offered warm Glühwein as guests arrived and White Russians during intermission. Matthews, a talented chef, eschews a caterer for events at his home, preparing delicious food himself. In addition to a cheese and charcuterie board, Mattthews prepared several delicious appetizers, brought around on trays. He offered a polenta station with a selection of several sauces, and then, at intermission, he served coffee, homemade cheesecake with blueberry sauce, and flourless chocolate cake.
I sampled (read: ate an entire slice of) both the cheesecake and the chocolate cake. I knew TheaterJones readers needed an evaluation of both desserts, so I made the sacrifice. Conclusion: they were both absolutely delicious.
It is uncommon these days to have the opportunity to enjoy chamber music in a truly intimate setting. House concerts allow us to do just that, and Dallas Bach Society’s concerts are truly a treasure of the DFW arts scene, whether the featured musicians are local or brought in for the occasion. Friday’s concert with Nell Snaidas was no exception.