Meredith Arwady

Meredith Arwady Adelaide Festival 2024Adelaide Festival. In recital with Michael Ierace. Daylight Express. Elder Hall. 4 Mar 2024


I was not previously aware of Meredith Arwady as an artist, although I had previously heard her sing in the Grammy Award Winning recording of John Adam’s contemporary opera Doctor Atomic performed by the Metropolitan Opera. So, her recital with collaborative pianist Michel Ierace (Elder Conservatorium) in the Elder Hall as part of the Adelaide Festival’s Daylight Express series was a real eye (and ear) opener!


From the very first word of His Eye is on the Sparrow by Charles Gabriel, under which you can hear gasps of admiration from the audience, it is clear that you are in the presence of vocal greatness. Meredith Arwady is surely one of the world’s best contraltos, and she deserves every single one of her accolades, and more. Every song presented in her eclectic program references a bird, and she sings them all with passion, animation (voice and body – she is actress!), musicality, empathy, and acute understanding of the text. The joy and thirst for life she breathes into the songs stands in contrast to her bravura role in the Festival’s centrepiece production The Nightingale and Other Fables in which she plays Death!


Arwady’s program traverses a wide range of styles ranging from art songs, hymns, musical theatre, satire, folk songs, and spirituals, and she sings them with verve and confidence as she makes the stage her own. Of the fifteen songs she sang, perhaps only Somewhere Over The Rainbow (from The Wizard of Oz) was not entirely suited to the majestic resonance of her voice, but the large audience greeted her performance with a roar of appreciation.


Michael Ierace accompanied Arwady in all but one song, she sang the delightfully tongue-in-cheek American folk song The Leather-Winged Bat unaccompanied. Ierace is a fine pianist indeed and has the art of accompaniment well and truly at his command.


Meredith Arwady is a vocal force of nature. Don’t pass up an opportunity to hear her sing. Just don’t.


Kym Clayton


When: 4 Mar

Where: Elder Hall

Bookings: Closed