Marcella Calabi offers specialized recital programs designed to be as entertaining as they are enlightening and deeply informed. She speaks engagingly from the stage and invites questions and dialog (if the venue permits). She involves the audience in both heart and mind, immersing them in the joy she herself takes in varied music and varied languages from varied periods. Her approach is that each song tells a story, and each song is a chapter in a larger story at the same time.
“Children” – songs touching on children’s innocence yet reaching deep into the complexity of their experience. Includes the song cycle Children by Jeffrey Wood, songs of Copland, and Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915.
- “Bridge-Building Across the Atlantic” – the first fruit of a developing chamber-music relationship with colleagues in Italy, this program premieres songs by both Italian and American writers, and introduces American audiences to an awareness that bel canto had a formative influence on our “native” music in the middle of the 19th century. Placed side by side with Bellini, the Italianate nature of Stephen Foster’s ballads becomes clear.
- “Songs to Lighten a January Day“ – built around the themes of hope and light in mid-winter and encompassing contemporary American songs that reference winter, carefully arranged choices from Vaughan Williams settings of Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience for unaccompanied voice and oboe, and works by J.S. Bach, Granados, and Vivaldi. This program drew a record audience on a pitch-dark January evening with 15-degree temperatures and a biting wind. One audience member said, ”I've been worried about how I was going to get through the next six weeks, but I'm not afraid of winter any more.”
- “Words, Melody & Heart: The Great Songwriters and Poets of Romantic Germany” – designed to take the listener on a tour of this golden age of songwriting, with reference not only to the principal composers but also to the key poets Heine, Eichendorff, Rückert, and Mörike in addition to Goethe. As a way of introducing more composers than a typical recital would allow, she contrasts settings of the same poem by such diverse pairs of composers as Mahler and Clara Schumann, Beethoven and Wolf.
- “Partners in Melody” – several programs developed by Marcella, that showcase the ways voices have been used together in duets and trios from the 16th century to premieres of new works.
- “Celebrations” – a program weaving together a collection of masterpieces that have, as a common theme, a nonetheless startling variety of moods on the subject of celebrating life. Six languages (English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian).
- “Nature’s Children” – a program that celebrates the power of nature, originally designed to celebrate the opening of a new hall in a beautiful rural setting. Four languages.