It was a program made for pleasure, and most pleasurable of all was Ms. Martînez’s rich, warm, disciplined instrument, a melt-in-your mouth dark-chocolate truffle – with flecks of orange zest contributed by her horn-like vibrancy. She is remembered locally for her splendid work in the Verdi Requiem in 2013, and I also recall her impressive Countess in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Juliet in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet at Houston Grand Opera in 2005.

Her vehicles in this concert were Manuel de Falla’s Seven Popular Spanish Songs, arranged for orchestra by Rodolfo Halffter, and selections from four zarzuelas – the Spanish style of operetta – including her encore, the famous “Carceleras“ from Ruperto Chapi’s comedy of tangled loves Las Hijas del Zebedeo. There were many rewarding subtleties in her performances – the slight pitch inflections in Falla’s tender “Nana,” the sweetness of her response to concertmaster Eric Gratz’s sweet violin solo at the beginning of the Romanza from Ernesto Lecuona’s Maria la O, her intelligent shadings of vocal color to underscore the texts throughout.

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