Student, Shuhua Zheng, delivers operatic senior recital

Andrew Shermoen

“I think I was born with the nature to love music,” Shuhua Zheng said. The vocal music major is in her senior year at Washburn and is glad that she chose to move here from her native China for her education. “In China, I learn methods through the Eastern style of teaching. In America, I get the Western style,” Zheng fondly stated. “I love Washburn and I’m so happy to be learning music here.” Zheng, fondly called Abby by her American classmates and friends, is a lover of her university, but most of all she’s a lover of music. Zheng’s music choices at her recital reflected her love for opera, but mostly her love of Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the composer of the first three pieces sung by Zheng. “Vedrai, carino” and “La ci darem la mano” both appear in Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” In the songs, Zheng plays Zerlina, a young peasant girl who has won the affection of Don Giovanni himself, much to her dismay. “Vedrai, carino,” consoles her fiancé after he has been viciously beaten by Giovanni and assures him that her love will soothe his wounds. “La ci darem la mano,” is a duet between Zerlina and Giovanni as the latter attempts to persuade Zerlina to leave her fiancé for him. Zheng chose, senior vocal music major, Brett Larimore to appear alongside her in the duet.

She also sang Mozart’s “Voi che sapete” from his opera “The Marriage of Figaro.” It’s a unique and famous aria that features a male character, Cherubino, who is usually played by a female actress. It features a bouncy and bright rhythm accompanied by cheerful and bright lyrics about the power of love. These pieces by Mozart were Zheng’s personal favorites during the recital, making for a fitting opening for her performance.

Zheng then performed Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios,” a music selection featuring four songs, each focused on love or affection. The pieces differ in their abstraction of love as a concept, with some pieces like “From where do you come, my love?” being very straight-forward, while “With What Shall I Wash?” being more abstract. They also discuss certain aspects of love. “You Killed Me” is about diminished or unrequited love, whereas the others are distinctly about loving something with extreme passion.

The concert then utilized two pieces from Francis Poulenc. “Air Vif” is a brisk and complex melody that finds the singer focusing on the power of nature. Its lyrics are trifle, but its music requires focus and absolute talent. Zheng handled the piece and never faltered in her performance. Poulenc’s piece simply titled “C” which uses a poem from Louis Aragon that details the occupation of France during World War II. It Tells the story of the bridges guarding Angers and details the inevitable defeat and stories of the battle before lamenting his fallen country.

Zheng finished the concert with pieces from Ambroise Thomas and Richard Hundley before meeting with friends and family for a reception in the main lobby of White Concert Hall. Music professors spoke highly of Zheng’s performance, saying she was a talented and intelligent musician with hope for the future. The music department’s next event is the Holiday Vespers Concert on Sunday, December 11 at White Concert Hall.