The American soprano and teacher Carol Webber passed away earlier this month.
For 24 years, Webber performed with the Metropolitan Opera and numerous regional opera companies throughout North America. Her concert appearances included the opening of the fiftieth anniversary season of Tanglewood. A respected teacher, Webber served on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory, her alma mater, from 1986 to 1991. Her long-running tenure as a professor at the Eastman School of Music began in 1991.
This performance of Claude Debussy’s early art song, Beau soir (“Beautiful Evening”), featuring Carol Webber and pianist Robert McDonald, was recorded in 1991. The text, a poem by Paul Bourget, describes a serene, rose-tinted sunset and a warm breeze rippling through fields of wheat. According to Debussy, “music and poetry are the only two arts that move in space.” Written by the 15-year-old Debussy, Beau soir is dreamy and fleeting.
When at sunset the rivers are pinkAnd a warm breeze ripples the fields of wheat,All things seem to advise content –And rise toward the troubled heart;Advise us to savour the gift of life,While we are young and the evening fair,For our life slips by, as that river does:It to the sea – we to the tomb.
Featured Image: photograph by J. Adam Fenster