I hate it when I ask a question or try and tell a friend about some new discovery of mine and the friend says, “Didn’t you know that? I knew that years ago”, with a tone in his voice that hints at an unspoken ‘stupid’. That’s when I hit him.
This is probably something that I am the last person in the world to find but there is a great website called Boy Soprano and it has a long list of boy singers.
They provide some biographical information on all of them and some sample music by many. I’m still working my way through it but I found a great singer that I didn’t know about. His name is Bejun Mehta, a cousin of conductor Zubin Mehta. I bought his CD titled Songs and Arias of Handel, Schubert, Brahms and Britten and it came in the mail today. This was recorded in 1982 when Bejun was 14 and nearing the end of his soprano career. Fortunately it was recorded digitally on tape so the sound quality is good.
There is a quote on the cover by Leonard Bernstein, “It is hard to believe the richness and maturity of musical understanding in this adolescent boy.”
Bejun’s voice was made to sing opera and he sounds surprisingly like a female soprano. In fact, if you didn’t know it was a boy singing you probably wouldn’t guess. He sings passionately with the authority of a mature singer who has years of experience.
Some things from the liner notes that other people have said are, from the LA Times critic, “…incredible sophistication and sensitivity. Here was a technique that could do florid things and diminuendos on high notes. Here was an artist with an extraordinary sound the likes of which I don’t think I’d heard before” and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas called him an extraordinary prodigy.
He has “the unique gift of an inborn mezza-voce technique” so he can move between the highs and lows while maintaining a consistent quality. In February of 1983 he in New York he gave a recital that was both his debut and farewell. He was fourteen and shortly after began to mature. Prior to that his family wanted him to have a normal childhood so he only performed at local concerts in Michigan. I think this may be his only recording, but I’m not sure about that.
The CD had Britten’s The Last Rose of Summer and Schuberts’ The Shepard on the Rock (which has an amazing ending). Some Handel songs are If God Be For Us, Where’er You Walk, With Thee the Unsheltered Moor I’d Tread, and others. His choices from Brahms were Ladybug, My Sweetheart Has Rosy Lips, Down Deep in the Valley and A tree is Standing.
This is really worth getting.