As the youngest singer on the roster of her first European opera house (Aachen), Julia Schechtman delivered a dramatic short-notice substitution for an ailing fellow soprano in Shostakovich's 'Nase', with a mere three days to learn the substantial role. She had never even heard the work; the cast had had months to learn and rehearse it. The entire ensemble gathered in the wings to watch her pull it off. This was followed by performances as Adina in ‘L’Elisir d’amore’, and then Adele in ‘Die Fledermaus,’ Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s ‘Albert Herring.' Other theaters offered her Gilda in Rigoletto, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Despina in Così fan tutte, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. Germany, Switzerland, Holland.
Her CD, “Brilliant,” (also on iTunes) showcases five show-stopping coloratura arias she recorded “just for fun” during this period. Glorious high notes, breathtaking agility, but not just acrobatics -- joy, and deep feeling as well.
Her CDs of sacred music, such as ‘Lilies and Simple Gifts,’ show a different side of her, both vocally and personally: lyric, sympathetic, still joyous, but with a complete self-effacement before the texts of Scripture. Here is an undercurrent of help -- as of an outstretched hand. The songs are nurturing, calming... full of faith. All these albums are beautifully structured for restful and enlivening contrasts. 'Lilies' is adventurous, a harmonious mix of loved old and moving moderns. 'Sparrow' is full of classical charmers.
For the recording of the sacred songs, the conductor Saul Schechtman had a brief window of available time and agreed to accompany his daughter on piano (Boesendorfer, chosen for its commanding bass and warm, mellow upper tones). Extraordinarily sensitive accompaniment, profound grasp of styles, a wide range of expression from both singer and accompanist, ranging from hushed to powerful and all the moods of holiness inbetween.