Picks and Pans Review: Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers and Hart

updated 10/21/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/21/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Dawn Upshaw

As Upshaw beautifully demonstrated with her 1994 CD, I Wish It So, it is possible for an opera star to be a crossover success. Yet from the evidence here, Upshaw should have rested on her laurels. The singer has a voice of shimmering beauty and crystalline diction, but there is something just too sunny and girlish and genteel about her presentation. And the lyrics of the inimitable Hart require quite a different approach: sophistication, an idiomatic, colloquial delivery and emotional depth. No-where is Upshaw found more lacking than in her covers of "Manhattan" and "Mountain Greenery," both of which beg for a certain amount of swing. One thing Upshaw does not do is swing. Her charms and talent are shown to their best advantage in the fluid, lovely "You're Nearer" and in collaboration with Broadway's Audra McDonald on the impish "Why Can't I?" (Nonesuch)

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