The great art of the song recital lies in its intimacy. It is an intimacy which is needed not only between the artists and the songs, but also between the artists and the audience. Michael Schade is a singer who knows how to harness the immediacy of story-telling in all its nuances in art songs as well as all other singing, focusing absolutely on the words. Trusting text and music, he manages to create emotional highlights with his clear, velvety pianissimo tones. “During song recitals and in opera, the point is never ‘I sing well and look good’,” says Michael Schade, “on the contrary, the point is: what do I want to say? And why do I want to say it at all?”
During their song recital at the Vienna State Opera on January 15, 2020, Michael Schade and Malcolm Martineau payed homage to several female personalities who left their traces in music history, for example Beethoven’s Adelaide, Schubert’s Silvia or Laura… he looked up to the moon and wonder whether “she” loves him? Naturally, Glaube, Liebe, Hoffnung (Faith Love and Hope) played a certain role before the programme left Vienna behind and delved into the world of Maurice Ravel. The simple, exotic Cinq melodies populaires grecques by Ravel were combined with little masterpieces by Gabriel Fauré – and again, it is the ladies who were adored and offered inspiration: Nell and Sylvie … until it was time to say Adieu. One of Michael Schade’s favourite songs is Fleur jetée, which Fauré wrote in a rage after the end of a love affair. And what would a song recital at Vienna’s State Opera be without Richard Strauss? Michael Schade brought this grand evening to a close with some of the most beautiful songs by Richard Strauss – including Cäcilie – a song he wrote to celebrate his engagement to his wife Pauline.
“What happens when I stand up here and encounter the audience is an exchange between the souls I sing for and my own. And only the souls of the listeners can judge what is ‘right’. Therefore, there cannot be an absolutely ‘right’ answer in our art.” This encounter of the souls, says Michael Schade, is “a communication reminiscent of a form of communion – something of the utmost importance.” This goes well with one of his guiding principles, which he likes to pass on to students at master classes around the world. “You don’t become a singer. You are called to be a singer.”