Marisol Montalvo electrified guests at the Andermatt Concert Hall. In her autobiographical one-woman show "Mad Scene," the soprano not only sang and talked about her life. She seemed to performed as if her life depended on it. The evening concert about the trials and tribulations of a career as an opera singer was full of raw emotion. The New Yorker cried and laughed – and the audience right along with her. At the end, they gave Montalvo a long standing ovation. "Marisol is like a volcano, though not one that scorches or burns, but warms people instead," said Swiss Alps Classics artistic director Clemens Hellsberg, who moderated the evening in a charming and convivial manner. (He also invited Marcel Koller, former Swiss head coach of Austria's national soccer team, who attended the concert with his wife Gisela, and Olympic champion Bernhard Russi to the stage for an interview.) The organizers could not have hoped for a more memorable end to the fifth anniversary than with this captivating world-class artist, who celebrated her comeback in front of 270 guests after a 15-month absence from the stage due to the pandemic. "I'm overwhelmed," Montalvo said. "The last year and a half has been tough, especially for independent performers."
A big thank you goes to the canton of Uri, which last week granted the concert presented by The Chedi Residences the status of a pilot project. This means that up to 325 guests would have been allowed into the concert hall instead of 100. All visitors and staff had to demonstrate that they were either fully vaccinated, recovered, or had been tested. A mobile test station was set up on site. All of the 63 tests performed were negative. The organizers' protection concept was a complete success. "The atmosphere was fantastic. We would like to thank the canton of Uri for the trust they have placed in us and for giving us this special status," said festival founder Peter-Michael Reichel.
Montalvo told her life story in "Mad Scene" with a highly empathetic accompaniment by Werner Lemberg on piano: How she, the eldest of eight children of a single mother from Puerto Rico, cherished the seemingly totally unrealistic dream of becoming an opera singer; how she entered beauty contests to finance singing lessons and even became "Miss New York" and 1st runner-up "Miss America"; how she became addicted to cortisone because she believed she could not sing without the drug; how she had to say goodbye to her dying mother in order to accept an engagement as an understudy in Paris (she cried and the audience cried with her); how she lost her voice and ended up on the operating table.
Her return to the top of the opera world and to the covers of international trade magazines was due to her passionate commitment. It’s also an inspiration to anyone facing a crisis. Moreover, her vocal performance in this at once touching and humorous "revue," which she conducted in English but also in German ("I speak excellent Denglish."), was incomparable. The current resident of Dusseldorf blew the audience away with her wide-ranging repertoire. She sings Schubert as effortlessly as Gounod, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, Bernstein and Sondheim or, as virtuoso highlights, the famous "Madness Aria" from Donizetti's opera "Lucia di Lammermoor" and the even more demanding "Martern" Aria of Konstanze from Mozart's "Die Entführung aus dem Serail."
The audience called her back to the stage several times after the end of the more than 90-minute performance – and the cheering wouldn't stop. The obviously moved Marisol Montalvo jubilantly clenched her fists. Befitting an opera singer, she was presented with an oversized bouquet of white flowers and a special edition of Swiss Alps Classics chocolates, specially created by the official chocolate partner Sprüngli. Montalvo raved about the venue: "The Andermatt Concert Hall is wonderful. There was a great atmosphere. The lighting and all the technology made for a great performance. It was an absolute delight – wow!" Montalvo, who had already performed at the Swiss Alps Classics in 2019, promised to come back. "Here, I feel like I'm at home with friends. I love this festival. Thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to make my comeback here."
Partnerships since the beginning of the festival with The Chedi, Chedi Residences and the UKB
At the subsequent gala dinner at The Chedi, where strict hygiene rules also applied, the general manager of the world-renowned five-star deluxe hotel, Jean-Yves Blatt, was also among the guests. Regarding the association with the Swiss Alps Classics, Blatt said: "It's a great festival. We believed in it from the beginning. The Swiss Alps Classics was born here in Andermatt at The Chedi, and that's why we continue to be a partner of the festival." Adrian Murer, CEO of Swiss Finance & Property Group, said: “The festival - like Andermatt as a destination in general - continues to evolve and become even better. We are delighted that we could continue our long-standing partnership with the festival after the Corona-related interruption with such a magnificent, high-caliber program." Swiss Finance & Property Group owns the fund that sells and manages The Chedi Residences.
The Swiss Alps Classics has another successful partnership with the Urner Kantonalbank (UKB). UKB CEO Christoph Bugnon stressed: “We’re pleased about the long-term partnership and the fruitful cooperation. The Urner Kantonalbank has supported the festival from the start and is delighted that the significance of the festival has only grown over the years and has an important impact on the canton of Uri. The festival consequently aligns very well with our values, which are, among other things, focused on long-term partnerships." Clemens Hellsberg underlined how important the sponsors are: "It is not only about financial backing, but above all about the joy we share with our partners in the festival and in the music, which is further transmitted to the performers and the audience."
You can find a video of Marisol Montalvo's concert here on our YouTube channel.