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There is something beguiling about a child prodigy whose normal appearance belies an extraordinary gift. So when 11-year-old Jackie Evancho opens her mouth, what comes out is a startling experience.
The girl with a golden voice sang before a crowd that mostly filled half of the Maverik Center's lower bowl Saturday night in West Valley City. Evancho, who will turn 12 in nine days, won the audience's heart, singing a mix of classical arias, musical anthems and pop covers.
Her quick rise to fame and crossover appeal became clear as she performed the concert's opening selection, "Dream with Me," from her album of the same name released in June.
The most surprising thing about Evancho's voice is the tightly focused depth (sometimes too tightly focused) of her low notes. Her pitch was uncannily accurate, and her range incredible, especially for one so young.
A lot of her program consisted of similarly sounding ballads no spritely arias or tunes to mix things up but this is where she feels comfortable at this stage in her fledging career.
Selections like "All I Ask of You" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera," accompanied by a fine 45-piece orchestra, showed agile tone, sliding easily to the ending high note. This is the music she cut her teeth on, watching the DVD of this show over and over in her "younger years."
Singing in French to Lara Fabian's "Imaginer" and in Italian for Puccini's "O mio babbino caro," Evancho showed her expertise with languages as well as some pretty respectable interpretation.
Young tenor Josh Page joined Evancho for "Nella Fantasia," a song that yielded some well-balanced harmony and brought the audience to their feet. Page also contributed three solos, the best of which was the famous Neapolitan song "O sole mio." The young man, who was brought onstage to sing with Josh Groban four months ago at New York City's Madison Square Garden, faltered trying to match his mentor in "You Raise Me Up."
When Evancho came back with a giggle before starting "The Lord's Prayer," it was welcome relief, even though this was technically one of her weakest efforts. Late in the concert, it seemed that she had difficulty maintaining the same tonal and emotional focus.
Despite her abundant talent and charm, the main differences between Evancho and a more mature singer are mostly rooted in the ability to float long phrases with technical dependability and smoothly traversing different vocal ranges.
But that said, the way this singer was able to headline a tour performance of 12 selections plus an encore of Webber's sublime "Pie Jesu" was nothing short of astonishing.
The coming years will reveal if Evancho's career will take her to the opera stage, the flashy life of a pop artist, a movie set or all three. It's been done before.
Review: Jackie Evancho
Young girl with a golden voice charms Maverik Center audience.
Where • Maverik Center, West Valley City
When • Saturday, March 31