Stephanie Blythe has always been an enterprising recitalist, and her ascendance into Wagneriana at the Metropolitan Opera hasn't changed that a bit.
Hearing her huge voice in the Kimmel Center's smallish Perelman Theater on Tuesday was a unique thrill. In earlier recitals presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she had brought Eileen Farrell's seamlessness and Marilyn Horne's depth of tone; now her own voice is one future singers will be measured against, in part because she does such unexpected things with it.
Like talking. There were no song texts in the printed program, so she and pianist Warren Jones recited the words to James Legg's Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson and Samuel Barber's Three Songs Op. 10 before she sang them. Thus the audience was better able to parse the word/music relationship, particularly in the Legg cycle, written shortly before his death in 2000 at 38. His voice hadn't fully emerged, but masterstrokes are there: "I'm Nobody! Who are you?" was not mousy but ironically aggressive.