If she wanted to, Marilyn Horne could probably reduce her stage persona to a single specialty: the heavily ornamented music of the 18th Century. Chances are that no other coloratura mezzo can offer the whole battery of bel-canto feats, and to such dazzling effect, as she.
But Horne is also an artist. Apparently she's not content with glittery vocal acrobatics, despite her virtuosity. Apparently she does not choose to turn away from the wealth of literature that the art-song embodies. And, from a practical point of view, she already is type-cast on the opera stage, singing the florid antiques that companies exhume one after another.
So her recital Thursday at Royce Hall, UCLA, permitted only one short and one extended item celebrating the coloratura terrain. All together, Horne's generous program was a connoisseur's delight--covering vocal history from the pre-Baroque period to the lieder of Beethoven and Wolf to the 20th-Century Catalan-styled songs of Xavier Montsalvatge.
The format was familiar, different selections notwithstanding. As he has for 21 years, Martin Katz accompanied--superbly.
Since her appearance last year, Horne has become a blond and gained back much of the weight she had shed. Also, her manner seemed more businesslike and detached than in Pasadena. Basically, however, the vocal apparatus remains the same, give or take some exaggerated reediness at the opening of her recital.