Howell is a fine singer with a magnificent dramatic sense, as any opera goer
knows. But he is also an excellent entertainer with a sharp wit and a
great sense of humor (albeit somewhat madcap at times). His recital, or
rather Evening of Song as he styled it, may not have been on the same artistic
plane as previous concerts in this series, but it was a roaring success with
From his entrance, dangling on the end of a rope (around his foot, not his neck) singing the Largo al Factotum, it was apparent that this was no ordinary vocal recital. Roger Howell has a genius for characterisation, but of all the roles, the swaggering, schemeing Figaro type smmes to fit best of all. The Figaro theme was followed up later in the evening in a virtuoso display of character acting in which Roger Howell took, one after the other, the three baritione roles in Mozart's opera - Figaro, Dr. Bartolo and Count Almaviva.
The serious business was disposed of in the first half with Russian and German lieder. roger Howell's approach to these may have disturbed the purists with its operatic touches, but these was no disputing the sincerity of his interpretations. In the second half we were taken through an extraordinary range of vocal styles. Apart from the Figaro-treble, we had Peter Dawson, Al Jolson, flanders and Swan, Gilbert and Sullivan and Paul Robeson, and that is by no means an exhaustive list.
It was all in the ligher vein (except for the very moving performances of three Negro spirituals), but no less impressive for that. It was one of the most remarkable displays of vocal versatility that I have heard for a long time. One of the key factors in the success of these vocal recitals has been the superb musicianship of David McSkimming, one of the finest pianists in this city. His versatility is scarcely less remarkable than that of Roger Howell, and his impeccable artistry ensured that success of this highly entertaining evening.'