Melissa Errico performs for MIAC

Grace Smrcka, Staff writer

The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture (MIAC) proudly hosted performer Melissa Errico for a Zoom performance on Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Brett Johnson, director of the Mercyhurst Theater Program and the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture moderated the discussion throughout the performance. While this was a free performance, like all MIAC events, registration was required.

Errico is “the Maria Callas of American musical theater,” as Opera News has called her, referencing both her crystalline voice and dramatic, expressive intensity of her performance style.

Errico is an actress, singer and author. First known for her starring roles on Broadway, her latest album, “Sondheim Sublime,” was “the best all-Sondheim album ever recorded,” according to the Wall Street Journal. However, nothing in her work has been more constant than her association with Michel Legrand. Having starred in his sole Broadway show, “Amour,” she went on to collaborate with him on the iconic album “Legrand Affair.”

After Legrand’s death in 2019, she was asked to write his eulogy by The New York Times, for which she is a frequent contributor, and was then invited to become the sole American performer to participate in the extraordinary two-day memorial to Legrand held in April at Paris’ Le Grand Rex Theatre.

Ericco was born in New York City and attended high school in Manhasset while taking dance lessons in Manhattan. She grew up around art and music, as her father is an orthopedic surgeon and a concert pianist and her mother is a former teacher who now works as a sculptor. Additionally, her grandmother was an opera singer.  Errico began her professional career at the age of 12, appearing on the children’s TV series “The Great Space Coaster.”

Errico opened her performance with a medley featuring “Wouldn’t It Be Lovely” from “My Fair Lady,” and “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” This arrangement was something that she put together herself.

Most of the performance was virtually accompanied by Tedd Firth, who is one of the most sought-after musical directors, pianists and arrangers in jazz, cabaret, concert halls and beyond.

While the entire concert was fantastic, a notable piece that she performed was “When She Loved Me,” written by Randy Newman for the film “Toy Story 2.” Errico expressed her connection to the song, as she has three daughters. She stated that she deeply relates to the work as she watches her little girls grow up and become independent. There was certainly not a dry eye after that piece.

To bring the performance to a close, Errico performed the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the well-known film “The Wizard of Oz.” However, this performance was especially unique as she performed it using original lyrics that had been cut from the song.

Before singing this final piece, Errico reminded the audience that what motivates her is a desire “to understand the writer and the song. Know the intention behind the words. It is not just a melody, you need to have an effective sound.” Melissa Errico was an absolute delight.

Her talent was obvious even over a digital platform, and the joy she got from performing radiated through the screen. It is no wonder that Errico is as wellknown as she is. Overall, she was incredibly humble and had a great deal of passion and music to share with the audience.