The turn of the millennium saw Vivica Genaux shedding the skirts of Rossini heroines for the heroes’ trousers of rare Baroque and bel canto operas. And did she make her mark early on!
Her first foray into the genre was as Ariodante in the 1998 Dallas Opera production of Handel’s courtly opera about honor lost and honor regained. Sung to critical acclaim:
“In the title role, Vivica Genaux. one of the new breed of daring coloratura mezzo-sopranos… sang with power and clarity… she convincingly conveyed Ariodante’s youthful ardor and love, doubt, rage and final contentment.” - Wall Street Journal
Ariodanteled to one new trouser role after another, either in concert or on stage – in Hasse’s Solimano, Donizetti’s Alahor in Granata, Vivaldi’s Giustino, Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Arminio, Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, Rossini’s Semiramide, and Bellini’sI Capuleti ed i Montecchi, all to rave reviews. Here are some excerpts:
Of her Romeo in I Capuleti: You can also take the word of the audience who gave her a standing ovation afterward. Suffice it to say that she was in fine voice, as usual, and her acting of the boyishly aggressive Romeo was flawless. - Mike Fekula, OPERA-L
Of her Giulio Cesare: …She played Caesar with a fierce bantam agility and power. She delivered the arias with confidence and bravura, looked great in armor.
- Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal
Of her Urbain in Les Huguenots: “The most polished and colourful performance among the women came from Vivica Genaux, the American mezzo, as Marguerite’s page Urbain. She knocked off the runs in “Une dame, noble et sage” with the style, precision and aplomb that one has come to expect of this accomplished Rossini singer, and her velvety low tones and quicksilver acting added spice to the evening”. - Opera Now
Of her Selimo in Solimano: “… poised and alluring in her tender arias, yet capable of delivering roulades with the precision and luster of a Marilyn Horne.” - George Loomis, the International Herald Tribune