photos © CAROL ROSEGG
at NEW YORK CITY OPERA (with soprano Elizabeth Futral as Semele)
Elizabeth Futral (Semele) and Vivica Genaux (Juno) are formidable rivals. Each is a specialist in spinning out Handelian cantilena to maximum effect, whether caressing a long-lined lyrical phrase or launching a cascade of virtuoso vocal fireworks. Genaux is especially dazzling in this respect, more than confirmed by her spectacular new Handel recital just released on Virgin Classics.
- Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine, October 2, 2006
Vivica Genaux, in the dual role of Ino and Juno (and also Juno disguised as Ino) was strong-voiced and burnished in tone. This is a sound that is pure polished mahogany. She was the most steadfast in resisting the pop influence in her ornamentation.
- Fred Kirshnit, The New York Sun, September 15, 2006
Playing a Jackie O-styled Juno (Jupiter’s vengeful wife) and Ino (Semele’s overshadowed sister), mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux made her City Opera debut on Wednesday. Handel’s most beautiful writing is for Ino, beseeching over spare organ and single strings. The Alaska-born Genaux fully reinforced her international reputation, especially in these dark-hued arias of despair and frustration.
- Bradley Bambarger, The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), September 15, 2006
The soprano Elizabeth Futral and the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux (a long-overdue City Opera début) not only make short work of Handel’s vocal pyrotechnics but also lend their roles (Marilyn and Jackie, respectively) the appropriate dose of glamour.
- Goings On About Town, The New Yorker, October 2, 2006
The singers were an accomplished group, especially the fabulous Vivica Genaux (doubling as Juno and Semele’s sister Ino), who used her velvety, flexible mezzo with maximum venom.
- Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2006
Choosing Handel’s 1744 Semele to open New York City Opera’s fall season would alone be justified by the presence of dazzling soprano Elizabeth Futral as its ambitious heroine, with mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux admirably keeping pace as Semele’s nemesis, Juno.
This [Futral’s] kind of singing – along with Genaux’s nifty double-act as Juno and Semele’s sister Ino, and Robert Breault’s keenly focused tenor as the presidential Jupiter – made what could have been ‘Handel for Dummies’ emerge as devilishly clever and disgracefully successful.
- Clive Barnes, The New York Post, September 15, 2006?
Conducted with sensitive propulsion by Antony Walker, the production united an ensemble of virtuosic singing-actors. Vivica Genaux seconded her [Elizabeth Futral in the title role] as Ino and Juno with fresh-toned tough-cookie bravado.
- Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, September 14, 2006
More precise vocally, if somewhat less abandoned physically, was the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux in the ‘evil twin’ roles of Ino, Semele’s sister and Juno, Semele’s rival. The fiery second act aria ‘Hence, Iris hence away’ for once did not play as a splashy star turn; instead, Genaux’s crystalline coloratura suggested the icy calculation powering Juno’s revenge. The mezzo further exuded the confidence of a born stage animal — coolly deadpan when her Iris aria was staged as a Kay Thompson nightclub number.
- James Jorden, Gay City News, September 21-27, 2006
Mezzo Vivica Genaux plays two roles – Ino, Semele’s shy sister, and Juno, spiteful and cunning. She inhabits both roles and sings at all times with spectacular agility, stunning tone and expressivity. What a great singer Ms Genaux is!
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com, October 4, 2006
Strictly speaking, the classical-music season began Sept. 13 at the New York City Opera with Handel’s delicious Semele, with a superlative young cast led by the soprano Elizabeth Futral and the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux.
- Charles Michener, The New York Observer, September 25, 2006
Vivica Genaux gave Jackie/Juno (who also disguises herself as Semele’s sister, Ino) a cool, ruthless glamour and a rich, peaty voice.”
- Justin Davidson, Newsday, September 15, 2006
If Semele is Marilyn [Monroe] in director Stephen Lawless’s JFK White House-themed concept, then Juno, Jupiter’s jealous wife, is Jacqueline Kennedy; when Vivica Genaux strode briskly onstage, flanked by Secret Service agents, she sported a Jackie-style lime-green outfit and pillbox hat. Her formidable, hell-hath-no-fury body language and blazing rendition of ‘Iris, hence away’ were all the more impressive considering that Genaux was equally convincing as the lovesick slightly nerdy Ino, Semele’s overshadowed younger sister, in the first scene. Juno is the flashier role, but one of Genaux’s high points was as Ino in the passionate ‘You’ve undone me,’ her duet with [countertenor Matthew] White, in which the mad-of-honor and the high-voiced, straight-laced groom generated some serious vocal and erotic sparks.
- Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, December 2006
Elizabeth Futral and Vivica Genaux, who open Baltimore Opera Company’s season next week, provide vocal and theatrical fireworks [in NYCO’s production of Handel’s Semele].
- Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, October 3, 2006
The Best of 2006:
Semele at New York City Opera – The company’s hot streak in Handel was extended by this playfully staged oratorio, which featured daredevil singing by Vivica Genaux.”
- Steve Smith, Time Out New York, December 28, 2006 – January 3, 2007
For her NYCO debut, Vivica Genaux found in Ino and Juno two roles precisely adapted to her means. Her limpid diction, her precision in the attacks and the vocalises, her taste in ornamentation, work wonders in this repertoire, topped off with undeniable physical grace: she’s wearing one of Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hats, and as for her psychopathological behavior, it’s reminiscent of Winnie Mandela and Mme Mao.”
- David Shengold, Opéra Magazine, January 2007