Of her PROMS debut at Royal Albert Hall (UK) 8 Aug 2009
“VIVICA GENAUX DAZZLES IN HER PROMS DEBUT
Virgin Classics’ Vivica Genaux was met with a standing ovation at the Royal Albert Hall in her BBC Proms debut.
-EMI Classics headline
Two Rossini arias brought a stellar performance from the Alaskan mezzo Vivica Genaux, whose substantial, steel-tipped voice filled the Albert Hall as easily as if it were the Wigmore, and dispatched the vocal gymnastics with ease and charm.
- Erica Jeal, www.guardian.co.uk, August 7, 2009
The star turn before the interval came from Vivica Genaux in virtuoso accounts of two Rossini arias; showstoppers from La donna del lago and La Cenerentola with lavish and intricate ornamentation…she negotiated the coloratura with breathtaking ease…
- Hugo Shirley, www.musicalcriticism.com, August 8, 2009
…’Non più mesta’ from La Cenerentola was delivered with a winning girlish glee.
- Kieron Quirke, Evening Standard, August 7, 2009
It was followed up with a pair of Rossini excerpts – an aria each from La donna del lago and La Cenerentola – sung with flair by Alaskan Rossini specialist Vivica Genaux.
- Tristan Jakob-Hoff, BBC Music Magazine-Proms Diary, August 7, 2009
Of her ARSACE in Caramoor Festival’s Semiramide
… the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, a passionate, theatrically compelling Arsace, who sang with rapid-fire, jaw-dropping (but tasteful) ornamentation.
- Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, August 4, 2009
Vivica Genaux was in outstanding form in the trouser role of Arsace. The rich voice has an evenness from top to bottom that allows the many low-lying phrases consistently to sound warm and true. Her way with coloratura was simply dazzling, but no less telling was the intensity she brought to Arsace’s pivotal scene in which he is at once made aware that Semiramide is his mother and that he must avenge his father’s murder.
- GeorgeLoomis, MusicalAmerica.com, August 5, 2009
By her [Angela Meade’s] side for two duets, a couple of arias and another duet was a Caramoor (and world) favorite, mezzo Vivica Genaux as Arsace. With Marilyn Horne’s grand footsteps to fill, Ms. Genaux had nothing to worry about: her voice remains stunning and thoroughly fluent in the most demanding music; her low notes boomed and high notes shone. Her singing was always expressive.
- Robert Levine, www.ClassicsToday.com, July 31, 2009
Her voice is extraordinarily sensitive, and her inventions sounded spontaneous.”
“Their recitatives together produced fire, their second duet, sweetly tuned, was as beautiful and tender as anything in this opera. In fact, by the end of their second duet, Ms. Meade and Ms. Genaux threw themselves into the roles not like Queen and Commander or Queen and Son or Queen and Lover, but as two adoring sisters.
- Harry Rolnick, www.ConcertoNet.com, July 31, 2009
…the sound and articulation are impressive, and she never seems to tire in a role that goes on and on — longer than Semiramide’s part, I think, and because it lies in so low a register (Arsace’s music, I mean) harder to project.
- La Cieca (a.k.a James Jorden), Parterre Box, August 4, 2009
Of her Concert with the Venice Baroque Orchestra at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall
The mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux has a fondness for Baroque opera, and more important, a sense of the style and how it can be used. That isn’t just a matter of technique. Knowing how and where to ornament and what kind of sound works best for a Baroque piece is important, but lots of singers are schooled in those things now. Ms. Genaux’s strength is her combination of lively musicianship and the kind of personality that adapts easily and believably to the concerns of the character she is singing, even if she inhabits that character for the space of only a single aria.
In her concert at Weill Recital Hall on Wednesday evening, Ms. Genaux touched briefly but persuasively on arias from Vivaldi’s “Tamerlano (Bajazet),” Hasse’s “Senocrita,” Broschi’s “Idaspe” and two Handel operas, Giulio Cesare and Ariodante. She maintained certain hallmarks throughout the performance — most notably, pinpoint clarity in the most florid writing, precisely articulated texts and a commanding sense of line.
But she also gave each aria a distinct coloration, depending on the level of emotion the piece embodied, whether desperation (as in Vivaldi’s “Sposa son disprezzata”) or heroics tempered by vulnerability (as in Broschi’s “Qual guerriero in campo armato”). .
Ms. Genaux was supported by members of the Venice Baroque Orchestra, an ensemble with a free-spirited approach similar to her own. ”
- Allan Kozinn, New York Times, January 17, 2009
Of her concert with Concerto Köln in Lyon, FRANCE
Headline: Emotion, the real thing – Vivica Genaux: breathtaking in virtuosity and expressivity.
The mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux was the very incarnation of Baroque sensuality in a dazzling program, in which the ensemble Concerto Köln supported her with panache.
Going from Handel to Hasse, while passing through Vivaldi, the mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux and Concerto Köln offered Lyon a concert in which the American singer’s sensitivity and deeply felt interpretations combined with the ensemble’s elegance and flair for an evening rich in emotions.
…Vivica Genaux appeared, glamorous but classic in high heels and a bright apple-green jacket.
Smoldering, with a sensual temperament, she boldly embodied the Handelian roles: ‘Sta nell’ircana’ from Alcina linked to ‘Cara speme’ from Giulio Cesare were breathtaking in virtuosity, in mastery of breath control, in expressivity and in melodic density. The standing ovation was fully earned.
- Sandrine Khoudja, Le Monde de la Musique, January 2009
Of her Hasse Concert at the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele
(Sanctus Petrus et Sancta Maria Magdalena / Miserere )
With her glowing mezzo, Vivica Genaux finely expresses the extreme emotional mood of the situation. The harmonious interplay of the three female singers created an exceptional listening experience.
- Dietholf Zerweck, Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung, November 25, 2008
Vivica Genaux endowed the role of Maria Salome with her well-articulated mezzo voice. - Marten Mezger, Esslinger Zeitung, November 25, 2008
Of her recital at the Tannery Pond Concerts
“Outstanding vocal performances, many of them by mezzo-sopranos, have been among the defining features of this summer’s musical life. But one of the most remarkable and fascinating of these took place last Saturday evening at Tannery Pond, when Vivica Genaux accompanied by Craig Rutenberg, performed an unusual program of works little-known in the classical mainstream.
Genaux’s program was full of revelations. But you’ll not find a more compelling introduction to this [Zarzuela] repertoire, or any of the other works on the program than Ms. Genaux’s, whose artistry brings us back to the grand old times, when singers gave free rein to expression and emotion.
For Vivica Genaux, producing the melodic line, technique, phrasing, interpreting the text, and acting are all one. It seems only natural for her to address them as a unity – and all to the utmost. As with certain great singers of the past, she sings each note and each phrase with full comprehension and expression. Add to that her splendid mezzo voice with its amazing variety of color and nuance, and you are in for something quite unique.[In Haydn’sArianna a Naxos] Daring harmonic modulations follow Ariadne’s intense shifting moods.” “This was a powerful introduction to Ms. Genaux’s vivid dramatic imagination and her ability to immerse herself in the emotions of her characters: operatic to the core, she created a character with each work she sang.” “Ms. Genaux focused her large, operatic voice on each phrase and melody, which constantly demanded hairpin turns of shading and color. Haydn’s classical, but intensely emotional treatment of a classical subject, made Genaux’s grounding in the eighteenth century absolutely clear.
Ms. Genaux entered into each song [of Loewe’s setting of ‘Frauenliebe’] as if it were a small, intimate scene on the stage. After each one, she extracted herself and adjusted her state of mind for the next, approaching each song afresh, and committing herself with all her heart and soul. Loewe’s keen psychological perception and her intelligent and intuitive response made a compelling case for this superb work. …his [Loewe’s] setting is robust and deeply moving, especially in Ms. Genaux’s penetrating and passionate interpretation.
Vivica Genaux turned from the Germanic world to Spain [in songs of Garcia, Rossini, Serrano, Chueca & Valverde and Gimenez] – a milieu especially close to her through her Mexican mother.” “Again, Genaux created not only a unique mood for each song, but a character and a setting, which she acted out through expressive gestures, and this she continued to do throughout the rest of the evening.” “Even for Rossini, the verve and spirit of these imitations of the Spanish style is astonishing, as were Genaux’s performances. Her articulation of bel canto ornamentation was sharply etched and brilliant.
Ms. Genaux had all the energy, imagination, and charisma to span the full range of intense moods and colorful scene-setting these treasures [zarzuelas] demand.
Genaux, inundated with applause, gave two encores, splendid, full-blooded, and warmly felt renditions of Neapolitan songs. Her spirit in these was not too much different from her Spanish repertory, but Naples would not be Naples without its Spanish heritage.
The program and the performance were matchless in themselves, but the mere opportunity to hear one of the great operatic voices in such intimate surroundings as the Tannery, which seats only 290 people, was extraordinary. One could savor Vivica Genaux’s every nuance and gesture, not to mention the effect on her performance of this close contact with her audience.
-Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review for the Arts, September 1, 2008
Of her concert with La Cetra in Istanbul
The long anticipated Istanbul debut of world-renowned Baroque and Rossini interpreter Vivica Genaux, with the Swiss period ensemble La Cetra, directed by Italian conductor Andrea Marcon, will go down as one of the main events of the 2007-2008 concert season in Istanbul. T he Alaskan born mezzo-soprano, with her powerful, straight-toned chest voice, a lovely falsetto in the upper range, a carrying power remarkably evenly distributed throughout her supple two-and-a half octave range-all the while possessed of impeccable intonation and musicianship-is a singer of our time who simply must be heard.
For any audience member who knows Genaux’s (2005) award-winning Virgin recording of Vivaldi’s Bajazet with Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi, the next aria was much anticipated. To hear on a recording Genaux’s performance of the spectacular Farinelli aria ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ is to be astounded how any living singer can handle its two-and-a half octave range, its ubiquitous octave ornaments, running sixteenths, trills, extreme shifts of register, and its bravado and sheer virtuosity. But sometimes a recording can be one thing-and a real life, ordinary acoustic, weekday concert situation something completely different. Here, La Cetra gave an inspired rhythmic foundation which remained absolutely in sync with the soloist, and Genaux did the rest, vibrant, commanding and powerful, as always perfectly clear and on pitch throughout. There is scarcely more than a moment of rest for the singer throughout the entire spectacular aria. While this aria utilizes every part of its two and a half octaves, it centers itself more in the upper half. But her forcefulness in the lowest octave, cutting through the tutti orchestra, was again particularly memorable. The da capo variation (Farinelli’s), astoundingly agile.
-Michael Ellison, TheOperaCritic.com, March 18, 2008
Early music ensemble La Cetra, conductor Andrea Marcon and world-renowned mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux performed the works of Vivaldi, Handel, Mossi, Durante and Giacomelli in the concert that took place in Is Sanat Concert Hall on March 18.
Alaskan born mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, whose voice and acting I admired when I saw her for the first time in “Solimano” nine years ago in Berlin, came to Istanbul with La Cetra ensemble under the direction of Italian Baroque music master Andrea Marcon, and interpreted the arias mentioned above with great technical skill.
If Istanbul will be the cultural capital of Europe in 2010, and if I were organizing it, I would ask ‘How can I benefit from she who is a specialist in operas dealing with Ottoman and Turkish subjects when she comes to our city?
I would ask the question ‘Can we re-perform the Solimano production, collaborating with the Berlin State Opera in Istanbul?’ as well. Or, I would put my head together with Vivica to establish connections with the ensembles and musicians mentioned above for a new production and create new projects.
- Filiz Ali, Milliyet Newspaper, March 25, 2008
Of her concert performance in BIANCA E FALLIERO
(with Washington Concert Opera)
The expected star of the show was Vivica Genaux, the Alaskan mezzo-soprano who can sing coloratura like nobody’s business, as Falliero…” “Genaux’s technique is unique, involving a rapid-fire fluttering of jaw and mouth, but it produces a steady, even voice that flows from top to bottom without a hint of strain, like a stream of golden oil. Her big aria in Act II brought down the house.
- Anne Midgette, Washington Post, April 15, 2008
…her solo excursions were dazzling.
Her vocal figures were brilliantly clear, always in tempo and daring in the boldness of their execution. All was underscored by her rich, burnished tone. Brava.
- T. L. Ponick, Washington Times, April 15, 2008
Vivica Genaux has one of those voices, with an inimitable timbre and a ferocious technique…
…this was an incisive, marble-solid Falliero (in her red jacket and black ponytail, she also struck a wasp-waisted figure).
- Charles T. Downey, ionarts.blogspot.com, April 15, 2008
The expected star of the show was Vivica Genaux, the Alaskan mezzo-soprano who can sing coloratura like nobody’s business, as Falliero; and despite an announced allergy indisposition that initially muddied the center of her voice, she fully lived up to expectations. Genaux’s technique is unique, involving a rapid-fire fluttering of jaw and mouth, but it produces a steady, even voice that flows from top to bottom without a hint of strain, like a stream of golden oil. Her big aria in Act II brought down the house.
Genaux’s voice is not big, but the whole evening was scaled to her. Anna Christy, the Bianca, has an even smaller instrument, which she also wields without any strain to produce a lovely, artless sound, fresh as a girl’s, and it melded gorgeously with Genaux’s in their Act I duet.
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux is one of the finest early-music singers around, with an ability to pour out cascades of fast notes like a shower of gold pieces. She makes her first D.C. appearance in eight years at Lisner Auditorium in another rarity, Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero (April 13) an opera that long lay neglected until its exhumation during the ongoing Rossini revival. Two other promising young singers, Anna Christy and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (a much-hyped baritone from New Zealand), round out the cast.
-Anne Midgette, Washington Post, February 13, 2008
At Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, NY
A Voice Takes a Singer Between Male and Female Roles
She is an artist whose eager, confident manner on the platform exactly reflects the brightness, control and address in her singing.
There is a chocolaty richness at the bottom of her voice, but otherwise her basic tone is brilliant and forward. Her maneuvering around the range, her management of a quick vibrato that adds radiance (and that can readily move into a full trill) and her immediate sense of pitch all add to the impression of a singer who is not only in total command of her instrument but totally at ease with it as well, and delighted to be making it work.
What follows from this is that she does not sing songs as if they were autobiography, but presents them rather as art. So she has the freedom to assume roles, and to do so across the boundary of sex: perhaps it should not be a surprise that the same thrilling luster can speak – or rather sing – for male and female personae with equal aptness.
“In a recent recording she has tackled some of the hugely challenging arias written for the castrato Farinelli, and she started this recital with two of those, by Nicola Porpora: songs of delicious amorous distress and longing conveyed, as she showed, not by sentimental expression but by agility, clarity, a feeling for line and a perfection of ornament. She went on to three charming songs by Pauline Viardot and then Loewe’s “Frauenliebe,” where the same poems that prompted Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und Leben” are treated in a plainer style and brought to a somber conclusion, with the final text that Schumann omitted.”
-Paul Griffiths, NY Times Dec 20, 2002
GENAUX DAZZLES AT WEILL RECITAL
Vivica Genaux’s Weill Recital Hall concert Friday night was an impressive mixture of vocal fireworks, salon charm, Romantic lied, and Mediterranean high spirits that sent the capacity crowd out into the blustery rainy night with warm smiles and the satisfaction of hearing one of the day’s top young mezzos in fine form.
She opened the concert with the pair of operatic arias by the Neapolitan Nicola Porpora that begin her acclaimed CD, Arias for Farinelli, and sang them with the same sparkling virtuosity and miraculous breath control that made that disc so compelling. Here, as in the rest of the recital, pianist Craig Rutenberg was an outstanding partner; with his rounded tone and forceful playing, Porpora’s orchestration was never missed. Genaux’s interpretations encompassed both the dramatic aspects of the arias and their showpiece qualities – it’s a rare artist who’d dare open a recital with its most taxing numbers, in this case heavily ornamented music with machine-gunned rapid high notes and long, sustained phrases that would make ordinary mortals turn blue. She brought it off brilliantly, as if to say: ‘That was really me, not studio trickery, on that disc. Now let’s relax and have some fun.
The fun in question was a set of charming salon melodies by Pauline Viardot, the great 19th century mezzo, which Genaux sang with obvious fondness. In the last stanza of “In My Father’s Garden,” Genaux sang and acted out the lyrics, coy, but not cloying. The other songs were “Cossack Lullaby,” a lovely tune with an Eastern flavor, and “Madrid,” an affectionate dance for the voice.
The first half of the program ended with Loewe’s setting of von Chamisso’s poems, Frauenliebe. Yes, it’s the same poetry to which Schumann set his equally non-P.C. song cycle. These tributes to submissive 19th century bourgeois wives may have lost their sentimental punch, but Loewe’s rich melodies and expressive settings make for a pleasurable journey when sung with the sincerity and warmth Genaux brought to them. She has a very distinctive, brilliantly colored voice, yet she altered it beautifully to bring a sense of awe in the last stanza of “Sweet Friend, Thou Gazest,” and drained it of color for the words “Now the world is void” in the penultimate song.
After intermission, Genaux returned transformed, changing from her chic spangled blue pants suit to an off-the-shoulder burgundy and mauve gown with a ribboned bottom and a long mauve scarf, her hair gelled straight back. The audience loved it, anticipating a second half heavily laden with Spanish spirit.
First though, came Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos, the dramatic cantata that enabled Genaux to demonstrate plaintive pleading and angry coloratura outbursts as she sees her lover, Theseus, sailing away. She then took us to the other side of the Mediterranean, with a trio of Spanish songs by Rossini, full of fire and dash. In “Canzonetta spagnuola,” the scarf came off her shoulders and she vamped her way into a convincing gypsy flamenco ambience, spinning out luscious pianissimos and splashes of loud coloratura pyrotechnics on the repeated “ayees.
Genaux closed with a trio of zarzuela arias, drenched with Spanish folk influences and brought off with high spirits, ending with Gimenez’s “Zapatadeo,” with its mile-a-minute patter song central section that elicited delighted laughter.
Powerful singing, astounding agility, a colorful voice with an impressive range, a stunning mix of styles, languages, and periods. Who says song recitals can’t be fun?
- Dan Davis, classicstoday.com 12/13/02
In Anchorage, Alaska
Fairbanks native and rising opera star Vivica Genaux left no doubt in anyone’s mind why she has quickly become such a hot commodity on the international circuit. She displayed her technical prowess; her trills were flawless and effortless, with more notes per beat than could be counted. [In] the Haydn cantata ‘Arianna a Naxos’ her passionate delivery in the long work’s many contrasts proved an evening highlight. The showstopper was a set of three Spanish songs by Rossini. In ‘Canzonetta Spagnuola,’ Genaux’s abilities were at their peak. With everything from speedy vocal runs to incredible dynamic control, it was here that she proved why she’s become one of opera’s darlings.
- S.L. Guthrie, Anchorage Daily News, October 21, 2002
In Oderzo, ITALY
Vivica Genaux’s beautiful concert was the crowning achievement of the Oderzo Festival this summer. Though already internationally acclaimed for some years, Genaux is relatively new to Italian audiences. She is a lyric mezzo whose range extends from soprano-like peaks down to a rich low register. Her timbre is reminiscent of Teresa Berganza’s, especially in the zarzuelas she performed here. Rossini arias are perfect for her elegant singing and reveal all the smoothness and richness of Miss Genaux’s sound. In the final scene from Cenerentola, she exhibits her expertise for the coloratura roulades of ‘Non più mesta’ and hearing ‘Cruda sorte’ made us wish to experience her brilliant Isabella on stage soon.
- Giorgio Gualerzi, L’Opera, October 2002
In Pittsburgh, with the Chatham Baroque
As big a career as mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux has already had just barely into her 30s, a recital last night at Synod Hall in Oakland made it obvious that the best is yet to come.
It [her program] says volumes about the intelligent approach that Genaux has applied to her career. She is picky with her repertoire, but sings what she sings better than most in the world. She has few peers in the three Rossini mezzo-soprano roles of Rosina, Angelina and Isabella, and is now showing the world some beautiful, all but forgotten works. By avoiding roles that aren’t perfect for her, she keeps the integrity of her work at the highest level, though last night’s concert impressed those even expecting that level.” “From the first phrase until the end of the concert, Genaux displayed a disciplined technique and a keen stylistic understanding of the music. Her timbre is unique, with a gorgeous darkness that is beyond direct and easy description. Nary a note went without the proper support and her phrasing was graceful.” “She also had a complete sense of the greater purpose, that is the drama beyond each aria and recitative. Through voice and visage, these pieces opened up like a translation of an ancient tale, but flowering in an individual and fresh way.
- Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 23, 2000
Genaux’s vice is exceptionally rich in timbre, but with no heaviness whatsoever. Her agile technique must be heard to be believed. A former voice coach in attendance commented, ‘Vivica is the fastest voice on the planet’. But she has much more to offer than record-setting coloratura. Her emotional identification was riveting and she is an undeniably glamorous figure.”
- Mark Kanny, (Greensburg, PA) Tribune-Review, September 25, 2000
Ms. Genaux selected her works wisely and sang them with a stylish fluidity and a complete command both of the ornamental flourishes of Baroque music. Those qualities were immediately apparent in Vivaldi’s “Alla caccia dell’alme e de’ cori,” which opened the program. Here, and in a stunningly nuanced account of a cantata attributed to Domenico Scarlatti, “Bella madre de’ fiori,” her embellishments were appropriately florid and thoughtfully applied, and she varied them interestingly in the repeated sections. In the Spanish works — and particularly in the García encore, with its flamenco-like bent pitches — she sang with an ear for both the musical and emotional accent of the language. For a listener who heard Ms. Genaux give an affecting and skillfully ornamented performance in the title role of Rossini’s “Cenerentola” at Caramoor in 1996, the musicality and communicativeness of her performance were not surprising. What was striking, though, was the degree to which she is in control of her resources. In an opera performance, she projects a full-bodied, rich sound; on Monday she produced a light, transparent timbre that suited the intimacy of the setting.”
- Allan Kozinn NY Times 03/17/00
Ms. Genaux is a singer of great technical security and virtuosity, with a strikingly appealing stage presence and a lovely, unique vocal timbre. She has proved her mettle on the opera stage, where she strongly projects brightly comic personalities like Rosina in ‘Barber’ and forceful trouser-role characters in bel canto works. She delivered the recital’s Spanish works by Literes, Esteve, and Arañes with lilt and spirit and an instinctive feel for their rhythmic character.
-Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal, 04/10/00
At the Italian Consulate in WASHINGTON, D.C
Genaux stood before a luxuriant image of the theater in Verdi’s beloved town of Busseto. Listen to the voice (a very fine one) and imagine hearing it in a small jewel-box theater encrusted with gesso molding…. Genaux is a mezzo-soprano from Alaska in full, spring bloom of a growing operatic career.
She is naturally suited to the baroque and bel canto styles, with a voice that has in it both the duskiness of twilight and the freshness of morning.
Genaux’s best performances came in three Rossini songs she has recently recorded and in an encore, “Cruda sorte!” from the same composer’s opera “L’Italiana in Algeri.” The songs–(the “Ariette Espagnole”)–require a voice as sultry as Marilyn Horne’s bottom range and a sense of style as easy and feline as soprano Victoria de los Angeles’. Genaux bit into the meatiest, most seductive part of her voice, a sound that flirts with and insinuates itself into the ear. The aria demonstrated the fluency of her technique and an ability to traverse fast passages with ease.”
-Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, January 12, 2000