Saturday January 20, 2018 8:39 pm


What the critics said…

…a masterpiece of vocal grandeur and theatrical whimsy

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photo credits: then - ML Hart (San Diego Opera); now - Karen Kriendler Nelson (San Francisco Opera), Eric Mahoudeau (Opéra National de Paris); Michael Pöhn (Wiener Staatsoper)

One runs out of superlatives to use for Genaux. The Alaskan native, who spent time in Pittsburgh studying with Claudia Pinza, has such micro-control of her instrument that it seems her trachea employs nanotechnology. Every little vocal wiggle, turn and trill was so exact, yet bursting out of it was a lovely, slightly dark timbre. Isabella fits her personality as well as her range – she is in control of every situation, but charmingly so.
-Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 4, 2009

Vivica Genaux was charismatic as Isabella, a beautiful woman who enjoys fine clothes and her power over men. Genaux poses a remarkable mezzo-soprano voice which achieves miracles of quick clarity all the way to the lowest part of her range. She also unfolds wonderful legato.
-Mark Kanny, Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh), May 5, 2009


Vivica Genaux, the American mezzo who has become a Minnesota Opera favorite since her debut here in 1998, lived up to high expectations as Isabella, one of her signature roles. The brash, self-assured heroine is one of Rossini’s greatest creations and Genaux’s performance is simply spellbinding – her bel canto technique is flawless, and her precision in pitch and Italian diction, such as in the dressing room aria, “Per lui che adoro,” makes this a master class in how to execute Rossini’s decorated lines.
- Jay Furst, The Post Bulletin, November 12, 2007

The singers, led by mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux in the title role, are fully worthy of the production. Genaux is a stunner, her voice wonderfully free and fluid throughout its wide compass. She has a charisma that is not a function of volume, and she succeeds in painting a distinct personality with her coloratura.
-Larry Fuchsberg, The Star Tribune, November 12, 2007

…. it’s an imaginative staging full of superb singing from the entire ensemble, most notably Vivica Genaux in the title role…. The marooned chanteuse, Isabella, has become one of Genaux’s signature roles, and Minnesota Opera audiences benefit from her experience. Genaux is every bit as bold and confident as her character, demonstrating exceptional control both technically – especially on some breathtakingly rapid runs up and down her register – and in her warm but worldly wise portrayal.
- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press, November 2007

- at Anchorage Opera

Anchorage Opera’s current production features superb voices that make all those notes sparkle. Saturday’s opening night audience was particularly eager to see home-state diva Vivica Genaux, in the title role of Isabella; though she had previously given a recital here, this was her Anchorage debut in a staged work. The fans were not disappointed.

In Genaux’s Act I entrance aria, ‘Cruda sorte! amor tiranno,’ she displayed her large and lively stage personality, attentive acting ability, athletic vocalism and surgical precision.”

When Genaux took her bow, more than three hours after the show started, I saw something I had not seen before; a number of people didn’t merely stand as they applauded, they leaped up as if thrust by a spring and, I think, briefly lost contact with the ground.
- Mike Dunham, Anchorage Daily News, November 13, 2005

As Isabella, Alaskan mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux gave a peerlessly polished performance that combined extraordinary coloratura singing with charm and wit. Genaux’s physical grace makes her seem to float across the stage, and her port de bras rivals a trained ballerina’s. Her extensive experience with the role lets her find the tiniest movements to illuminate Isabella – she knows just when to twirl her parasol beguilingly and when to stretch languidly upon the divan. Arrayed in vibrant costumes by Daniel James Cole, Genaux’s dusky beauty and clear relish of the role make her bewitching. And then there’s her voice.

At intermission and afterwards, you could hear people trying to define Genaux’s extraordinary instrument. It’s silky, velvety, and luxurious, but with control that belies its smoothness. The richness and warmth of her lower range is extraordinary; her high notes are elegant and accurate. She manages Rossini’s difficult passages so seamlessly that there’s nothing to distract from pure enjoyment.
- Kristina Church, The Anchorage Press, November 17-24, 2005

- at San Francisco Opera

The borrowed Santa Fe production of Rossini’s ‘The Italian Girl in Algiers’ of 1813, on the other hand, was just ingenious and silly enough to keep this melodious trifle aloft…

Vivica Genaux and William Burden [were] vocally charming as the Italian Girl and her lover…
- David Littlejohn, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2006

Genaux revivifies ‘Italian Girl’ “

It’s remarkable what effect one slinky, determined redhead can have on an evening.

Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux soared into the War Memorial Opera House on Thursday night to take over the title role in Rossini’s ‘Italian Girl in Algiers’ for the San Francisco Opera. And as soon as she did, the production shook off its opening-nights doldrums to emerge as the sparkling, vivacious farce it is meant to be.

…But the evening’s true glory belonged to Genaux, the Alaska-born artist whose company debut was a masterpiece of vocal grandeur and theatrical whimsy. Genaux’s tone is not especially large, but it boasts plenty of potency, particularly in her muscular and slightly reedy chest voice. Her singing projects with easy aplomb, and she can shape a lyrical phrase with winning tenderness.

Best of all, she delivered Rossini’s rapid-fire coloratura with breathtaking virtuosity and precision, all without breaking a sweat. To hear these vocal fireworks sung so cleanly and crisply is to realize how little we sometimes settle for in this regard.

But vocal majesty was only half the story. Genaux is also a splendid singing actress, deploying her glamorous good looks and provocative stage presence with just the right mixture of self-confidence and self-parody. In an opera about the power of womanly wiles to conquer even a peppery Eastern potentate, Genaux embodied the theme down to her toes.
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, September 24, 2005

A true star doesn’t behave like one. At tonight’s cast change for ’The Italian Girl in Algiers’ in the War Memorial, when Vivica Genaux in the title role launched into her entrance aria, ‘Cruda sorte!,’ she could have tried to blow the walls down and dominate the performance. She didn’t. Singing the rapid Rossini ornamentation with impeccable technique, effortless agility and clear diction, Genaux focused on – and achieved – fitting into the evening’s brilliant ensemble performance.

The season-opening performance of ‘L’Italiana,’ on Sept. 10, wasn’t half bad, but tonight was twice as good: a whole. The entire first act came across as one of San Francisco Opera’s best Rossini performances, everything and everybody coming together in a rhythmic/comic/enchanting cohesion.
- Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice, September 23, 2005

The production acquired a burst of comic energy when, in her belated company debut, Vivica Genaux succeeded Borodina as the eponymous heroine, a brilliantly efficient impersonation and one that mined Rossini’s hemidemisemiquavers and roulades with fearsome accuracy.
- Allan Ulrich, Opera, January 2006

Alaska-born Genaux, who took over the role of Isabella on Sept. 22 in the current production at the San Francisco Opera, brings both spunk and vocal splendor to what has become a signature role (along with Rosina of Barber and Angelina of Cenerentola) since she first sang it at the Florentine Opera a decade ago. As the official ‘owner’ of the role, she may well succeed Marilyn Horne; some have even called Genaux, 35, ‘Horne in the making,’ though she is without the butch brusqueness that made the elder mezzo’s Isabella so formidable. Genaux, rather, is an outspokenly feminine Isabella.

Genaux balances her portrayal of Isabella with straightforward seriousness and a delightful touch of self-parody.

She’s not merely a whiz at bel canto; her every note is of intense beauty, and there’s just enough grit in her chest voice to make the men she confronts sit up and listen.
- Wes Blomster, Musical America, October 5, 2005

- at Opéra National de Paris

The mezzo Vivica Genaux’s irreproachable coloratura achieves marvels in the title role”
- Jacques Doucelin, Le Figaro, September 13, 2004

Heading the cast was the svelte, sexy Isabella of Vivica Genaux, an Italiana who for once physically lived up to Mustafà’s feverish physical fantasy. Vocally, her performance was remarkable for its energetic diction and fluent coloratura, while ‘Per lui che adoro’ brought a newfound broadness to the middle of her voice.
- Stephen Mudge, Opera News (online edition), October 2004

There’s no helping it: when a singer arrives onstage to boos that tumble from the balconies and bravos that leap up from the orchestra seats, a phenomenon is born. That’s what happened when Vivica Genaux took her bows as Isabella. All along, enthusiasm and furor accompanied the performance of the young American from Alaska, with her unique timbre – ambiguous, masculine and hardy, which recalls the phenomenal sound of Marilyn Horne, former queen of Rossini mezzos, a type unto herself. There are even the colors of a falcon, masculine and supple, endowed with a plunging lower register, impeccable coloratura and natural blending. Her casting in André Serban’s amusing production, featuring an attack by a giant pizza, a shipwreck out of Tex Avery, and a sofa out of Dali, only serves further to confirm the rare and great quality of this singer, who is by the way as stunningly attractive as a femme fatale, and who is better known for her travesty roles (such as her sober Bradamante in a two-piece suit in Alcina, last spring at this theater). Moreover, our record collection boasts Donizetti’s rare Alahor in Granata, where, in 1998, she was already practicing her scales with a young unknown, Juan Diego Flórez.
- Vincent Borel, Opéra, October 2004

And then there’s Vivica Genaux – radiant, beautiful and generous with her coloratura. She wraps up Rossini and hands him over to us – you have to see how she does it.”
- Luc Décygnes, Le Canard Enchaîné, September 15, 2004

The suitability of Vivica Genaux for the Rossini repertory needs no further proof. Her vocalism demands admiration, as well as her comic verve and stage presence.” “Particularly in the medium and high register, the singer reveals a magnificent instrument, powerful and rich in nuances: she knows how to be rebellious in the first act duet with Taddeo using sweet tones. She also draws the character of Isabella as frank and energetic, not hesitating to play the vamp to seduce Mustafa. This is a woman who knows perfectly how to manipulate Mustafa and Taddeo and Lindoro.
- Manon Ardouin,, September 13, 2004

The American mezzo Vivica Genaux portrayed a petulant Italiana with a voice of velvet, toying playfully with the high and low notes of the Rossinian vocalises.
- Claude Ollivier, Radio Notre-Dame, Sept, 11, 2004

Happily, one has been seeing much of Vivica Genaux in Paris lately (Alcina at the Garnier, Barbiere at the Bastille and Cenerentola at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées). For this Italiana, the Inuit [sic] singer created an Isabella of considerable charm who lit up the stage with her every appearance.
- Placido Carrerotti,, September 12, 2004

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