What the critics said…
…of her Orfeo at her Los Angeles Opera debut
Musically, this ‘Orfeo’ is very well done. Genaux, best-known for tackling the florid music that came just before and just after Gluck (notably Handel and Rossini), is an unusual Orfeo. She has a distinctive voice with the chocolate and brandy tone of a big contralto but the agility of a light-voiced mezzo. Her timbre changes notably in different registers, and her first utterances Saturday, an acidic cry of ‘Euridice’ against a chorus lament, were like an ugly slash in a pretty picture. She sounded all wrong. But that proved a kind of sucker punch. Her incredible flexibility keeps one listening in a state of incredulity. Gluck’s vocal music isn’t quite as plain as many singers make it seem; he didn’t want fireworks, but he expected decorous embellishments of the line. Genaux provides them, and they are exquisite, especially in the beloved aria ‘Che farò senza Euridice,’ her voice kaleidoscopically splintering color.”
- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2003
She uses her instrument with virtuosity; her vocal production is without effort, her coloratura easy and as sharp as a razor blade, each note full and the trills effective. ‘Che faro senza Euridice’ was expressive and rich in color and technical mastery.
- Noah Manne, Opéra International, February 2004
Vivica Genaux’s multi-faceted Orfeo was impressive throughout, displaying wondrous flexibility and a wide range of vocal colors, from anguished exclamations during the opening burial scene to a plangent ‘Che faro senza Euridice’.
- Carl Byron, Opera News, April 2004
Genaux has excellent diction and good technique. Her interesting, almost androgynous features make her convincing in a trouser role such as Orfeo.
- James C. Taylor, Opera, March 2004
Grandness arrives, too, in the form of Orfeo’s looming role in the story, given just the right balance of heft and gleam by the impressive American mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, Genaux’s shining touch and measured restraint in this gender-tweaking trouser role added to the general sense of things tilting towards the irrational.
- Josef Woodard, Opera Now, March/April 2004
Orfeo ed Euridice, starring the sensational mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, turned out to be the highlight [of the LA Opera season, thus far]. The stage pictures are stunning, and so are the performances: Genaux, in the trouser role of Orfeo, sings with honeyed tone, perfectly ornamented phrasing and a penetrating sense of pathos.
- Georgia Rowe, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA), December 12, 2003
The success of this opera depends largely on the abilities of the artist assuming the title role and it was sung here by the mezzo-soprano, Vivica Genaux. Tall and slim, she excels at trouser roles and her agile voice has a wide variety of dramatic colors. As Orfeo, her embellishments were few but she sang them gracefully. Her trills were superb with some beginning on the upper note and some on the lower. She was particularly effective in showing the depth of Orfeo’s grief over the loss of his bride as she sang with power, pathos and purity of tone.
- Maria Nockin, OperaJaponica.org, December 2003
This was my first encounter with Vivica Genaux, and it was a very felicitous one. She has a very nice mezzo timbre and full command of the baroque style, her ornamentation all done tastefully. Of course, she got a large ovation after ‘Che farò’, the only melody of this masterpiece known to the audience in the house. She had a terrific debut in the role, and I hope to see her soon in other operas.
- Luis Gutiérrez Ruvalcaba, mundoclassico.com, December 9, 2003
The Alaskan-born mezzo Vivica Genaux, singing her first Orfeo, provided focused tone and fluent line. She is a talented singer.
- Timothy Mangan, The Orange County Register, December 1, 2003
Vivica Genaux is a mezzo-soprano with much of the richness of a true contralto. Yet she has a fairly high register, too, and all of it is as smooth as cream and as sweet as honey. She truly carries the opera, and this young woman plays a character who is heartbreakingly sincere, calm yet emotionally charged.
- Carolyn Wightman, San Martino Tribune, December 4, 2003
Vivica Genaux is excellent in this ‘trouser role’ using her distinctive voice intelligently. Onstage for the entire opera, she performed with remarkable vocal versatility.
- Juliet Schoen, Malibu Times, December 18, 2003
Mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux displayed good control and brought in some highly musical moments, particularly in the duets.
- Marc Porter Zasada, Los Angeles Downtown News, December 8, 2003
The evening belonged, however, to mezzo Vivica Genaux, who has set the operatic world on fire with her best-selling Baroque recordings. Orfeo is a physically demanding part – almost two hours of nearly uninterrupted singing, and it’s a role whose entire drama is entrusted to that one voice. Genaux caressed her notes with care and affection; her trills and musical accents were superb.
- Charles Lonberger, The Beverly Hills Outlook, December 18, 2003