“The problem with many of the bel canto operas that composers cranked out by the dozens in the 19th century is that they often feel like nothing more than vehicles for their star soprano. The plus side, for a company seeking to revive one of these works today, is that all it takes is one fiery-voiced singer to carry the show.
That certainly seemed to be the recipe behind Wednesday’s concert performance of Donizetti’s “Parisina d’Este,” which the Opera Orchestra of New York presented at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center under the direction of Eve Queler….a preposterous plot ultimately faded into irrelevance next to the glittering performance of Angela Meade in the title role.
The final act contains some stunningly dark and desperate music, with a funerary chorus, ominous drums and a bravura aria for Parisina, “Ugo è spento,” in which she veers between shocked grief and vindictive rage. Ms. Meade’s plush soprano, with a silvery glint that sharpens when she sings forte, eloquently expressed her character’s volatility and pain. The leaps, runs and ornaments of this role, which presses at the extremes of a soprano’s register, held no terrors for her.”
— Corinna da Fonesca-Wollheim, New York Times