Bellini’s Il Pirata in Concert at Caramoor (Imogene)

August 11th, 2017

“During the most vehement outbursts of the mad scene for the character of Imogene that concludes Bellini’s opera “Il Pirata,” the soprano Angela Meade, singing in a concert performance here at the Caramoor festival on Saturday night, really cut loose. She tore into fraught phrases, one moment leaping to high notes that blazed with steely sound and power, then the next dipping down to smoky, throbbing low tones. I was excited to hear elements of raw vocal intensity in her singing. This is just what many of her fans have been waiting for.

Ever since Ms. Meade made her professional opera debut in 2008, stepping in at the last minute for a performance of Verdi’s “Ernani” at the Metropolitan Opera, it has been clear that a remarkable new soprano has arrived. Her plush voice had enormous yet utterly unforced power. Her top notes could soar over a combined orchestra and chorus; yet her pianissimo high tones were even more impressive. Her technical agility and lyrical refinement were ideal for the florid bel canto repertory. All those qualities came through in her performance as Imogene on Saturday at Caramoor’s open-air Venetian Theater.

In recent years, though, she has been taking more chances dramatically. An acclaimed run in the title role of Bellini’s “Norma” at the Met in 2013 seemed a breakthrough. And her Caramoor “Pirata” was even more exciting. Here was a soprano so secure in the technique and style of bel canto that she seemed to know she could push herself out of her comfort zone into risky emotional terrain without undermining the beauty of her singing.

Ms. Meade will be busy at the Met this season, singing the title roles in “Norma” (later in the run of this new production) and Rossini’s “Semiramide.” Based on this performance, she seems ready.”

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini

“Angela Meade had a rousing success in the prima donna role of Imogene. She is a Caramoor stalwart, and the audience greeted her as a favorite daughter; in return, she offered a generous display of her remarkable vocal gifts. The large scale and solidity of her voice were no surprise; neither was the agility with which she maneuvered it through rapid passagework. But she demonstrated a wider range of vocal colors than ever before: in particular, a tangy frontal resonance that lent a newfound authority to declamatory passages. The decisiveness of her vocal gestures attested to meticulous preparation, but there was nothing studied in Meade’s presentation; instead, she performed with the freedom of a prima donna set loose in her natural environment.”

Opera News, Fred Cohn