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Critical Acclaim | Features

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

“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

Metropolitan Opera 50th Anniversary Gala

“Angela Meade gave the finest performance of the night in the trio “Qual volutta trascorrere (What wondrous pleasure I feel)” from Verdi’s “I Lombardi,” a gleaming soprano that teamed with tenor Michael Fabiano and bass-baritone Gunther Groissbock.”

Washington Post

“And while that was excellent on its own, things only got better when Angela Meade, Michael Fabiano, and Günther Groissböck came onstage. The trio of singers were perfectly matched, their voices soaring throughout Verdi’s glorious melody. Levine from the pit brought excellent balance from the voices and the orchestra, Chan’s violin an ever-present force. According to the program, Meade and Fabiano are slated to sing this opera in the future.”

WQXR Operawire, David Salazar

“Especially notable were Angela Meade and Michael Fabiano in a white-hot duet from Verdi’s I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata, which they are scheduled to star in in the future.”

WQXR Operavore, Fred Plotkin

“The evening offers real nuggets…Angela Meade electrifies in the trio of I Lombardi.”

Forum Opera, Jean Michel Pennetier

“The performers on Sunday included cherished veterans like Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming and James Morris; artists at the peaks of their careers, like Anna Netrebko and Joyce DiDonato; and younger singers on the brink of greatness, like Vittorio Grigolo, Pretty Yende and Angela Meade.”

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini

Verdi Requeim with the Houston Grand Opera

“Verdi’s Requiem has frequently been described as operatic (and sometimes criticized, primly, as too much so). A factor in this response is his evocation of types we can recognize from the theatrical stage: angelic soprano, matronly alto, ardent tenor, and authoritative bass. Each of the four soloists gave a deeply satisfying performance by capturing the moods and personae that Verdi wove into their roles….Making her HGO debut, soprano Angela Meade, too, demonstrated a wide range of vocal colors from thrilling ray-of-light brilliance (“Kyrie eleison”) to sepulchral gloom (“Tremens factus ego sum”).”

Opera News, Gregory Barnett

“Soloists Angela Meade, Sasha Cooke, Alexey Dolgov and Peixin Chen led the chorus of over 120 to triumph. Meade, sandwiched between the mass of voices behind her and the arcing, acrobatic bassoons and violins in front, rose out of the blanket of harmonies in a series of vibrant solos toward the end of the night. In a vibrant display of technique that was nevertheless devoid of showmanship, Meade and Cooke sang a duet, the Agnus Dei, that fluttered like clarinets. Cooke, singing an octave under the soprano, sounded not like she was under Meade’s voice but rather within her, like the high notes were enveloping the lower notes the way red velvet cake folds over icing between the layers.”

Houston Chronicle, Wei-Huan Chen

“Meade, in her HGO debut, boasted the most imposing voice of the solo quartet — full and rich, but also capable of soaring through the Requiem’s most ethereal moments. Thanks to her, Verdi’s outcries surged and his melodies flowed out generously. She gave a gutsy impact to the plea for deliverance that opens the “Libera me.” Yet in the a cappella section that followed, Meade’s voice floated heavenward in a luminous pianissimo.”

Texas Classical Review, Steven Brown

“American soprano Angela Meade made her HGO debut with a bang, lifting up this requiem to sacred heights. Her voice is as swarthy as Chen’s with some space to play…hers is a voice you’ll want to hear and never forget.” – Houstonia Magazine (02/13/17)

Houstonia Magazine, Sydney Boyd

Verdi’s Stiffelio with Asociacion Bilbaina de Amigos de la Opera

“Lina, Stiffelio’s adulterous wife, was Angela Meade. The American soprano has a broad and beautiful voice, with a sharp crystalline and powerful bass without having to resort, like so many sopranos and mezzos, to the voice of the chest in that lower register. She thrilled the audience in her beautiful scene of the second act, and was impeccable throughout the entire play.”

Mundo Classico, Jesús Aguado

“The top vocal honors fall to Lina, Angela Meade, with absolute sufficiency in all situations, sumptuous timbre…with so scrupulous phrasing, plus impeccable technical facility which allows a sharp attack on pianissimo with astonishing neatness.”

El cronista errant, Xavier Cester

Rossini’s Ermione with Theatre des Champs-Elysees and Opéra de Lyon

“In the title role, the American Angela Meade, impresses from end to end… The extent of her registers, the extreme variety of her singing, capable of the most violent impulses as well as the most intimate sounds, culminate in the great scene of the second act, the true climax of the score. The viewer is literally nailed to his seat, watching for the smallest metronomic variations.”

Classique News, Jean-François Lattarico

“in a brilliant scarlet dress American soprano Angela Meade, for the title role of Hermione, acclaimed late in the evening. From her first interventions, her vocal technique impresses. She keeps the public in suspense until the end of her moving “Di ‘che vedesti piangere” in Act II, widely applauded and saluted by the public … and the orchestra! Her vocal virtuosity, without any gratuitous demonstration but in the service of the vocalità – the voice as transmitter of the emotion, has hypnotized its listeners.”

Olyrix, Emmanuel Deroeux

“Composed for Isabella Colbran, Hermione supports the main role and shifts the pivot of the action usually held by Andromaque. The range of the role requires a dramatic soprano of agility, which Angela Meade personifies with audacity: the voice is ample, generous and powerful, as the American singer sings unsuspected pianissimi sounds in front of such a raw material, and has a vengeful aura in both acts, which will leave Andromaque a lot of room.”

ResMusica, Alain Attyasse

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena with Teatro de la Maestranza

“There are voices that, when they are heard live for the first time, impact you from the first note, where you recognize the exceptional timbre, the quality of the instrument, the beauty and the mastery of singing. The performance and the end is that unique taste that explains your love for the opera.That night, that voice, then become part of your operatic “history”, those days that you will later remember in the corrillos and talk with the somewhat geriatric comment of “I heard the Anna Bolena of Angela Meade’s in the Maestranza”.

The performance this past Saturday the 8th of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena can be described as a great success, highlighting the work of the two female protagonists, plethoric in the performance of their complicated but brilliant roles. I will not repeat again some of the virtues that the American Angela Meade deploys with her recreation of the queen Tudor, but to point out how with that vocal quality, the treasures provides an exceptional interpretation…full of Shades chiseled with mastery. Highlight the robustness of her instrument, much less light than what we are accustomed to hear on this paper but that allows you to traverse the whole range without any problem, with a treble never screeching, with a well audible and round bass. Power, sound, perfect projection, are other characteristics of its interpretation. Meade becomes the real protagonist of the work, not only for what Donizetti wrote, but for the absolute dominance of the scene and the completeness of the characterization of the queen finally decapitated. Difficult to highlight one or another moment of her work, but of course, the greatest enjoyment for the fan was his final scene in the Tower of London with a few notes of those that leave you stuck to the armchair. Once again, magnificent.”

Platea Magazine, Javier del Olivo

“These performances of Anna Bolena in Seville were highly anticipated, due mainly to the presence of American soprano Angela Meade at the head of the cast. The result definitely fulfilled one’s expectations: remarkable musical direction and a fine group of singers, with a protagonist who shone in a special way….Angela Meade was outstanding as Anna Bolena, especially in the last act of the opera, and particularly in the final scene. She was superb in the aria ‘al dolce guidami’; and she finished with an impressive ‘coppia iniqua’ – a true exhibition of technique and strength.”

Seen and Heard International, José M. Irurzun

“The score written by Donizetti is a lyrical tragedy that centers the dramatic charge on the love trio formed by Anna, Enrico and Giovanna, skillfully weaving a warp of feelings and emotions that are useful for writing some of the most beautiful arias of his literature. The performance requires a cast of powerful voices, capable of fulfilling the vocal demands of the work in the field of fate and coloratura, especially in the female roles. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to emphasize in this sense the colossal work of the soprano Angela Meade, the real queen of the scene, who on numerous occasions surprised by her clean and powerful timbre, her perfect tuning and diction, and her thoracic capacity to maintain long phrases full of colorings and treble that are almost impossible. From the initial romanza “Come, Innocent giovine“ to the final aria “Al dolce guidami “, Angela Meade was perfect in a powerful performance and full of subtle nuances that shows the ductility of her voice and her good taste and musicality.”

Opera World, Gonzalo Roldán Herencia

30th Anniversary Concert with Washington Concert Opera

“On paper, it looked like the women would carry the evening, and Angela Meade certainly did not disappoint. Hers is an old-school voice: big and solid, with floating pianissimos that she can swell into fortes as she flows her sound down the scale like an irresistible force, as well as individual notes of pure beauty. In an evening that focused on bel canto — the style of early-19th-century Italian opera by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini — Meade was a reminder that a powerhouse sound, as opposed to the lighter voices generally heard in this repertory these days, works just fine…Meade’s loose hair and large fabric wrap gave a slightly unhinged impression to go with the crazy characters she was singing.”

Washington Post, Anne Midgette

“The headliner was Angela Meade, a soprano of dramatic strength and natural musical skills. She opened with “O beau pays” from Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, a punishing slow aria featuring miles of exposed, high pianissimo writing, followed by equally demanding fast runs. Meade was up to all the challenges.

In the cavatina of the Act II finale from Bellini’s Il Pirata, the soprano deployed a masterful crescendo on a high note from pianissimo to forte, as well as shimmering chromatic runs up and down the scale. Not only does the robust sound of Meade’s chest voice continue to grow, the top C at the end of the cabaletta was focused like a laser. Even finer still was a smooth but intense rendition of “Qui la voce sua soave” from Bellini’s I Puritani, accompanied by wistfully muted strings and winds in the orchestra. Meade caressed all of the rubato stops and starts in the fast section with poise, matched step for step by Walker at the podium.”

Washington Classical Review, Charles T. Downey

“Though it is more effective, musically and dramatically, in the context of the full opera than as a concert excerpt, Marguerite de Valois’s ‘O beau pays de la Touraine’ from Act Two of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots has long been a favorite concert and recital number for sopranos. As sung in Lisner Auditorium by native Washingtonian—the state, not the District—soprano Angela Meade, the aria and its effervescent cabaletta were unreservedly enjoyable. On the form that she exhibited throughout the concert, in fact, Meade might have sung the most insipid, banal pieces in the soprano repertory and convinced the audience that they were masterworks. The limpid tones that she devoted to Marguerite’s contemplation were spun like silk…Hearing Meade’s voice move through Meyerbeer’s music with such ease, it was impossible to banish the recollection that the sui generis Dame Joan Sutherland is virtually the only singer in recent memory to have completely conquered Marguerite’s music on a scale befitting Grand Opéra. Meade’s timbre is nothing like Sutherland’s, but there is something of the great Australian’s grandeur in Meade’s vocal deportment. There are also elements of the exhilarating fearlessness of Cristina Deutekom and Marisa Galvany in Meade’s singing. At her best, as she was on this evening, she inspires memories of the Mexican soprano Gilda Cruz-Romo, a Metropolitan Opera stalwart in Verdi and Puccini repertory whose fiery bel canto singing in rôles like Bellini’s Norma and Donizetti’s Anna Bolena—rôles that are cornerstones of Meade’s repertory—is too little appreciated. The operatic world is ever sorely in need of a true soprano drammatico d’agilità, and Meade’s singing confirmed her status as today’s preeminent candidate for that distinction.

Closing the first half of WCO’s concert with Pirata’s extended mad scene for Imogene, Meade managed the aria’s cantilena with impressive legato, but it was her singing of the cabaletta ‘Oh, sole! ti vela di tenebre oscure’ that rightfully earned her the audience’s vociferous bravos. Conjuring Callas with her pointed delivery of the words ‘palco funesto,’ with the difference of Meade’s vitriol having been aimed at the fateful scaffold of Felice Romani’s text rather than the manager’s box, her top C at the scene’s end may have rung the bells of the distant National Cathedral.

Meade also sampled I puritani, offering a beautifully-phrased journey through Elvira’s haunting Act Two mad scene. Her voicing of ‘O rendetemi la speme’ was impeccably poised, and she sang the sublime ‘Qui la voce sua soave mi chiamava’ mesmerizingly, her legato caressing Bellini’s melodies with an ardent lover’s hand. The essence of the text of effervescent cabaletta, ‘Vien, diletto, è in ciel la luna,’ was audible in Meade’s vocalism, her coloratura truly seeming to penetrate and scatter the clouds of madness like soft moonlight. She ascended to the traditional, interpolated top E♭ with a gossamer touch, musing rather than blaring, her movingly innocent Elvira seemingly untrusting of her own emotional stability. The breath control alone that Bellini’s music demands is impossible for many singers, but Meade sang the scene as though coached in it by the composer himself.

It was a pity that Donizetti and his librettist did not give Gennaro a stronger grasp as Meade’s Lucrezia tossed a plethora of monumental, firmly-anchored tones to him. Beguilingly naïve in Huguenots, incendiary in Pirata, and unsettlingly bittersweet in Puritani, Meade swelled her golden lungs with the air of tragedy in Lucrezia Borgia….Meade possesses the vocal amplitude that is ideally suited to the music and the character. Her chest register, never pushed or guttural, thundered with power that would have earned Dolora Zajick’s applause, but, vitally, the snarls were Donizetti’s and Lucrezia’s, not Angela Meade’s. If human hearts responded to the electricity of notes, the mighty top D with which Meade crowned the scene might have defibrillated the poisoned Gennaro, Orsini, and their comrades back to life. The energy discharged in Lisner Auditorium was staggering.”

Voix des Arts, Joseph A. Newsome

 

Performance Santa Fe Recital at the Scottish Rite Center

“On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Performance Santa Fe presents recitals by artists in town to perform at Santa Fe Opera. The Scottish Rite Center is a Masonic temple built in 1912 containing an intimate theater. It houses a fully outfitted stage with a painted back drop and scrims created with the kind of fine workmanship seldom seen in today’s theatrical settings. On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of this setting, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America.

Wearing a dress with a black top and a red and black printed skirt, Meade and the black-clad Illick began their program with an emotion-filled rendition of the aria “Io son l’umile ancella” (“I am the humble servant”) from Francesco Cilea’s infrequently performed opera Adriana Lecouvreur. It showed Meade’s ability to immediately grasp the psyche of her audience in her capable hands.

They continued with three of the five songs Franz Liszt composed in the early eighteen forties to texts by Victor Hugo: Enfant, si j’étais roi (Child, if I were King), Oh, Quand je dors (Oh! When I sleep), and Comment, disaient ils (How, they asked). In the first song Meade sang a magnificent messa di voce, swelling to a fortissimo and diminishing to the finest thread of sound. A quick look at the text of Quand je dors tells the reader that it’s about dreaming of a lover. Meade and Illick’s opulent tones soon made the meaning clear. In Comment disaient ils Meade and Illick again showed the smoothness of their combined, well-nurtured lyricism. The soprano also demonstrated a full range of dynamics and the perfect trill we heard in Norma.

Vincenzo Bellini, the composer of Norma, wrote songs such as the familiar, melodic Vaga Luna and the less well-known but equally interesting Ma rendi pur contento. Neither song is “Casta Diva”, but Meade sang both with gorgeous tone and saved her golden age operatic ability for the next aria: “Pace, pace mio dio” from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Forza del Destino. Forza is no longer in the usual repertoire because big juicy voices like that of Zinka Milanov are hard to come by. A major opera company needs to revive Forza for Meade because she sings that aria magnificently and international audiences should be able to hear her perform it with orchestra.

Meade’s singing of Marietta’s bittersweet “Glück das mir verblieb” (“Joy that remains with me”) from Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s 1920 opera Die Tote Stadt left listeners contemplating the lost loves of their own lives as the artists left the stage. Illick and Meade returned to render thoughtful interpretations of three well-known songs by Richard Strauss: Zueignung and Allerseelen from Op 10, and Cäcilie from Op. 27.

For their finale, the artists performed “Ebben? Ne andro lontana” (“Well, then? I’ll go father away”) from Alfredo Catalani’s 1892 Alpine opera that ends in an avalanche, La Wally. Actually, Catalani had written the aria as a separate work but added it to the opera before its premiere. Maria Callas made the aria famous with her recording, but Meade’s rendition showed what a more voluminous voice could do for this piece. At its end she was greeted with a huge wave of applause. When we listen to Meade, we begin to know the sound of golden age singing.”

Opera Today, Maria Nockin

 

Verdi’s I Due Foscari with Teatro Real

“Angela Meade, the American Soprano has an instrument of enormous power, and as loud as the orchestra played (as they did yesterday) her voice was always heard over them thanks to a sound projection that reminded me of Brigit Nilson. Best of all is that all of this force is under her control and is able to achieve shocking sudden pianos and move easily through all of the agilities required by the score.”

Opera World, Mariano Hortal

“American soprano Angela Meade portrayed Lucrezia Contarini and she too was convincing. Her voice is especially well suited to the character, with sufficient amplitude and a beautiful timbre.”

Seen and Heard International, Jose M. Irurzun

 

Donizetti’s Le Duc d’Albe with Opera Rara

Angela Meade exhibits temerity and technical prowess in tackling the demanding role of Hélène. From the first the line rises high above the stave and Meade is dauntless in expressing Hélène’s all-consuming desire for vengeance.

Meade shows impressive strength across the whole range in ‘Au sein des mers et battu par l’orage, Voyez, ce beau vaisseau prêt à faire naufrage!’ (In the middle of the sea and prey to a storm, look, a fine ship is about to be wrecked!), building with astonishing power through the steadily climbing long-breathed lines, and the vitality of her exclamations to the crew to show courage would surely be inspiring to those in peril. She holds nothing back: no wonder the people fanatically revere her, ‘Quels accents! Quel langage!’ (What ardour! What words!). To complement such fervour, Hélène’s innate nobility of bearing and heart is made apparent in her Act 2 declaration of love for Henri; supported by a poised harp accompaniment, Meade produces a beautifully shaped line but makes intelligent use of vibrato and colour to suggest both the intensity and the fragility of the moment.”

Opera Today – Claire Seymour