Critical Acclaim | Features

Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at the Los Angeles Opera

“Impressively, Angela Meade, an American soprano who has what may be the best voice to become the next great Elizabeth, jumped aboard with next to no time to prepare. She had, by coincidence, just eight days earlier been starring in Bellini’s “Norma” at Teatro di San Carlo, the very house in Naples, Italy, where “Devereux” had its cholera-scare premiere. It also turns out that 11 years ago, Meade, then an emerging soprano, had sung Elizabeth in Lawless’ then-new production at Dallas Opera, in an alternate cast for runout performances at schools. Now, as one of the finest bel canto voices, she will star in the Met’s revival of its “Devereux” production in the fall. Meade arrived in L.A. on Tuesday, and with little time to prepare, she sang Saturday standing at the side of the stage at a music stand with a score. The production’s choreographer, Nicola Bowie, acted the role onstage. This meant there was some exceptionally fine singing. Meade’s voice has lustrous body and brilliant volume. There is dark richness that holds the potential for exceptional expressivity when that weight of sound is moved with graceful ease.” Los Angeles Times – Mark Swed

“Meade’s voice is a powerful instrument: resonant and refined… it was a thrilling reading of Elizabeth I. Meade has a true trill and easy coloratura, but it is really the range of vocal color she is able to convey which makes for a powerful dramatic experience. This served the vengeful monarch well. Meade was generous with her voice given the circumstances, offering thrilling interpolated high notes. If Meade continues with the remaining performances, bel canto fans should run, not walk, to snatch up tickets.” Bachtrack – Matthew Richard Martinez

“Donizetti’s opera, including the arias and recitatives written for Elizabeth’s role, is written in the bel canto technique, the most challenging style of operatic singing which demands clear articulation, projected enunciation, and incredible vocal agility. The demanding nature of the role made a quick replacement seem like a dream,… but soprano Angela Meade was able to step in and take over the role. Returning to the Los Angeles Opera five years after her titular performance in their 2015 production of Norma, Meade was able to rely on her vast repertoire, which included all of Donizetti’s pieces for Elizabeth. Due to her late arrival to the production, Meade sung Elizabeth’s role on the side of the stage, downstage left, while the production’s choreographer, Nicola Bowie acted the role in costume. Despite this, Meade’s performance left the audience in awe whilst immersing us into the inner world of Queen Elizabeth I….The star performance of the night is that of Angela Meade as Queen Elizabeth I. Although she only sings the part from the side, her performance is the most captivating and exciting of the night. Elizabeth’s incredibly technical arias meet their match in the form of the bel canto superstar as Meade effortlessly weaves between scales and trills, as well as singing the highest notes out of the performers. Her performance is that of a well-seasoned singer as she channels the power and vulnerabilities that made up Elizabeth. When she is betrayed, Meade’s performance becomes one of hurt, loss, and anger, wishing for her lost friendship, struggling to hide her tears, and finally reaching out to England on the map, a country she has completely given herself to. At the end of the opera you are hit with a sadness at her passing, but that is immediately taken over by a greater feeling of awe, a feeling which LA Opera’s production beautifully encapsulates as Queen Elizabeth I steps into her own box of memorialization, of legend, to be looked upon as a powerful figure in history. Regardless of the last-minute changes in casting, the Los Angeles Opera skillfully celebrates Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux with exceptional visual storytelling, creative production, and sung performances that bring the house down.” Flaunt – Armine Gulyan

“Taking the place…on exceedingly short notice is American soprano Angela Meade, whose classic vocals charge with trills, a coloratura-ripened vigor and an affecting vehemence as in when her character longs for Robert in the heart-stricken “Vivi ingrato, a lei d’accanto” (“Live, ungrateful man, at her side”). This number and the crushing fragility in “Quel sangue versato” (“That spilled blood / rises to heaven”) feel like an impressive pivot by the versatile Meade who just earlier sings the comparatively sanguine proclamation of love for Robert in “L’amor suo mi fe’ beata” (”His love was a blessing to me”). Elizabeth’s changing feelings and transformation, from adoration to vengeance and then ruefulness, is a wonder to behold and also delineates how the self-assurance and control that Elizabeth wields begins to dramatically wilt. It’s amazing to see Meade curl her vocal fist into an authoritative hammer that, on command, suitably softens and opens to reveal a beautifully tragic dove. On opening night (Saturday, February 22nd), Meade, who is set to again reprise Elizabeth in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Roberto Devereux” in September, didn’t quite know the blocking yet for this version, but was assisted by choreographer Nicola Bowie who acted as the pantomiming physical stand-in, in full regalia and all, while Meade, standing to the side, complemented Bowie’s graceful movements with an equally breathtaking voice to match. That being said, only five days later, for the second performance on Thursday, February 27th, Meade was not only ready to assume all responsibilities, but she carried them out like a seasoned and consummate professional.” LA Excites – Imaan Jalali

“Securing Angela Meade’s return to the Los Angeles Opera – where she had been stunning in the role of Norma was a major coup. As the Queen, Meade displayed the vocal power and brilliant technique that the role requires. Meade’s rich, superbly controlled vibrato and impressive coloratura was at it most resplendent for the opera’s final scene – one of the most powerful operatic scenes in all of Donizetti’s 70 operas. In Vivi ingrato Meade’s Elisabeth woefully sings of her despair at having signed the death warrant that led to her lover Roberto’s beheading. That chilling cabaletta that follows – Quel sangue versato al cielo – foretells the end of her reign and with it the Tudor dynasty. At the conclusion of Meade’s performance, the Los Angeles Opera audience erupted in a sustained ovation.” Opera Warhorses – William Burnett

“Among the many highlights were… Angela Meade’s rendition of Elizabeth’s famous cavatina, ‘L’amor suo me fe’ beata’… Angela Meade conferred the dignity due to the role of Elizabeth, but also imbued the part with a queenly imperiousness. In a sense, Elizabeth seems to fall victim to her own faults. This was especially evident in the final act in what is one of the opera’s most difficult and demanding arias, ‘Quel sangue versato’.” Seen and Heard International – Douglas Dutton

“But the true star of the evening was soprano, Angela Meade (Don Giovanni, Norma) who stepped in as the ”voice” of Elizabeth. Miss Meade, from a dark side of the stage, sung with poignant beauty and electrified the audience, receiving the biggest standing ovation of the evening. This tale of love, lust and betrayal in the Tudor royal court strays a long way from history, but makes a sensational plot. Add Donizetti’s evocative music, dramatic lyrics by librettist Salvatore Cammarano, and the brilliant cast, and it becomes timeless.” Indulge Magazine – Victor Riobo

“Stepping in with little time to rehearse, American soprano Angela Meade, who is a bel canto specialist brought her best game to a very difficult situation as the powerful, yet tormented Elizabeth….Showing vocal strength, projection and clarity of voice, her talent was apparent in the first few minutes. As the story progressed she got even stronger, if that is even possible, culminating in the famous and difficult aria “Vivi ingrato, a lei d’accanto” which showed off her command of the coloratura repertoire.” Living Out Loud Los Angeles – Humberto Capiro

Rossini’s Ermione at Teatro San Carlo

“The role of Ermione is very demanding, requiring a soprano with excellent technique, versatility and the ability to infuse her singing with dramatic meaning. Angela Meade is such a soprano, and she put on a commanding display. It was the dramatic intensity with which she was able to infuse her singing which made her performance so powerful. Agility and intelligence alongside the raw power she can employ created a formidable, but not necessarily an always delicate performance. Every phrase was enriched with a variety of dynamic and a colorful accents, in which dark and light contrasts were used to promote expressiveness, and promote a psychological interpretation…Her coloratura and trilling were finely rendered. Her voice resounded with quality…she was able weave a delicate filigree of sound at the upper end…in what was an excellent performance.” Operawire – Alan Neilson

“With Angela Meade, it is a higher degree that we reach: the American singer gives a lesson in singing and in particular in the second act, which is the one where the airs and the imprecations follow one another. First of all, the voice is homogeneous from low to high, always correct, always technically mastered. Then, as an exemplary product of the American school, it has a diction of rare clarity, and real Italian phrasing. Finally, it is an inhabited, colorful, interpreted song, with the desired pianissimi with the treble held, with an impressive breath.
She is undoubtedly one of the indisputable figures in this repertoire, and Naples was happy to have her celebrate the bicentenary of the work…she knows how to show the psychological folds of the character, sometimes lyrical, sometimes terrible, sometimes torn. She knows how to convey the complexity of a role that is not all of a block, only that of the villain as we see too often Hermione in the original Racinian. Rossini and his librettist have succeeded in delving into the character, revealing its contradictions and cracks: the music that accompanies his arias is astounding in finesse, variety, color, energy, it manages to convey both the tension and despair. And Meade manages to translate it all, with an unusual vocal presence and energy (ah his great final aria – che feci? Dove son? – which opens the final scene (and doesn’t conclude it) is a magnificent example of singing embodied. It is a great opera moment that we witnessed there.” Wanderer – Guy Cherqui

“This kaleidoscope where anger turns into pain, where tenderness competes with resentment, where the call without an echo turns into an insult, it is up to the performer to deploy it and train us in it. A challenge brilliantly held by Angela Meade, whose voice complies with all the requirements of the role, thanks to its very homogeneous range where the highs are brilliant and the lows are sound, and to its jumps, bounces and sustained sounds. In the second act, where the character’s mental and emotional disorder precedes a hallucinatory introspection followed by a cruel return to lucidity, the expressive palette leaves nothing to be desired.” Forum Opera – Maurice Salles

“the American super soprano Angela Meade triumphs….And here the San Carlo has dropped the ace of Angela Meade, American soprano with an equally impressive voice and physique. However, Meade is not just a joint: she can sing, her plans are very beautiful and her agility works too. Although little aided by direction, Meade is an interpreter, perhaps a little one-dimensional in her perpetual fury but often enthralling when she articulates incendiary and furious phrases such as: “And so dare a leftover of Troy? ” … the sumptuous, dark, full voice fills the great hall of the San Carlo with torrential authority.” La Stampa – Alberto Mattioli

Rossini’s Semiramide at the Metropolitan Opera

“In the title role of the queen who murders her husband and unwittingly tries to marry her son, the soprano Angela Meade gives her gutsiest Met performance since “Norma” in 2013, her coloratura fireworks amplifying her pride, guilt and fear. Even with 45 minutes cut from the score, this is a long opera — the conductor Maurizio Benini led a crisp, clear rendition that nevertheless struggled to find variety in the 105-minute first act — and a long part. But if Semiramide seems to tire Ms. Meade no more than it did when she coolly dazzled in it at Caramoor in 2009, her tone has shed the overly pearled sheen it had then; its silver is now warmer.” NY Times – Zachary Woolfe

“The reason for this third appearance in three consecutive centuries is simple: Angela Meade, the soprano whose high-horsepower voice and hummingbird nimbleness is a rare match for Semiramide’s semiquavers… Abdrazakov’s dark-alley baritone sets off Meade’s opalescent highlights….Each aria and duet is the vocal equivalent of an Olympic figure-skating routine. We ordinary mortals could no more sing along than we could levitate, twirl four times, and land on a speeding blade. And yet we sit in judgment not just of the feat itself but of the grace, fluidity, and passion with which it’s executed. Meade glides through one musical triple lutz after another as if she could keep going all night, and it hardly matters that her character is a homicidal manipulator and monster mom.” VULTURE – Justin Davidson

“Soprano Angela Meade anchored the cast with a fearless performance in the title role of the morally compromised and lovestruck queen, issuing a blizzard of sixteenth and thirty-second notes and dizzying leaps with expressive power to back them up. Her ode to love “Bel raggio lusinghier” bubbled and soared with little apparent effort… Rossini stirred the general’s fealty to the queen and her passionate desire for him together in the radiant quasi-love duet “Serbami ognor,” which Meade and DeShong turned into a memorable efflorescence of trills and scales Monday night.” NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW – David Wright

“Angela Meade marchent sur leurs pas également. Si l’on peut lui adresser un reproche ce serait de parfois (trop) chambouler la rythmique. Autrement, la soprano américaine propose une Semiramide qui possède les qualités pyrotechniques de Jessica Pratt et l’intelligence coloriste de Joyce DiDonato. La voix possède en live un timbre plus épais que ce que les captations aisément consultables en ligne laissent entendre. « Dolce pensiero » se conclut par un mi stratosphérique alors que ses variations de nuances et de couleurs dans les tutti du finale du premier acte (« Giuri ognuno… ») font regretter que celui-ci ait été tant amputé. En tout plus d’une demi-heure de musique passe à la trappe. Les coupes concernent en priorité les reprises des airs, des duos et même les canons de la fin du premier acte. Par voie de conséquence, tout ce qui permet aux interprètes de rendre justice à Rossini et d’exprimer leur personnalité propre se voit aussi restreint. Pourtant, cela n’empêche pas Angela Meade d’accèder au trône de l’art rossinien, si exigeant et subtil.” Forum Opera – Yannick Boussaert

“Angela Meade is a vocal powerhouse as the repentant Babylonian queen Semiramide, who schemed with Prince Assur to murder her regal husband, Nino. Semiramide has a falling-out with Assur in a scene that has some of her most intense utterances, and Meade handles them with aplomb.” Financial Times – George Loomis

“And this production is damn well sung, lead by the vocally beautiful Angela Meade… Heading an impressive cast, Meade lives as comfortably in her voice as most any singer could. Like those around her, the passage work is squeaky clean. And it’s rich and thrilling. Her comfortable, warm sound has weight you can hold, throughout her range. Her top is big and secure. Meade, with the help of a succinct libretto, is in every way exciting as this tortured and most interesting queen.” Zeal NYC – Mark McLaren

“Meade debuted the role at the Caramoor Festival several years ago and she’s fulfilling a dream of doing this production since she first saw a video of it. She did herself proud. If the role of the Babylonian queen has “simply too many notes” (as HRE Joseph II commented to Mozart in AMADEUS about ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO), Meade took them in stride. She was a force of nature, with gorgeous singing, superb articulation and the feeling that she could do anything.” BWW

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