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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

Martinu’s The Epic of Gilgamesh with the Grant Park Music Festival

“Angela Meade’s plush dramatic soprano was made to order for the courtesan’s seductive solo”

Chicago Tribune – John von Rhein

“The four excellent soloists gave intensely affecting performances: the luminous soprano Angela Meade in the double role of the courtesan who seduces Enkidu and the goddess of love, Ishtar, whom Gilgamesh rejects, thus offending the gods who demand Enkidu’s death in revenge.”

Classical Voice North America – Marta Tonegutti

Donizetti’s Parisina d’Este with The Opera Orchestra of New York

“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

 

Verdi’s Requiem with the Boston Philharmonic

“While it was featuring the mezzo, Verdi’s score “hid” the soprano soloist, having her join ensembles and contribute a well-placed high note here and there, but never step forward with an individual statement. But all that changed in the work’s closing passage, “Libera me,” a scena in several sections for soprano and chorus.

On Sunday, soprano Meade delivered the work’s closing prayer with unforgettable eloquence, passionate one moment and serene the next, meeting the composer’s vocal demands, especially for soft, high entrances, with little apparent effort.

Meade’s uplifting rendition sent the piece out literally on a high note, touching off a prolonged ovation that also recognized the sincerity, seriousness of purpose, and manifold beauties of this performance.”

— David Wright, Boston Classical Review

 

“Zander is known for working magic, but much of it must have been conjured at the last minute, since Soprano Angela Meade was only original vocal quartet member. She stunned in the requiem’s final movement, Libera me, and when in Agnus Dei, her long duet with mezzo Marianne Cornetti was sublime. These two seemed, quite simply, meant to sing together.”

— Susan Miron, The Boston Musical Intelligencer

 

“A late winnowing of soloists — only soprano Angela Meade remained from the originally-announced lineup — added extramusical last-judgment overtones; the survivors made persuasive arguments for being among the elect… Meade turned her “Libera me” into an anthology of soprano stage sorrow, launching high-note salvos from a platform of controlled restraint.”

— Matthew Guerrieri, The Boston Globe

New Year’s Eve with the Philadelphia Orchestra

“The remarkable soprano, who headlined The Philadelphia Orchestra‘s New Year’s Eve concert, was in absolute breathtaking form as she returned to the ensemble for her first ever December 31st gala….Ms. Meade clearly demonstrated that mastery of the Italian composer (Verdi), bringing the audience to their feet after her powerful rendition of “Pace, pace, mio Dio!” from La Forza del Destino… She had the same effect on the crowd after intermission, causing quite a stir during “Sempre libera” from La Traviata. Her tenor husband, John Myers, was planted in the audience and surprised everyone when he began to sing in the middle of her performance. It was truly a remarkable moment….She also brought a level of warmth and tenderness to her interpretation of yet another iconic work from the operatic cannon, Puccini’s La Boheme, singing “Mi chiamano Mimi” with amazing sensitivity.”

— Bryan Buttler, Phillymag.com

 

Norma with the Los Angeles Opera

“A Powerful soprano with exacting control, Angela Meade offers a textbook example of how to handle every nuance of Bellini’s exquisite melodic writing for his title character.”

— Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times

 

“Meade made a formidable Norma. She’s got a big, lyric voice that can rise above fortissimo climaxes, yet remains nimble and supple enough for the graceful singing and pianissimo point required in bel canto.”

— Timothy Mangan, The Orange County Register

 

“Yet the takeaway from Saturday night is the performance of Angela Meade as the title character, a rendition where the word “sublime” doesn’t quite seem adequate. This American soprano, previously seen here as a soaring Donna Anna, has since taken The Met by storm and is a rare treat for Los Angeles audiences. Meade’s is a voice that immediately commands attention. It is large (the echo heard off the balcony walls) yet focused; it is powerful, thrilling, yet impeccably controlled. As the high priestess, an intensely demanding role, Meade was in complete control with vocal stamina to spare. She had all the technical aspects the role requires: thrilling high notes, tight coloratura, a trill, and ravishing pianissimos. “Casta Diva”, the musical redemption of the opera, was alone worth the price of admission. This is a special voice and a special musician.”

— Matthew Richard Martinez, Bachtrack

Scenes from Don Giovanni with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

“This was vocalism that made you think of older, grander days in the opera world.”

 Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Portland SummerFest

“Most valuable performer: Meade deserves high honors for her participation in the festival, her performance throughout Saturday night’s concert and — to choose just one moment — her scorching final measures of ‘Pace, pace mio Dio’ from Verdi’s ‘La forza del destino.’ If there had been a roof, she’d have blown it off.”

— James McQuillen, The Oregonian