Friday, March 4, 2016

Praise for Mary Stuart

Joyce El-Khoury (Mary Stuart) and Keri Alkema (Elizabeth). Photo by Philip Newton 
"Kevin Newbury’s canny staging had the two rival queens circling each other like sleek jungle cats, building the excitement to their ultimate confrontation."- The Seattle Times

"...superlative singing is most certainly delivered (in Seattle Opera's Mary Stuart), along with some of Donizetti’s very best music." - Heed the Hedonist 

"...highly enjoyable, a costume drama with lots of fiery energy from the opposing queens." - The Seattle Times

"Williams’ Elizabeth, who took center stage on opening night, was a memorable portrayal ...Feisty and mighty, Williams’ soprano was equally impressive when she lightened it in moments of highly effective refinement. She knows how to command the stage and how to establish the power of her personality through gesture and movement, as well as with her voice." - The Seattle Times 

Mary Elizabeth Williams (Elizabeth I). Photo by Philip Newton

"...tenor John Tessier gave a beautifully finished and vocally elegant performance of what must be one of the most hapless roles in opera."- The Seattle Times 

"Stuarda is a role requiring extraordinary breath control. El-Khoury took on the role’s challenges in stride. Throughout the evening, she exhibited flawless vocal technique, while displaying her character’s dramatic vulnerability through her vocal expressiveness, projecting pianissimi and demonstrating a seamless legato." - Opera Warhorses

"(Joyce El-Khoury as Mary Stuart) was responsible for some of the best moments of the show, performing a fascinating Mary Stuart, both vocally and dramatically. She was a proud yet human queen, able to love, hate and forgive with the same passion and elegance ... Do not miss this soprano, probably one of the finest of her generation." - Opera World Spain

"Singing alongside El-Khoury on Sunday was Keri Alkema as a stellar Elizabeth, who began the show with a fairly heavy vibrato but rose to wonderfully incisive, powerful singing as the show went on. Her Leicester, Andrew Owens, initially sounded a bit underpowered, but he brought a touching urgency to his scenes with El-Khoury’s Mary."- The Seattle Times

Joyce El-Khoury (Mary Stuart) and Renée Rapier (Hannah). Photo by Philip Newton 
"Weston Hurt created a wonderfully empathetic Talbot, whose pleas for mercy went by the wayside... Renée Rapier’s Hannah was a compassionate and loyal lady-in-waiting." - Northwest Reverb  

"The buoyant, vital conducting of Carlo Montanaro, always one of the most accomplished of opera conductors, underscored this production’s artistic values with careful attention to the singers and hefty doses of musical drama." - The Seattle Times

"D.M. Wood’s lighting created some brilliant effects, the most vivid of which was the eerily backlit, spectral appearance of Mary in the last act." - The Seattle Times

Michael Todd Simpson (Cecil) with members of the Seattle Opera chorus. Photo by Philip Newton 
"Lord Cecil, sung by sonorous lyric bass-baritone Michael Todd Simpson, is the role that represents the raison d’etat first for Mary’s two-decade imprisonment and then for her execution. The role was performed with chilling effectiveness by Simpson." - Opera Warhorses

"Mr. Owens was a young and passionate Leicester... He has got a consistent technique (based on the head resonance) and a big margin to become a greater artist." - Opera World Spain

"Newbury’s directions were spot on, including the two girls who pantomimed blissful times in the past when Mary and Elizabeth got along as cousins. Never mind that such times were totally fictitious. Hey, this is opera after all!" - Northwest Reverb

"The chorus, prepared by John Keene, was absolutely riveting." - The Seattle Times

The Seattle Opera Chorus in Mary Stuart. Photo by Philip Newton