Soprano Angela Meade Makes Major European House and Role Debuts in Frankfurt Opera’s Edgar and Torino’s William Tell
This month, the first of two major house and role debuts takes Angela Meade – whose numerous honors include Richard Tucker and Beverly Sills Artist Awards – to Europe. For her first appearances at the Frankfurt Opera, the soprano sings her first Fidelia in concert performances of Puccini’s Edgar (Feb 16 & 18), before making her Italian debut with her first Mathilde in a new Graham Vick production of Rossini’s William Tell at the Teatro Regio di Torino (May 7-18) that will tour to Carnegie Hall next season. These European debuts follow on the heels of Meade’s “enormous success” (New York Times) in New York, where she recently headlined Bellini’s Norma and showed off her comic chops in Verdi’s Falstaff, both at the Metropolitan Opera, and the latter seen worldwide in the Met’s Live in HD series. She also graced a “dream team of opera singers” (New York Times) at a special Richard Tucker Centennial Gala, broadcast Live from Lincoln Center on PBS-TV.
Puccini’s second opera, Edgar (1888), is seldom performed, yet his distinctive voice can already be discerned in it. About her upcoming role debut as Fidelia, Edgar’s ill-fated heroine, Meade explains:
“As my first Puccini role, Edgar is a new adventure for me, and it’s taken me back to the studio! In my usual bel canto roles, it’s the beautiful line that’s most important, whereas Puccini lays more emphasis on the words. There are extremely gorgeous moments, such as Fidelia’s Act III aria when she is saying goodbye to Edgar, whom she believes has been killed in battle. The words and music are heartbreaking.”
Meade sings Fidelia for her first performances at Germany’s Frankfurt Opera, where she appears opposite fellow Beverly Sills Award winner and Academy of Vocal Arts alumBryan Hymel in the title role, with German mezzo Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Tigrana and Italian baritone Marco Vratogna as Frank. Marc Soustrot, chief conductor of Sweden’s Malmö Symphony, will lead both concert performances of Puccini’s rarely heard early work (Feb 16 & 18).
Meade has already proved herself in Rossini, wielding “her voluminous soprano and fine coloratura technique to elegant effect” (New York Times) in the title role ofSemiramide. All the same, her second role debut of the season, as Mathilde in Rossini’s grand opera William Tell (1829), marks something of a departure. She comments:
“Mathilde is an interesting part for me because it is one of the bridges between Rossini and early Verdi, like Mercadante’s Virginia, which I performed a few years ago at the Wexford Opera Festival. In William Tell Rossini was moving away from the ultra-florid style of The Barber of Seville and Semiramide and towards something approaching the early Verdi of Ernani or I Lombardi. Mathilde’s music, in keeping with her station as a Hapsburg princess, is stately, grand, and beautiful.”
Despite being composed almost four decades before his death, William Tell was Rossini’s final opera. Its premiere was triumphant, and despite the popularity of the overture’s famously galloping finale, the opera’s epic scale and extravagant vocal demands have rendered revivals few and far between. For her first appearances as the Austrian princess Mathilde – and indeed her Italian debut – Meade joins a strong cast in a new production of the opera seria from renowned English director Graham Vick, CBE, at the Teatro Regio di Torino. Slovak baritone Dalibor Jenis sings the title character, with American tenor John Osborn – one of the few great exponents of the notoriously high and challenging role – as Arnold, and Principal Conductor Gianandrea Noseda on the podium (May 7, 11 & 18). Next season, Meade and the cast will reunite to reprise their roles at New York’s Carnegie Hall (Dec 7), during the Teatro Regio di Torino’s upcoming U.S. tour.
These European debuts follow the soprano’s succession of triumphs in New York. In her company role debut headlining Norma at the Met, Meade “brought joyful passion” (New York Times) to Bellini’s high priestess: “She sang with new focus and fire, … acting with moving subtlety, singing generously and feeling deeply” (New York Times). TheNew York Classical Review added,
“Meade’s bel canto credentials are impeccable, where her creamy legato enlivens a rich, even and flexible voice. Norma’s entrance aria, ‘Casta diva’ began as a smoky, internalized invocation, and Meade challenged conductor Riccardo Frizza with drawn-out climactic phrases that showcased masterful breath control and musical poise. In recitatives and in the climactic ‘In mia man alfin tu sei,’ the soprano’s rich, firm middle voice was on display, and a blazing high D capped the great trio finale to Act One.”
Similarly, in her role debut as Alice Ford in Robert Carsen’s original staging of Falstaff – the company’s first new take on Verdi’s comedy in almost 50 years – Meade was one of the “standouts in the excellent cast” (New York Times). The Observer agreed: “The cast was generally terrific, particularly Angela Meade as the leading ‘wife,’ Alice Ford. Her full lyric soprano darted and swooped, with trills and high C’s neatly in place.” The Wall Street Journal found her “playful and a little dangerous,” and Opera Critic affirmed: “Angela Meade is an attractively coquettish Alice Ford, displaying superb comic skills and a playful sexiness. … Her singing soars.” As David Patrick Stearns marveled on WQXR, “Has Angela Meade ever been so at home onstage?”
Dubbed “the next great Verdian soprano” (Baltimore Sun), Meade looks forward to collaborating with the Jacksonville Symphony and Chorus on the Italian composer’sRequiem later this month (Feb 27, 28 & March 1), and to being a guest artist, under the baton of Pablo Heras-Casado, at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music gala in New York City (March 24). This summer she will unleash her bel canto in two concert performances of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia in her return to the Caramoor International Music Festival (July 12 & 18). In the meantime, her “magisterial rendition” (New York Times) of Verdi’s aria “Tu al cui sguardo onnipossente” from I due Foscari may be heard on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of the 2013 Richard Tucker Gala, which is available for on-demand online streaming here.
Tune in! Meade will be featured on WQXR’s Operavore, on February 15 at 12:30 PM ET, in conversation with soprano Deborah Voigt. More information about Angela Meade’s upcoming engagements can be found below and further details are available on her web site: www.angelameade.com.
Angela Meade: upcoming engagements
Feb 16 & 18
Oper Frankfurt (debut)
Puccini: Edgar (in concert; Fidelia)
Feb 27, 28; March 1
Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra & Chorus / Fabio Mechetti
New York, NY
Gift of Music Gala
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Pablo Heras-Casado
May 7, 11, 18
Torino, Italy (debut)
Teatro Regio di Torino
Rossini: William Tell (Mathilde)
July 12 & 18
Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia
Caramoor International Music Festival / Will Crutchfield
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