February 4, 2017
Mezzo Jamie Barton, fresh from being named winner of the 2017 Beverly Sills Artist Award, makes her role debut as Jezibaba in a new production of Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera.
Directed by Mary Zimmerman and conducted by Mark Elder, Dvorak's Czech fairy tale stars Kristine Opolais in the title role, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, and Eric Owens as the Water Sprite.
Performances run through March 2, and tickets can be purchased via the Met website. The February 25 performance will be streamed live in cinemas worldwide via the Met's Live in HD program.
“What makes this show bearable, if not indeed indispensable, is the presence of the magnificent mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Jezibaba. It’s hard to find adjectives superlative enough to describe her voice: huge and sumptuous, but with such broad possibilities of color that the singer can chill the blood with just a glint of steel in the tone. Though I didn’t care for the jokey take on the character Zimmerman imposed on her, I was flabbergasted at how passionately Barton threw herself into the performance. Lurching, heaving and writhing nonstop, she looked as if she might any moment explode out of sheer malevolence. If everyone involved in this Rusalka were operating at Barton’s level, the Met would have its biggest hit of the decade. As it is, the company might be better off condensing the opera to a single hour-long act called Hello, Jezibaba!”
New York Observer
“The real marvel of the cast was Jamie Barton, who was absolutely sensational as the sorceress Ježibaba. Her voice was a wonder in itself, a full, shady mezzo with harrowing power, and fierce fire in her chest. Of everyone in the cast, she had the most success in navigating the cartoonish aesthetic of the production, hamming it up just enough to embrace the comic elements of the role, but never forgetting its essential darkness. Barton brings tremendous presence to the stage, coupled here with a specific and deliciously wicked vocal characterization.”
New York Classical Review
"As Jezibaba, Jamie Barton, in a wonderful spiderweb dress, blended comedy and cruelty, her pungent mezzo taking on a fierce brightness."
Wall Street Journal
“Barton is a lot of fun here. Her low mezzo is irresistibly rich and colorful, epic in size and effortless. (I’ve seen a lot of Rusalkas and hence a lot of Jezibabas and she is the best by a large margin.) She also shows real comic flair in a villain mode.”
“Jamie Barton, a recent winner of the Beverly Sills Artist Award, is a delightfully campy villain as the witch Jezibaba. Her meaty mezzo is wonderfully deployed, especially during the transformation set piece, in which Zimmerman likens Rusalka’s metamorphosis to a surgical intervention. The only drawback is the role’s brevity in a rather long evening, leaving the audience craving more of Barton’s superlative work.”
“Barton, a mezzo from Georgia who is becoming a Met mainstay, is wickedly devious as Jezibaba.”
“Jamie Barton as Ježibaba was gloriously demented as the wily witch. She gets to play some delicious comedy and sings with such skill, you feel like she is really capable of casting spells with sound.”
NY Theatre Guide
"Jamie Barton’s devilish Ježibaba was the highlight. Surrounded by half-human/half-animal henchmen, Barton brought such electric charisma that it was hard not to find affection for the wily sorceress."
"The extraordinary Jamie Barton is the vocal star of this production and outshines even Eric Owens, just as she outshone Plácido Domingo in the Met’s Nabucco this winter. Barton and her critters are terrifying: Her cackle froze the auditorium’s giblets."
“As the crusty witch Jezibaba, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton dug into her lower range with some dramatically appropriate guttural effects, but more than her predecessor Dolora Zajick, maintained grace and musicality no matter how nasty her sentiments.”