September 14, 2018
Mezzo Jamie Barton and tenor Russell Thomas are receiving critical acclaim for their respective role debuts as Sara and Roberto in San Francisco Opera’s production of Roberto Devereux alongside acclaimed Elisabetta interpreter Sondra Radvanovsky.
Conducted by Riccardo Frizza, the Stephen Lawless production plays through September 27 at the War Memorial Opera House; tickets can be purchased via San Francisco Opera.
“As in every other appearance in San Francisco, Barton impressed greatly with beauty of tone and effortless projection in the huge, 3,200-seat War Memorial. The role of Sara is almost pure bel canto, and Barton’s floating of melodic lines was nonpareil. Vocal beauty was a hallmark of Thomas’ performance. Thomas’ vocal performance in duets and a splendid ‘Come uno spirto angelico’ were to be treasured.”
Classical Voice North America
“Splendid mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, as Sara, the Duchess of Nottingham, meltingly and sweetly expresses her guilt-ridden love for dashing Roberto Devereux, Earl of Essex. As the object of both women’s desire, tenor Russell Thomas made an endearingly strong first appearance in the title role. He unfurled lyric charm and verve in his arias and duets, and was particularly moving seeking to defend Sara’s honor in the touching Act 3 aria ‘Como uno spirto angelico.’”
San Francisco Examiner
“Radvanovsky had valiant, expressive colleagues by her side — mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and tenor Russell Thomas, the same ensemble that had contributed to the splendor of that ‘Norma’… Barton, as Sara, gave a performance rich in pathos and cloaked in the thickly upholstered vocal colors that make her singing so irresistible. Thomas brought tonal clarity and rhythmic vigor to the title role…”
San Francisco Chronicle
“As Sarah, Jamie Barton deployed her velvety, richly colored mezzo with beauty and urgency to limn the character’s desire and anguish. In the title role, tenor Russell Thomas made an indelible impression. His sturdy physique and clear, unforced tenor yielded an ardent Act I duet with Sarah, and he sang with elegant line in his Tower of London aria, ‘Come uno spirito angelico’.”
“As Elisabetta’s friend and innocent rival Sara, Jamie Barton deploys a richly layered, tightly controlled voice that she makes delicate or harsh to suit the drama. In a den of nasty personalities, Barton’s Sara is touchingly sincere. Russell Thomas’s Roberto Devereux [is] a smirking, conceiting poppycock, speaking noble-sounding words while flaunting the ring he knows will save him. He is at his most sympathetic in the third act, when he realizes he may not escape his fate. There, Thomas’s hefty, mobile voice gains a buttery softness and breaks off achingly at the end of phrases.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
“Barton set the tone with liquid phrasing and her signature burnished sound. With a pure, focused tenor sound, remarkably even from top to bottom, Thomas managed to convey both the nobility and anguish of the title character…He created a time-stopping moment as he awaited his execution with his Act III aria, ‘Bagnato il sen di lagrime.’”
Seen and Heard International
“The whole ensemble delivers near flawless singing and acting. Jamie Barton, as Sara…provides a warm, round, mellow mezzo voice with great resonance. Russell Thomas shows his versatility as the proud yet anguished Roberto. He extends his expertise with a clear voice that bridges styles and ranges, with highlights including his duet ‘Nascondi freni i palpiti’ with Radvanovsky and his prison lament ‘Come uno spirto angelico.’”
Berkshire Fine Arts