BARBARA QUINTILIANI sang the title role with a voice which reached powerfully over the very large orchestra without seeming effort, to the back of the giant performing space, and beyond. She demonstrated surgical control, whether nearly silent or making the rafters ring, and she made us feel what her character was feeling, from passionate love to betrayal and anguish.
BARBARA QUINTILIANI, last year’s imposing Norma, here gave the best performance. She offers a big, aptly Italianate sound that dominated the ensembles but could also float delicate pianissimi. QUINTILIANI handled the tricky entrance coloratura quite well and she can certainly soar; the voice has not only power and shine but weight at the bottom. Her Luisa was an impressive feat - plus a sympathetic presence.
The betrayal and vengeance came courtesy of soprano BARBARA QUINTILIANI, who was in excellent form. QUINTILIANI’s voice gleams, all brushed steel from top to bottom, with a finely-honed edge even in the headiest down. If she erred on the side of caution in the all-or-nothing-at-all, doleful-or-damning whiplashes of Beethoven’s concert aria “Ah! perfido,’’ the shimmer and spin never wavered. And two arias from Cherubini’s “Medée,’’ in its original French version, were superbly sung. “Du trouble affreux’’ was all escalating zeal, reserves of power welling up from within phrases, cresting in high, bright drama; “Vous voyez de vos fils’’ was a particular knockout, a silky plea laced with danger, the effortless legato, without warning, detonating with ringing incriminations. Her pacing, especially in the Cherubini, was scrupulous — intelligent, overlapping arcs — though the polished accompaniment consistently hung just behind the vocal line, rather than urging it on. The orchestra seemed to defer to QUINTILIANI’s sheer resonance, leaving her to provide the necessary impetus with timbre alone. Most of the time, it was enough.
“Norma’’ by Vincenzo Bellini is well known by opera lovers as a one-woman show, and BARBARA QUINTILIANI was in splendid voice. Performing the title role, in the open-sided Amphitheater, competing with crickets, barking dogs, audience members with bathroom problems and the occasional cell phone, she twined her powerful soprano around Felice Romani’s powerful words and touched hearts, without benefit of a microphone, all the way to the back row. She did it even in her gentlest, most poignant tones. But, she didn’t just sing well. This is opera and opera can appear larger than life to a contemporary audience, used to sarcasm and ultra-realism. Here was a Druid priestess, preparing to murder her own children for love of a Roman general, and I believed it. I cared about her decisions. She brought outstanding singing and outstanding acting together and made it seem natural.
BARBARA QUINTILIANI [is] a real dramatic soprano with a fiery timbre apt for the role, plus lovely control of floated pianissimos... she was formidable.
BARBARA QUINTILIANI earned every superlative. QUINTILIANI needed all the resources of her formidable technique for this incredibly demanding role; and she positively relished the fiendish coloratura, while descending easily into a dark chest register. Her varied palette was equaled by a full emotional range… totally at ease throughout, spinning a stream of golden sound, effortlessly negotiating leaps and extremes, and demonstrating superhuman stamina and breath control. QUINTILIANI deserves superstar status.
Maria Padilla is a brilliant vehicle for a fire-snorting bel canto diva, and Wexford found one in the American soprano BARBARA QUINTILIANI. She relished the flashes of vindictive coloratura brilliance and menacing descents into the chest register required by Donizetti for Maria. If there is any justice in the opera world, QUINTILIANI should be heading for superstardom… she has the vocal hardware to become a cult figure outside the glamorous opera circuit, with her gleaming timbre, fearless leaps between the extremes of registers and apparently bottomless reserves of breath.
BARBARA QUINTILIANI had a giant, beautifully governed soprano in the role of Leonora. She could release a full orchestra of sound, entirely in her voice, then draw it down to a whisper, even at the highest of pitches. It was a bravura performance.
The evening belonged, thrillingly and unequivocally, to BARBARA QUINTILIANI as Maria. With the current dominance of light-voiced bel canto singers, it was wonderful to hear a soprano with a voice of substantial size dig into Donizetti’s fiendish music. QUINTILIANI’s voice has a rock-solid core and a warm, slightly dark tone — a refreshing change from so many of the piping sopranos who specialize in this repertory. She has a remarkable range of colors at her disposal, her coloratura is superbly executed, and she possesses an immaculate trill. She also has one of the rarest qualities: an innate understanding of how to build this music to a thrilling climax, with fearless high notes. She proved a confident actress despite the handicap of...rather schizoid costuming. There’s always one performer who scores a sizable hit at the Wexford Festival, and this year, it was QUINTILIANI.
With her performance as Elvira, BARBARA QUINTILIANI showed that the brilliant potential of her early years has ripened, and the fruit is now rich, juicy and delicious. The shimmer of her high notes and her deep, sexy chest voice are more resplendent, and with every note she brings underlying dramatic intent and conviction. All the major companies should be scrambling to sign her.
Lucrezia…requires power, depth and personality. BARBARA QUINTILIANI brings all of these qualities to her performance. When all is said and done, this production is about QUINTILIANI as Lucrezia. Not long ago QUINTILIANI received an international vocal prize from the hands of legendary diva Montserrat Caballé, who, 41 years ago, became an international star overnight when she sang this role. If QUINTILIANI had sung last night’s performance for the opera fanatics of New York, the same phenomenon would have repeated itself.
What QUINTILIANI does with the role is almost unheard of these days: with her rich, dark-toned but surprisingly agile soprano, she fills every note and every word with such honest commitment and almost superhuman passion that she becomes her character and makes you believe her against all odds.