"The audience made an audible gasp as Jamie Barton, singing the role of the Gypsy Azucena in Verdi's "Il Trovatore," spat in the face of Count di Luna.
That moment, followed by the Gypsy's shriek as she was taunted by a fiery torch, ignited the blood-and-thunder drama which opened Cincinnati Opera's 95th anniversary season in Music Hall on Thursday
Cincinnati Opera assembled a cast of magnificent voices for its central roles. And sing they did – with voices powerful enough to reach every corner of Music Hall's vast reaches.
At the opera's center is the Gypsy, Azucena, who has seen her own mother burned at the stake. Thursday was Barton's first outing in this role, and it seems ideal for her out-sized, rich mezzo-soprano, with its arresting color in the lower range. She cast a spell as she wove her tale in "Stride la vampa," describing her mother's demise at the stake. Her Third Act scene with the Count was chilling, as she communicated heart-rending emotion as well as palpable terror for the fate she was facing."
–Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
"Standout among the voices – all of them well matched to their roles – was Barton as Azucena. She put distinct color and texture into her phrases, expressing the gypsy’s troubled state with keen expression."
–Mary Ellyn Hutton, Music in Cincinnati
"Making her Cincinnati Opera debut — and her role debut — as Azucena, Jamie Barton had a big success. Like the rest of the principals, she had no problem filling the large auditorium with sound. Unfazed by the wide-ranging vocal lines, she displayed a strong chest register (sparingly but tellingly used) and ringing high notes. Her account of “Stride la vampa” and “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” was gripping. She should be much in demand for the part."
–Joe Law, Opera News