Adalgisa in NORMA

Houston Grand Opera

"Mezzo Jamie Barton...former HGO Studio Artist and conquering international singer, supplies heft, smoky velvet tone, and incomparable artistry to good girl gone bad then good. Sometimes a second lead makes this opera her own – Marilyn Horne immediately comes to mind. When you hear Barton's glorious plangency, you want this opera renamed Adalgisa. She walks away with this production on a platter."
–D.L. Groover, Houston Press

"When mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, playing the young priestess Adalgisa, blended her rich tones with Monastyrska’s in their Act 2 due, “Mira, o Norma,” the mellifluous outcome recalled the classic pairing of Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne. Enough name-dropping. Those and other vocal exploits didn’t just supply aural delights. They drove home the passions that propel Bellini’s tale of a Druid priestess tormented by her illicit love for a Roman.

Barton equalled Monastyrska’s richness, nuance and impact. In Adalgisa’s first scene, which revealed her anguish about two-timing Norma, the darkness and weight of Barton’s voice captured Adalgisa’s heavy-heartedness even at a whisper. Every phrase was alive and expressive.

In the scenes rooted in Adalgisa and Norma’s tenderness, Barton and Monastyrska brought Bellini’s music a warmth and coziness that radiated throughout the theater. But Barton’s red-blooded tones also packed a punch in the more dramatic numbers, beginning when Adalgisa confesses her anxieties to Pollione. A couple of times, Barton let fly with riveting two-octave vocal salvos: The second one, in the lead-in to “Mira, o Norma,” made the duet’s euphony all the more powerful by contrast.

While Summers brought out the opera’s overall flow, he also — with the help of an assistant conductor right in front of the stage — gave Monastyrska and Barton ample time to luxuriate in the music’s most eloquent turns."
–Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review

“The wonderful mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, definitely upped the ante with her superb singing and committed acting. As the young virginal priestess torn over her love of Pollione and her devotion to her faith and also to Norma, Barton’s performance was absolutely thrilling. Flaunting a truly luxurious, rich-voiced mezzo reminiscent of the great Marilyn Horne, her Act one aria and subsequent duet with Pollione, sung by American tenor Chad Shelton, a fellow HGO Alumnus, was exquisitely phrased with a honeyed tone, even legato, and abundantly resonant chest voice. She also exhibited a secure high register, with blazing high B’s that soared through the Resilience Theater during her opening duet with Pollione and her subsequent duets with Norma. Both the Act one duet, “O Rimembranza” and the Act two duet, “Mira o Norma,” were absolute highlights, as Barton and Monastyrska easily spun out phrase after phrase of gorgeous legato while also seamlessly blending their voices in perfect triads, matching in both color and volume. During these duets, Barton particularly shone, not just because of her individual singing, but also for the manner in which she expertly provided harmonic support to her Norma.”
–Julieta Gomez de Mello, Opera Wire

"A star performance in Jamie Barton's Adalgisa... Barton showed her versatility in several registers of her voice, but most particularly the upper octave. It is exactly this trait that showcases how calling Adalgisa just another mezzo role is not telling the whole story. Barton was the most dynamic actress of the bunch, displaying her internal conflict especially vividly..."
–Andrew Schneider, Schmopera

“Barton, herself giving a spellbinding performance that was a master class of bel canto virtuosity and dramatic connection, joined Monastyrska in the celebrated Act 2 duet “Mira, o Norma,” both singers uniting their voices in beautifully blended thirds... Act 1 ends with a spirited trio…Monastyrska, Barton and Shelton vocally fire on all cylinders in this dramatic and musically challenging encounter…”
–Eric Skelly, Houston Chronicle

“[Monastyrska and Barton] accounted for the lion's share of the evening’s success by combining masterful bel canto singing with distinctive and powerfully persuasive characterizations of their roles. Barton was an ideal foil to Monastyrska: her sound, gutsy and raw, and her energetic stage persona captured the more youthful, irresolute Adalgisa in contrast to Norma's refinement and reserve. Monastyrska's and Barton's voices blended in their Act II duets to stunning effect: if the story begins with Norma and Adalgisa as rivals in love, it ultimately makes them strong allies for their principles.”
–Gregory Barnett, Opera News

“This Norma uses Pollione’s betrayal to launch two powerhouse women to sublime heights: soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska as Norma and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Adalgisa...Barton, whose voice transformed Wagner’s frumpy Fricka into utter sophistication for HGO’s Ring cycle, showed her breadth as an artist with Bellini’s ornamented bel canto, handling each turn and leap with silky ease. When Barton and Monastyrska embraced, singing, “For the rest of my life I shall always stay with you / We shall fight outrageous destiny as long as in our breasts our loving hearts shall beat,” their voices intertwined in a golden braid of technical agility and splendor.”
–Sydney Boyd, Houstonia

Beth Stewart