Concerts in the Park

Metropolitan Opera

"Ms. Barton is a dynamo of a singer, wielding a large, deeply colored voice that never sounds heavy or ponderous. With a quick, energetic vibrato it sails all the way up to a resplendent high C, a note few other mezzos care to dwell upon. There’s a hungry, slightly aggressive quality to her singing, as if she can’t wait to grab the audience by the lapels and shake them up. She and Ms. Wagner began the program with a duet from Verdi’s Aïda, a vocal catfight between princesses. Ms. Barton almost immediately plunged her voice into a biting, almost guttural chest register, and returned to this feral sound over and over again during the scene. The effect was electric, like a thoroughbred straining against its rider’s control.

Later, she sang a duet from Il Trovatore in which the gypsy Azucena has a vision of being burned at the stake, expressed in a wild phrase plunging from high G to low B. As this last note echoed through Central Park, applause broke out, right in the middle of the scene.

Ms. Barton is not primarily a vocal savage, though, as demonstrated in the elegance of her legato in the fervent aria “Acerba voluttà” from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. The slow lyrical section of this piece lies low in the voice, but she kept the tone round and controlled, the sound of an aristocrat’s passion. Two scenes from Bellini’s Norma served as a reminder of her smashing Met debut in the role of Adalgisa last season and whetted the appetite for more mezzo showcase parts such as Donizetti’s La Favorite. If this had been The Jamie Barton Show, it would have been worth two hours of a summer night..."
–James Jorden, New York Observer

"The Norma selections were a reminder of Ms. Barton’s triumph in that opera at the Met last season. On Monday, as then, her focus and plummy tone were extraordinary, and she blasted both high notes and lusty deep passages. In a few passages of “Acerba voluttà,” from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, she sounded at the edge of her breath, limiting her flexibility and depth. But any losses of tonal fullness or allure were momentary, and the generosity of her singing dissolved any reservation about her breath control. She took seriously — if also wittily — even a throwaway character piece like the Witch’s aria from Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel."
–Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times