Jezibaba in RUSALKA

Metropolitan Opera

“What makes this show bearable, if not indeed indispensable, is the presence of the magnificent mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Jezibaba. It’s hard to find adjectives superlative enough to describe her voice: huge and sumptuous, but with such broad possibilities of color that the singer can chill the blood with just a glint of steel in the tone. Though I didn’t care for the jokey take on the character Zimmerman imposed on her, I was flabbergasted at how passionately Barton threw herself into the performance. Lurching, heaving and writhing nonstop, she looked as if she might any moment explode out of sheer malevolence. If everyone involved in this Rusalka were operating at Barton’s level, the Met would have its biggest hit of the decade. As it is, the company might be better off condensing the opera to a single hour-long act called Hello, Jezibaba!”
–James Jorden, New York Observer

“The real marvel of the cast was Jamie Barton, who was absolutely sensational as the sorceress Jezibaba. Her voice was a wonder in itself, a full, shady mezzo with harrowing power, and fierce fire in her chest. Of everyone in the cast, she had the most success in navigating the cartoonish aesthetic of the production, hamming it up just enough to embrace the comic elements of the role, but never forgetting its essential darkness. Barton brings tremendous presence to the stage, coupled here with a specific and deliciously wicked vocal characterization.”
–Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review

"The production had a windfall in American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as the witch Jezibaba; Barton’s charisma and vocal power produced one of the sexiest performances of the season. As the surprise erotic center of the production, Barton’s dominance of the stage (and obvious pleasure in that dominance) was absolute. Barton’s massive mezzo erupts like a foghorn at unexpected moments; at other times it slides sinuously around Dvořák’s curvaceous folk melodies. In the potion scene, “Čury mury fuk” (abracadabra), Barton punctuates her movements like a dancer, putting meaning into each self-satisfied flick of a finger... At the conclusion of this ingeniously choreographed scene, Barton coquettishly pulls a pair of goggles down over her eyes, her lips curling in sensuous satisfaction. The change from Zajick’s performances as Jezibaba in the Schenk Rusalka was enormous."
–Heather Mac Donald, City Journal

"Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton was mesmerizing as Jezibaba, throwing herself physically into the role and singing with matchless power and control. Costumed as a Victorian granny, she was required to perform the role with a toothy sneering grin, exaggerated by her goth-like dark lipstick, but nothing deterred her. She has become one of the great treasures of our era."
–James L. Paulk, Classical Voice North America

"Barton can steal the show just by opening those velvet tonsils of her and letting the sumptuous sounds and array of colors burst forth. And she did. I'd listen to Barton anytime--oh, that velour!"
–Richard Sasanow,  Broadway World Opera

"As Jezibaba, Jamie Barton, in a wonderful spiderweb dress, blended comedy and cruelty, her pungent mezzo taking on a fierce brightness."
–Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

“Barton is a lot of fun here. Her low mezzo is irresistibly rich and colorful, epic in size and effortless. (I’ve seen a lot of Rusalkas and hence a lot of Jezibabas and she is the best by a large margin.) She also shows real comic flair in a villain mode.”
–Micaela Baranello, Likely Impossibilities

"As a gruesomely witty Jezibaba, Jamie Barton’s sensational dark mezzo showed much Wagnerian promise."
–David Shengold, Gay City News

"Jamie Barton devoured the lusty-nasty-witchy flailings of Jezibaba."
–Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times

"Jamie Barton was an excellent fit for the role of the witch Jezibaba. Her big scenes in Act I and III were powerfully sung, drowning out the little mermaid with her rich pliant instrument. She had enough gas for the big finish in Act III, leaving the audience stunned."
–Paul J. Pelkonen, Paper Blog

“Jamie Barton, a recent winner of the Beverly Sills Artist Award, is a delightfully campy villain as the witch Jezibaba. Her meaty mezzo is wonderfully deployed, especially during the transformation set piece, in which Zimmerman likens Rusalka’s metamorphosis to a surgical intervention. The only drawback is the role’s brevity in a rather long evening, leaving the audience craving more of Barton’s superlative work.”
–Patrick Clement James, Parterre Box

“Barton, a mezzo from Georgia who is becoming a Met mainstay, is wickedly devious as Jezibaba.”
–Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post

“Jamie Barton gobbled the lusty-nasty-witchy flailings of Ježibaba.”
–Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times

"Barton was electric as Jezibaba. Her take on the character was a “Satan-lite,” if you will, the character a fun-loving yet conniving villain. Her main interactions in the opera are with the tragic heroine, the witch getting to control the dynamics of the scenes throughout. Barton relished these moments, letting her gigantic instrument run wild throughout the massive halls of the Met. Her diction was delicious as she twisted every consonant or set of mixed consonants to fill out the portrait of a seemingly evil character that was simply having a ton of fun. Her phrasing had an aggressive quality, especially as she preyed on Rusalka to sign the contract, a literally selling of the soul to the devil. Her demeanor was darker in the final act, the sound more lethal in its accented brutality (though no less beautiful to listen to) and her glare dangerous."
–David Salazar, Opera Wire

"Jamie Barton was a vocal standout as Jezibaba, her rich and deep chest voice a special and memorable treat."
–Ako Imamura, Bachtrack

“The real find in this cast is American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton who, in both voice and temperament, creates an over-the-top witch, complete with cobalt-blue contact lenses and spider-web dress.”
–Lawrence D. Devoe, TheaterByte

“American mezzo-soprano force-of-nature Jamie Barton (Jezibaba), launches her magnificently voluptuous voice and blasts a wicked, maniacal cackle to blood-curdling effect.”
–Richard Carter, Blasting News

“Jamie Barton, the lavish, demonically-dressed Jezibaba, played the joy of wickedness with almost glittering eyes.”
–Heiner Wesemann, Der Neue Merker

“Jamie Barton’s Jezibaba was a clever and very entertaining witch. The young mezzo-soprano from Rome – Georgia! – is moving to stardom most rapidly.”
–Marlies Wolf, Riverstown Patch

“The mysterious witch Jezibaba is Jamie Barton, in cobweb crinoline and lorgnette, reveling in the role’s vocal affectations and wicked humor.”

–John Yohalem, Musical America

“The witch Jezibaba is mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who exudes charm and wit as the sorceress who combines all kinds of ingredients in her steaming well.”
–Fernando Figueroa, Bitácora

“Jamie Barton sang opulently as the witch Jezibaba.”
–George Loomis, Opera Magazine

“Jamie Barton, who created a truly original witch Jezibaba, deserves a special mention. Barton’s Jezibaba was cruel, amusing, perverse, and – above all – charismatic. The caricatured gestures which accompanied her impeccable vocal performance earned her a well-deserved place among the great witches of opera and – why not? – of cartoon.”
–José Antonio Palafox, Música en México

“Jamie Barton as Jezibaba was gloriously demented as the wily witch. She gets to play some delicious comedy and sings with such skill, you feel like she is really capable of casting spells with sound.”
–Jacquelyn Claire, NY Theatre Guide

"The most adventurous touch was...the witch Jezibaba, brought to vivid, scene-stealing life by the protean talents of mezzo Jamie Barton [and] Barton's wickedly funny conquests of her scenes..."
–F. Paul Driscoll, Opera News

"Jamie Barton’s devilish Jezibaba was the highlight. Surrounded by half-human/half-animal henchmen, Barton brought such electric charisma that it was hard not to find affection for the wily sorceress."
–Christopher Browner, Classical Source

"The extraordinary Jamie Barton is the vocal star of this production and outshines even Eric Owens, just as she outshone Plácido Domingo in the Met’s Nabucco this winter. Barton and her critters are terrifying: Her cackle froze the auditorium’s giblets."
–Josephine Livingstone, New Republic

“As the crusty witch Jezibaba, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton dug into her lower range with some dramatically appropriate guttural effects, but more than her predecessor Dolora Zajick, maintained grace and musicality no matter how nasty her sentiments.”
–David Patrick Stearns, Operavore

Beth Stewart