Voce at Pace

Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts

"Ms. Barton’s tranquil moments were among the most memorable on Sunday, hovering even in the arid acoustics of the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. Not that her delicacy was any real surprise. The recital came on the heels of her two performances as Adalgisa in Bellini’s 'Norma' at the Metropolitan Opera, in which Ms. Barton’s hushed prayers were as impressive as her full-cry high notes. Her tone both at the Met and at Pace, where she was inaugurating the Voce at Pace recital series, was remarkably consistent — as warm and full yet flexible and breathable as cashmere — from the piercing top to the simmering bottom of her range."
–Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

"She sang them with great control over every element of a singer’s performance. Her beautiful legato lines were exemplified by her distinct German phrasing and just the right amount of innigkeit. A markedly gorgeous spin characterized the lines of “Unbewegte, laue Luft.” Mr. Moore added to the style with turbulent renderings of Brahms’ music. They collaborated well stylistically and matched in color in all the right places."
–Kimberly Feltkamp, OperaRox

"2013 was the year of Jamie Barton. In June, the mezzo became the first woman to win both the Main and Song Prizes at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. In October, she delivered two ecstatically received performances as Adalgisa in Norma at the Metropolitan Opera — her first leading role at the house, where she made her debut in 2009, as the Second Lady in The Magic Flute. On November 3, Barton and pianist Bradley Moore inaugurated VOCE AT PACE: Rising Opera Stars in Recital, a new recital series at Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center that is designed to feature upcoming American singers.

The first thing one notices about Barton is her luminescent face and irresistible stage personality. She began the recital with Britten's arrangement of Purcell's "Music for a While," a recital staple she enlivened with a seductive wink and coy humor, barely treading above a ravishing mezzo-piano. The subsequent Brahms songs were phrased with poetry and nuance, but, with the exception of the dramatic "Von ewiger Liebe," the tessitura was consistently a step or two below the blossom of Barton's diamond-strong mezzo. If Barton was saving her resources for her impressive reading of four songs by Jean Sibelius that followed, the gamble was worth it. She exposed the depths of her vocal and dramatic talent in Sibelius's theatrical ballads. Each song possesses a narrative arc that allowed Barton to take the audience on a journey of love won, abused and lost. The highlight of this set was "Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings mote," in which a young girl, at first giddy with the excitement of her first love, resigns herself to death after discovering her lover's infidelity. Barton's voice and face were radiant with the girl's enamored naiveté and darkened with disappointment before fading into soft resolve.

Barton bubbled with personality and American-spun sincerity in songs by Charles Ives, then mixed poise with endearing earnestness in Elgar's Sea Songs, the same cycle she had performed at the Barbican Center for her U.K. debut in 2012.

Summoned back to the stage for an encore, her eyes alight with gratitude, Barton sang "Never Never Land," from Peter Pan, bringing her voice to a whimsical croon to sing about childhood fantasies. Persuaded once again by the audience's uninhibited applause, she returned to sing an impassioned version of Laura's aria "Stella del marinar," from Ponchielli's Gioconda — the only operatic selection of the afternoon — replete with a golden middle voice that ascended with ease to the aria's climactic end."
–Steven Jude Tietjen, Opera News

Beth Stewart