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Ailyn Pérez releases debut album; headlines “La traviata” and “L’elisir” in Europe

“Go and see her. A huge star in the making is amongst us,” urged the Opera Creep blog after Ailyn Pérez’s recital at London’s historic St. John’s Smith Square last March. Now a new recording recreates the Richard Tucker Award winner’s memorable performance on her debut album, which is due for U.S. release on the Opus Arte label in May. The soprano returns to Europe to reprise the title role of La traviata – fast becoming one of her signature roles – in Johannes Erath’s new production at the Hamburg State Opera (Feb 17–March 19), before joining her husband and frequent co-star, tenor Stephen Costello – also a Tucker Award winner – to headline Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Vienna State Opera (March 1-8). These European engagements follow a momentous winter at home in the United States, where Pérez added the Plácido Domingo Award to her numerous honors, and lit up the stage in the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s annual gala, which was broadcast nationwide as part of the Emmy Award-winning Live From Lincoln Center series on PBS.
Pérez’s upcoming debut album comprises a mix of studio recordings made at Abbey Road and live recordings from her March 7, 2012 performance – the soprano’s third in London’s prestigious Rosenblatt Recitals series. In a program featuring Spanish and French art song together with arias from Massenet’s Manon, her performance came, according to Opera Creep, “as close to my idea of perfection as possible.” The glowing review continued:
“She had all the spark of Beverly Sills with the glowing ample tone of Victoria de los Angeles, paired with engaging acting ability. … She more than brought the house down. … A transporting, transcendent experience. … If she is performing nearby (she has a debut appearance at The Met coming up) go and see her. A huge star in the making is amongst us.”
Also featuring vocal specialist Iain Burnside on piano, the resulting Opus Arte CD goes on sale in the U.S. on May 28.
Pérez’s first appearance as the doomed heroine of Verdi’s La traviata with the Royal Opera House on their Japanese tour was hailed as “an unalloyed triumph” (Guardian, UK). When she revisited the role at Covent Garden last season, she had already, as The Times of London observed, “made the part very much her own.” The UK Observer pronounced her “an ideal Violetta,” and amplified: “The bewitching young American soprano puts her heart into every twist of the drama. … Her performance was glorious, the quiet passages magical.” Similarly, at Cincinnati Opera last fall, Opera News concluded: “A strikingly beautiful woman, Pérez is eminently suited to Violetta, not only physically but vocally. Her dark tinged voice conveys tragedy.”
The soprano reprises her acclaimed portrayal when she returns to Hamburg State Opera in a new production from cutting-edge German director Johannes Erath, whose recent stagings include Massenet’s Cendrillon in Bern, for which he won the Götz Friedrich Prize. Co-starring opposite Pérez will be young Romanian tenor Stefan Pop as Alfredo, in which role the Jerusalem Post considered him “the outstanding personality and voice. His radiant lyric tenor and forceful expression made him an irresistible lover and made one understand Violetta’s love for him.” With conductor Patrick Lange on the podium, the new production bows on February 17.
Pérez headlines La traviata once again next season, when she reunites with her husband, tenor Stephen Costello, at San Francisco Opera in July 2014. Their collaborations’ potent chemistry consistently draws notice; the two are profiled in the cover story of Classical Singer’s February 2013 issue, and they were recently billed as “opera’s hottest couple” at Los Angeles Opera, while the Associated Press dubs them “America’s fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars,” and Vanity Fair depicts theirs as “a match made in verismo heaven.” It was Costello who sang Alfredo to Pérez’s Violetta at Cincinnati Opera, prompting Opera News to comment: “What moved this Traviata beyond highly competent routine were the fine performances of Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello, the husband-and-wife team singing Violetta and Alfredo.” They will be joined in San Francisco by Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey, who lends his “major-league instrument” (Opera News) to the role of Georgio Germont. Conductor Giuseppe Finzi leads the cast in the first of four performances of John Copley’s “handsome new staging” (New York Times)  on July 5.
Pérez and Costello also team up in March to sing Adina and Nemorino in Otto Schenk’s iconic staging of L’elisir d’amore at the Vienna Staatsoper (March 1-8). When they undertook Donizetti’s leads at Michigan Opera Theatre last season, the Free Press Music Critic was moved to marvel:
“The gorgeous singing, lucid acting, and palpable chemistry between Costello’s Nemorino and Ailyn Pérez’s Adina elevated the evening to a higher plane. … A winsome Adina, Pérez’s soprano brought a graceful élan and subtle gradations of color to Donizetti’s agile melodies. … From beginning to end, I had a smile on my face.”
The soprano remains in Europe for her much-anticipated debut at England’s storied Glyndebourne Festival this summer, when she makes her first appearances as Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff. Meanwhile, for those missing her at home in the States, Pérez may be seen in two videos from PBS: an intimate behind-the-scenes profile titled Introducing Ailyn Pérez,” and in a full recording of November’s 2012 Richard Tucker Award Gala from Avery Fisher Hall.
Details of Ailyn Pérez’s album release and upcoming engagements follow, and more information is available at the web sites listed below.
Ailyn Pérez: debut album release
Poème d’un jour
With Iain Burnside, piano
Opus Arte
Release date: April 23 (UK); May 28 (U.S.)
            “À Chloris”
            “L’heure exquise”
Obradors: from Canciones Clásicas Españolas
            “La mia sola, Laureola”
            “Al Amor”
            “Corazón, porqué pasáis?”
            “El majo celoso”
            “Con amores, la mia madre”
            “Del cabello más sutil”
            “Chiquitita la novia”
            “Je suis tout étourdie” from Manon
Turina: Poema en forma de canciones
         “Nunca olvida”
         “Los dos miedos”
         “Las locas por amor”
Fauré: Poème d’un jour
         “Adieu, notre petite table” from Manon
         “Si mes vers avaient des ailes”
         “Le rossignol des lilas”
De Falla: Siete canciones populares espanolas
         “El paño moruno”
         “Seguidilla Murciana”
Ailyn Pérez: spring engagements
Feb 17 & 20; March 15 & 19
Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg State Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Violetta) / new production
March 1, 4 & 8
Vienna, Austria
Vienna State Opera
Donizetti: L’elisir d’amore (Adina)
May 19, 24, 26 & 29; June 1, 6, 9, 15, 22 & 27; July 4, 9 & 14
Lewes, England
Verdi: Falstaff (Alice Ford) / role and house debuts

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