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Ailyn Pérez sings three major roles at ROH in early 2014

Richard Tucker Award-winner Ailyn Pérez – the “lyric soprano who truly seems to have it all” (Opera News) – takes on a trio of starring roles at London’s Royal Opera House over the coming months. After launching the new year in the title role of Manon (Jan 31–Feb 4), she makes her role debut as Liù in Turandot (Feb 17–March 10), before giving her first scheduled Covent Garden performances in the title role of La traviata opposite her husband and fellow Tucker Award-winner, tenor Stephen Costello (May 6–20). Dubbed “America’s fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars” (Associated Press), the couple brought down the house in London two years ago, when the soprano stepped in as a last-minute replacement to partner her husband in Verdi’s masterpiece.
Starring with Costello: La traviata at ROH, plus Hamburg, San Francisco, new CD, and TV broadcast
This spring, Pérez revisits one of the defining moments of her career, when – as the second understudy – she was unexpectedly called upon to sing Violetta during the Royal Opera House’s 2010 tour of Japan. The Guardian judged her performance “an unalloyed triumph” that marked “the unveiling of a new star.” The following season, she once again stepped in at the eleventh hour to sing the role with the company, this time at Covent Garden. Pronouncing her “an ideal Violetta,” the Observer marveled:
The bewitching young American soprano puts her heart into every twist of the drama, from the impetuousness of her love for Alfredo…to the febrile emergency of her death. … Her performance was glorious, the quiet passages magical.”
This May, for the first time, Pérez reprises Verdi’s Parisian courtesan at the Royal Opera House in scheduled performances opposite Stephen Costello. With a real-life marriage styled “a match made in verismo heaven” (Vanity Fair), on stage she and Costello enjoy what the New York Times calls “palpable chemistry,” their vocal compatibility prompting the Los Angeles Times to declare: “Pérez and Costello possess full-bodied voices and enjoy letting them bloom with Italianate leisure.” The couple headlines La traviata in Richard Eyre’s iconic Royal Opera House staging, which “remains one of the most glorious productions in the operatic repertoire” (Daily Express). Grammy Award-winning British baritone Simon Keenlyside sings Georgio Germont, under the baton of Dan Ettinger, Music Director of the National Theatre Mannheim and the Israel Symphony Orchestra.
Pérez reunites with Costello for two further productions this season. She sings Gilda to his Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto at the Hamburg State Opera, in a production by Andreas Homoki – General Manager of the Zurich Opera – that features Franco Vassallo in the title role under Ivan Repusic’s leadership (May 24–June 1). And the two conclude the season with a reprise of their leading roles in La traviata, in a revival of John Copley’s production at San Francisco Opera, with Quinn Kelsey as Germont and Giuseppe Finzi conducting (July 5–13).
The couple looks forward to the spring release of their first album together: a recording of romantic love duets by Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Bizet, Massenet, Bernstein, and others, recorded for Warner Classics with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Patrick Summers. Meanwhile, the two Tucker Award-winners can also be heard singing Donizetti together in the recent broadcast of the 2013 Richard Tucker Gala on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, which is available for on-demand streaming here. According to the New York Times,
“In a deliciously comic scene with her husband and fellow Tucker Prize recipient, Stephen Costello, [Pérez] showed her sassy side, as [Adina] played hard to get in ‘Esulti pur la barbara’ from L’elisir d’amore. Each revealed a perfect grasp of comic timing in acting and singing.”
Title role in Massenet’s Manon at ROH
It was at the previous year’s Richard Tucker gala that the soprano offered a taste of her Manon, inspiring the New York Times to observe:
“Ms. Pérez brought a gleaming voice and agile coloratura technique to Manon’s brilliant arioso and coyly seductive gavotte (“Obéissons quand leur voix appelle”). Her voice has a distinctive timbre, with plaintive richness blended into its youthful bloom. … Ms. Pérez, a beautiful woman who commands the stage, has the makings of a major soprano.”
This winter, Pérez portrays Massenet’s tragic heroine in a revival of Laurent Pelly’s Royal Opera House treatment, which the Telegraph, in a five-star review, calls “magical.” Beverly Sills Artist Matthew Polenzani co-stars as the Chevalier des Grieux, with French-born conductor Emmanuel Villaume, Music Director of the Dallas Opera, on the podium.
In Puccini: role debut in Turandot at ROH, plus La bohème in Genova
Pérez’s way with Puccini’s vocal writing has already won accolades, as when Variety admired the way she had “breath to spare, hanging on to every line to imbue the music with nuance and innate fragility,” as Mimì in Los Angeles Opera’s recent staging of La bohème. In London, the soprano makes her role debut in another of Puccini’s great soprano roles: Turandot’s slave-girl Liù. The Independent calls Andrei Serban’s Covent Garden production “the operatic crowd-pleaser par excellence: a visual spectacular … complete with brilliant colors, masks, dancing, gigantic severed heads, and a Chinese dragon.” Joining Pérez in Puccini’s darkly erotic fairytale are Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin, reprising the title role performance with which she impressed at San Francisco Opera, and Korean tenor Alfred Kim as Calàf, the role highlighted by “Nessun Dorma.” Nicola Luisotti, Music Director of the San Francisco Opera, conducts.
The soprano returns to Puccini later this spring, when she reprises her signature portrayal of Mimì opposite Teodor Ilincai as Rodolfo in a revival of Augusto Fornari’s celebrated staging of La bohème at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, with Giampaolo Bisanti leading from the pit (April 5–15).
Full details of Ailyn Pérez’s upcoming engagements are provided below, high-resolution photos may be found here, and more information is available at the soprano’s web site:

Ailyn Pérez: upcoming engagements
Jan 31 & Feb 4
London, England
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Massenet: Manon (Manon Lescaut)
Feb 17, 20, 25 & 28; March 4, 7 & 10
London, England
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Puccini: Turandot (Liù)
April 5, 8, 13 & 15
Genova, Italy
Teatro Carlo Felice
Puccini: La bohème (Mimì)
May 6, 9, 12, 17 & 20
London, England
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Verdi: La traviata (Violetta)
May 24 & 29; June 1
Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg State Opera
Verdi: Rigoletto (Gilda)
July 5, 8, 11 & 13
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Violetta)
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© 21C Media Group, January 2014


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