Artist of the Week: Angela Meade Continues Her Exploration In Early Verdi With ‘Stiffelio’By Francisco Salazar
The Verdi and Bel Canto repertoire has some of the most challenging music for soprano. It requires flexibility in the voice as well as high and low testitura. Coloratura runs are a must and clear diction and attention to the text are paramount. Among contemporary artists, Angela Meade has been championing this repertoire by not only performing the warhorses such as Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” and Bellini’s “Norma,” but has by performing some of the rarely performed works such as Rossini’s “Ermione” and Donizetti’s “Parisina d’Este.” In the end she is opening up these works to new audiences and reviving them.
A Role Debut
This week she will debut the role of Lina in Verdi’s “Stiffelio” in Bilbao. The work is known for its its inventive structure, dramatic intensity and for the range that Verdi writes for all its characters. However, it is also a work that is rarely performed. For audiences, this will be another chance to see Meade’s versatility and her expertise in the style. She has been an advocate singing a number of Verdi’s early works including Lucrezia in “I Due Foscari,” Giselda in “I Lombardi” and Elvira in “Ernani.” Meade combines her luscious legato line that is very important to the Bel Canto style and combines it with thrilling high notes to create a dramatic effect for this music. That is what makes her work in Verdi so exciting and that is what will be thrilling about her upcoming “Stiffelio.”
Looking ahead, Meade will also be making her role debut in Bellini’s “Il Pirata,” another big role in the Bel Canto repertoire this summer at the Caramoor Festival, where she will also be Artist in Residence. She will also be featured on Opening Night in a program that will include works from Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi.
Meade had her big break at the Metropolitan Opera where she stepped into Verdi’s “Ernani” and obtained a huge ovation. Since then the soprano has been in demand around the world and has sung in all the major theaters in the world. She won the Richard Tucker Award in 2011 which was promptly followed by the Beverly Sills Award in 2012. She is one of the few sopranos who sings all three Tudor Queens in Donizetti’s trilogy and has also been featured on two Live in HD performances at the Metropolitan Opera. Meade was also featured in the documentary film “The Audition” about the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and she sang “Casta Diva” from her signature role in Bellini’s “Norma” on the film. She also been a fixture at the Caramoor Festival where she has triumphed in Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia,” Rossini’s “Semiramide” and Verdi’s French version of “I Vespri Siciliani.”
For those who have never heard the soprano, Meade is featured on two recording. The first is a DVD performance of Verdi’s “Falstaff.” Here Meade shows her comedic powers in the role of Alice Ford and she is joined by an all-star cast that includes Stephanie Blythe, Ambrogio Maestri, Franco Vassallo and Lisette Oropesa.
The other recording that she is featured on is in Donizetti’s “Le Duc d’e Albe.” This recording is a sign to her commitment to rediscovering rare works in the repertoire and in this recording she is joined by an all-star cast that includes Lauren Naouri and Michael Spyres.