Ailyn Perez Sings Violetta from Hamburg to San Francisco in 2013-14
During her 2013-14 season, rising-star soprano Ailyn Pérez - winner of the 2012 Richard Tucker Award and the 15th annual Plácido Domingo Award - embodies Verdi's iconic Violetta on both sides of the Atlantic. The Chicago-born singer portrays the composer's tragic heroine in Verdi bicentennial stagings of La traviata at Hamburg State Opera (tonight, Sep 20-27) and Ópera de Oviedo in Spain (Oct 13-19), with 2014 productions at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (Dec 31-Jan 6), London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (May 6-20) and San Francisco Opera (July 5-13). Reviewing her 2012 triumph in La traviata at Covent Garden, The Observer of the UK called Pérez "an ideal Violetta... The bewitching young American soprano puts her heart into every twist of the drama. Her performance was glorious, the quiet passages magical." But it's not only Violetta this season for the soprano, as she returns to New York for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall (Nov 17) and joins tenor Stephen Costello - her husband - for a duo recital at the KimMel Center in Philadelphia (Dec 17).
The soprano's return as Violetta at Covent Garden caps a string of three lead roles she will perform at the great London opera house in 2013-14. She takes on an impressive schedule of leading roles this season, including the title role of Massenet's Manon (Jan 31-Feb 4) and Liù in Puccini's Turandot(Feb 17-March 10). Her history with the company dates back to a show-stopping last-minute performance of Violetta in 2010 during ROH's tour of Japan. Reporting on the evening, The Guardian called the performance "an unalloyed triumph" and noted that the audience "jostled to take photographs of a smudged, photocopied picture/biog of Pérez that had been hastily stuck on a noticeboard to announce the change. They were assembling evidence to prove they were there at the unveiling of a new star."
The soprano's debut solo recording, Poème d'un jour (Opus Arte), earned wide acclaim upon its release this past spring. In their review of the album, the New Jersey Star Tribune proclaimed: "Countless women sing the repertoire that Ailyn Pérez performs in opera houses: Mimì in La bohème, Violetta in La traviata, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro. But only a few who bring something extraordinary to those roles achieve recognition that goes far beyond the typical opera sphere. Pérez...should be next on that list." Opera News also praised her, saying "Two excerpts from Manon, taken from a live recital with Burnside, show the soprano at her best - lively, engaging, sparkling with color and vocal personality. ...her luminous natural vocal color is enchanting."
Pérez was the first Hispanic singer to receive the Richard Tucker Award in its 34-year history. Opera News described the soprano's winning charms at length:
The phrase "an embarrassment of riches" might have been invented to describe the combination of talents that belong to Ailyn Pérez...who truly seems to have it all. A lovely voice with a timbre like nobody else's? Check. Musical imagination? Check. A beautiful face with enormous brown eyes that can make any tenor or baritone weak at the knees? Check and double check. Acting ability that can break an audience's collective heart? Get out your Kleenex: This woman can jerk tears like a champ. Add to all these virtues an impressive appetite for hard work, a sharp sense of humor and a rare capacity for kindness, and you have something of the measure of Pérez.