It was announced today that Ailyn Pérez – winner of the Richard Tucker, Plácido Domingo and Leonie Rysanek Awards – will make her Washington National Opera debut this March, stepping in for an indisposed colleague to star as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. This career milestone follows on the heels of the soprano’s recent success at London’s Royal Opera House, where she proved herself “a must-hear” (Guardian) in the title role of Manon and where “the show was stolen by the petite lyric soprano” when she sang Liù in Turandot; as the Telegraph’s review continued: “Pérez is currently a house favorite, and one could see why. … She floated pianissimi above the stave with spine-tingling ease.” After her first Kennedy Center appearances, Pérez returns to Covent Garden in the title role of Verdi’s La traviata (May 6–20), which she reprises at San Francisco Opera (July 5–13), in the meantime undertaking another Verdi heroine in the Hamburg State Opera’s new Rigoletto (May 24–June 1). In all four productions Pérez will be joined by her husband, tenor Stephen Costello, who also serves as her partner on Love Duets: from Puccini to Bernstein, her first recording as an exclusive Warner Classics artist, due for U.S. release in early June.
For the soprano’s Washington National Opera debut – an exciting, eleventh-hour addition to her schedule – she headlines L’elisir d’amore as Adina, a role with which she has already made her mark. At Michigan Opera, Pérez impressed the Detroit News as “vivacious and vocally agile,” while the Free Press Music Critic declared:
“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.”
For three of her four appearances in DC, Pérez will be partnered by Costello’s Nemorino; when the two performed excerpts from the opera together at the 2013 Richard Tucker Gala, the New York Times observed:
“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.”
For the March 23 performance, Pérez will sing opposite Daniel Montenegro, whose Nemorino reveals “tenderness and depth” (San Francisco Chronicle). Aspen Conducting Prize-winner Ward Stare will lead Washington’s revival of the celebrated Stephen Lawless production, about which the Washington Post confesses: “It is difficult to imagine any spectator so hardhearted as to be able to resist the sustained jollity.”
L’elisir is one of the operas represented on Love Duets: from Puccini to Bernstein, which also includes favorite romantic duets from La traviata, Rigoletto, Faust, Roméo et Juliette, Carmen, Manon, La bohème, and L’amico Fritz, as well as from Broadway’s Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Kismet, and West Side Story. Pérez’s rendition of “Depuis le jour” from Louise is included as a bonus. Recorded in London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Patrick Summers, the new album showcases what the New York Times calls Pérez’s “palpable chemistry” with Costello; the Associated Press dubs the pair “America’s fastest-rising husband-and-wife opera stars,” while their vocal compatibility prompted the Los Angeles Times to declare: “Pérez and Costello possess full-bodied voices and enjoy letting them bloom with Italianate leisure.” Love Duets marks the soprano’s first recording with her husband, as she discusses with him – interspersed with footage from the recording sessions – in a YouTube video available here.
Just after the disc’s international release on May 5, Pérez revisits one of the defining moments of her career, when – as the second understudy – she was unexpectedly called upon to sing Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata 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 returned 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.”
Pérez reprises her portrayal of Verdi’s Parisian courtesan at the Royal Opera House in Richard Eyre’s iconic 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, with Paul Wynne Griffiths leading the final performance.
The soprano lends her signature Violetta to one more Traviata this season, in the San Francisco Opera revival of John Copley’s take on the Verdian masterpiece, conducted by Giuseppe Finzi. Once again she will be joined by Costello’s Alfredo, and Quinn Kelsey, hailed as “the Verdi baritone we’ve been waiting for” (Chicago Sun-Times), will sing Germont.
Pérez turns to another favorite Verdi heroine at Hamburg State Opera, in a new Rigoletto treatment from Andreas Homoki, General Manager of the Zurich Opera. When she sang Gilda alongside Plácido Domingo in a concert rendition of the opera’s third act, during Covent Garden’s gala tribute to the distinguished tenor, the Guardian considered her performance “pristine.” The upcoming German production features Italian baritone Franco Vassallo in the title role, with Costello as the Duke of Mantua, and Croatian conductor Ivan Repusic on the podium.
Ailyn Pérez: upcoming engagements
February 28; March 4, 7 & 10
Royal Opera House
Puccini: Turandot (Liù)
March 20, 23, 26 & 29
Washington National Opera (debut)
Donizetti : L’elisir d’amore (Adina)
May 6, 9, 12, 17 & 20
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Verdi: La traviata (Violetta)
May 24 & 29; June 1
Hamburg State Opera
Verdi: Rigoletto (Gilda)
July 5, 8, 11 & 13
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Opera
Verdi: La traviata (Violetta)
October 24, 26; November 1, 4 & 7
Houston Grand Opera (debut)
Verdi: Otello (Desdemona, role debut)