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DJCarmen

Critical acclaim for ‘Carmen’ at San Francisco Opera

May 31, 2016

“In this hard-scrabble concept, Don José stood out as the clueless romantic, and Brian Jagde sang the “Flower Song” with all the passionate abandon of an adolescent in love for the first time.
Heidi Waleson – Wall Street Journal

“Bizet’s score remains just as exciting as ever and (though there won’t be a rose between anyone’s teeth) the principal cast and chorus are fabulous. Brian Jagde’s lyric tenor chops are enthralling, his rendition of Don José’s Act 2 aria, “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” (The Flower Song) is dazzling. Brian’s ascension on the phrase that leads to the sustained high B-flat is delivered gently and seamlessly, the tonal quality is jewel-like. Even at the opening night performance, he knocked it out-of-the-park. As thousands cheered.”
Sean Martinfield – Huffington Post

Brian Jagde’s Don José alone gave us goosebumps, holding nothing back emotionally as he gave stentorian notice that the force was with his instrument.
Lee Eisman – Classical Scene

“. . . the final scene between the proud and reckless title character and her spurned lover Don José pulses with an almost frightening charge . . . this is a raw, emotionally confrontational Carmen, insisting that the audience look straight into the eye of passion’s pitiless storm.

Mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts and tenor Brian Jagde were magnificently real in their final, fated scene . . . Jagde, his voice by turns chastely pleading, menacing and desperately stretched, staggered like a puppet coming loose from his strings. Here is the final, inevitable undoing of a beefy, hometown boy who gets in over his head with a woman who has reeled him in and cut him off. It’s a terrible, transfixing thing to witness . . . that climax delivers the evening’s crowning blow . . . the second two [acts] pay off with sustained high dividends. When Carmen and Don José circle each other in that bullring, they’re playing out a destiny that’s much bigger than the two of them . . . Stunning and dramatically compelling . . . ”
Steven Winn – San Francisco Classical Voice

“Tenor Brian Jagde portrayed Don José. He gave a perfect rendition of the difficult aria “La fleur que tu m’avais jet.” Even his pianissimo singing of the final note was as smooth as silk.”

{Tenor Brian Jagde vertolkt Don José. Hij geeft een perfecte vertolking van de moeilijke aria ‘La fleur que tu m’avais jetée’. Zelfs zijn pianissimo gezongen slotnoot is zacht als zijde.}
Maria Nockin – Place de l’Opera

Tenor Brian Jagde is fully charisma-equipped, and his lirico spinto is an amazing instrument, capable of producing violent knife’s-edge outbursts as well as an aching, tender finish to the Flower Song. In the final confrontation with Carmen, Jagde’s thunderous tone and physical size (especially compared to the petite Roberts) makes this one of the scariest Joses I’ve seen, and places Carmen much more in the position of pure victim. The choreography of the final kill is raw, brutal and bloody (fight director Dave Maier) . . . Bieito’s stated purpose was to “approximate the gritty naturalism” of the opera’s source material, Prosper Merimee’s novella. To that I say, mission accomplished. I hope SFO continues to prod classical operas in this fashion.”
Michael J. Vaughn – Operaville

The best singing of the evening was provided by tenor Brian Jagde, as Don José, who hit a beautiful mixed voice high note at the end of the Flower Song and sang powerfully in the final scene.”
Opera Buff – San Diego

Brian Jagde sang a perfect rendition of José’s difficult Flower Song; even his pianissimo final high note was smooth as silk . . . Bieito gave us gritty realism on the stage and a great deal to contemplate as we ventured out onto the California freeways.”
Maria Nocklin – Bachtrack

Brian Jagde as Don Jose was incredible as the conflicted Don Jose. His voice matched both his viciousness and tenderness, displaying a superbly complex character.
John Daly-Peoples – National Business Review

Tenor Brian Jagde fired off the right notes as the conflicted Don José who falls for Carmen, and he dispatched his Act 2 “Flower Song” with passion and a pleasant ring. His handsome, boy-next-door corporal makes for a sympathetic take on the man driven to desperation over his crazy love.
James Ambroff-Tahan – San Francisco Examiner

“. . . tenor Brian Jagde as Don Jose. His singing is consistent and apparently effortless throughout his range; he navigates the difficult aria “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” with power and expression.
Ilana Walder-Biesanz – Stark Insider

The first priority is to acknowledge tonight’s vocal-musical excellence . . . San Francisco Merola/Adler alumn Brian Jagde as Don José, sang big and acted with passion . . . The music you hear and the drama you experience makes this a very good production, regardless of location or Bieito’s journey after Carmen.”
Janos Gereben – Opera West

Brian Jagde (a favorite artist for San Francisco audiences) did a sterling job as Don Jose, singing with the kind of passion and musicianship one longs for in a tenor.”
My Cultural Landscape

Roberts and Jagde sang splendidly, and their acting traced the arc of the Carmen-Don Jose relationship with clarity and truth. The dependence, defiance, self-destructionHeart-rending.”
WriterWorking

Brian Jagde, who I voted Adler Fellow of the season back in 2012 for his turn as Cavaradossi in Tosca, was a strapping Don José.”
Sly Wit

The music was very lively, fast paced and fun . . . Brian Jagde is far sexier than our Escamillo, so we are confused about why Carmen doesn’t prefer him.”
OnOpera

Brian Jagde . . . sings like the blazes, both in terms of drama and pure sound. He capped “La fleur” with a B-flat that was neither crooned nor bawled but in a warm, sustained mezzo-forte in defiance of the difficulty of that approach, and was gratifyingly balls-out in the last act.
Greg Freed – Parterre

Tenor Brian Jagde is making a meal of operatic cowards at SFO. We still haven’t forgotten his excellent Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and his current assignment singing Don Jose in all but one performance of the run is certainly testing his strength in the vocal department. No worry, he is up to the task, and his “Flower Song” proved it. As an actor, his handsome face and brawny physique can explain Carmen’s attraction to a hapless mama’s boy . . .”
Phillip Campbell – Bay Area Reporter

Tenor Brian Jagde, singing Don José in both casts, seemed more aware that he was being manipulated, coming off as more than a pendulum swinging between sex and violence.”
Stephen Smoliar – Examiner

“The opening-night cast, which alternates with a second set of key role players for a total of 11 performances, delivered vivid acting and consistently well-phrased and correctly executed singing . . . Tenor Brian Jagde’s Don José hit all the notes, even mustered up some delicacy for the finish of “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” …”
Harvey Steiman – Seen and Heard International

Tenor Brian Jagde, an alumnus of San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program and a former Adler Fellow, had the vocal chops for Don Jose . . .”
Richard Sasanow – Broadway World

Image: Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera