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Brian Jagde makes a “magical” and “brilliant” debut in HGO’s ‘Rusalka’
“Magical debuts make the myth alive in Houston Grand Opera’s Rusalka . . . Houston Grand Opera’s presentation embodies a magical sound that is out of this world . . . Making their HGO debut, two singers bumped this singing up from solid to brilliant. From his entrance late in Act One, tenor Brian Jagde stole hearts and took no survivors as the rakish prince . . . the prince (who, let’s be honest, kind of deserves it) has the infamous expiring aria. With his head on Martínez’s lap, Jagde sang his end so sweetly, his voice still abounding with vitality and breadth, it was hard to know we wouldn’t hear him anymore.”
Sydney Boyd – Bachtrack.com
“. . . Brian Jagde, an American tenor making his HGO debut as The Prince. This is perhaps the most stunning HGO debut I’ve witnessed this year. Jagde has a big, big voice, well-controlled, and it’s safe to say that no orchestra will ever drown him out. A striking actor, he looks the part of an archetypal prince.”
Theodore Bale – CultureMap Houston
“From her woodlake pool, mermaid Rusalka has seen a man (tenor Brian Jagde, making a most impressive HGO debut.) When he swims in the water, she can only embrace him as a wave. But she longs to touch him, to be one with him, to become human and have a soul . . . The final duet, as the Prince begs Rusalka for her kiss of death, is almost hymn-like in its purity and emotional intensity.
. . . it’s young Jagde, as the Prince, who’s the revelation. Broad of shoulder and oozing stage presence, he’s a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s acclaimed Merola program and is making a solid run through the international opera world in leading tenor roles in Butterfly, Carmen, Tosca, Ariadne and Bohème. His ringing tenor fills the enormous Brown Theater with effortless rich, full, masculine tone. He has something of the legendary Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers about him, and we hope he’s been signed up for future appearances at HGO. He is one to watch . . .
Dvorák’s sublime Rusalka is opera at its most grand, intimate and ultimately shattering. A standing ovation without parallel.”
D.L. Groover – Houston Press
“The Prince, sung by the big-voiced tenor Brian Jagde, falls into the pond. Rusalka’s heaving him back up on the shore sets the plot in motion. It is love at first rescue. It is easy to see why: Jagde has a magnificent and ringing tenor voice matched with an imposing physical presence. Surrounded by magical beings that he doesn’t fully understand, he plays the Prince as an all too human male with a wandering eye.
Jagde, a product of the Merola program at the San Francisco Opera, is on a steep trajectory to the top tier of singers. He was wonderful in the short, but critical, role of Narraboth last summer in a bizarre production of Richard Strauss’ Salome, a role he also sang in San Antonio. In 2012, also in Santa Fe, he was cast in a smaller role Strauss’ opera Arabella, but stepped in at the last moment to sing a heroic Caveradossi, a huge role, in Puccini’s Tosca, running concurrently.”
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs – TheaterJones
“As the fickle Prince, Brian Jagde courted her with a craggy, ringing tenor unfazed by the role’s stentorian demands.”
William Albright – Opera Magazine
“Brian Jagde was impressive from his first entrance, displaying the lyric beauty and vocal power that suggests a heldentenor in the making. Possessing a brilliant and focused voice, Jagde was a handsome Prince, with the ability to project the emotions of this character’s inner conflicts. The final scene, the Prince’s liebestod, was especially affecting.
Jagde’s current repertory is dominated by the great tenor roles of Puccini and Bizet’s “Carmen” [See Rising Stars: An Interview with Brian Jagde], with upcoming assignments in operas by Verdi and other Italian masters. As a winner of the Birgit Nilsson prize at Placido Domingo’s Operalia contest in Beijing (for artistry in works of Wagner and Richard Strauss), one can imagine, later in his career, Jagde singing virtually all of Wagner’s heroic tenor roles.”
“Rising star tenor Brian Jagde makes an impressive Houston debut as Rusalka’s ardent (yet unfortunately fickle) Prince, his soaring voice matched by a commanding presence . . .
Jagde exudes dynamism in his voice and manner as the heroic but all too human Prince, convincing in his rhapsodic ardor for Rusalka and also in his bewilderment at her silence and seemingly distant behavior.”
Everett Evans – Houston Chronicle
“Brian Jagde’s Prince has an emphasized masculine handsomeness, and a strong, resonant voice to match. There is little question why Rusalka chooses the young, attractive human over the sniveling amphibian, eschewing the notion that blood is thicker than water.”
Marcus Karl Maroney – ConcertoNet.com
“The best aspect of this performance, however, was the singers . . . Brian Jagde made his HGO debut as the Prince, comfortable in the leading-male role and singing with a solid tenor.”
Gregory Barnett – Opera News
“Handsome tenor Brian Jagde sang the role of the Prince, his voice truly rising above the music . . .”
Image: Lynn Lane for Houston Grand Opera