... tenor Brian Jagde is in the trenches, battling to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of important American tenors epitomized by Richard Tucker. Jagde’s Pinkerton in WNO’s Madama Butterfly was a burst of raw virility ... his nuanced acting and superb singing transformed his Pinkerton from a hedonistic rake into a man sensitive enough to recoil from the blood on his conscience."

Voix des Arts

“Whilst singers with greater name recognition amongst casual operaphiles prance and preen upon the world’s stages, peddling their tired warbling and wobbling as bona fide artistry, tenor Brian Jagde is in the trenches, battling to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of important American tenors epitomized by Richard Tucker. Jagde’s Pinkerton in WNO’s Madama Butterfly was a burst of raw virility, his boyish fervor tellingly complementing Butterfly’s childlike reticence. Goro’s demonstrations of the funny little house delighted him, and the febrile joy with which he sang ‘Dovunque al mondo lo Yankee vagabondo,’ hurling his golden top B♭ into the auditorium, was arresting. Then, his ‘Amore o grillo, dir non saprei’ was the libidinous credo of a young man who had not yet learned of love’s capacity to injure, the three top B♭s produced with giddy freedom. Pinkerton’s attraction to Cio-Cio-San is unquestionably primarily carnal, but Jagde sang ‘Vieni amor mio!’ with such open-hearted kindness and defended her against her family’s denunciation with such a heated ‘Sbarazzate all’istante. In casa mia niente baccano e niente bonzeria’ that he in those moments seemed not merely the owner of a bride but a husband. The tenor’s finesse gave his singing of ‘Bimba, bimba, non piangere’ and ‘Dammi ch’io baci le tue mani care’ a softness …

Jagde opted to join his Butterfly on the top C that ends their love duet, thrillingly expressing the lieutenant’s uncontainable desire. Returning in Act Three not as Cio-Cio-San’s savior but as the instrument of her final humiliation, Jagde’s Pinkerton grasped the enormity of the consequences of his actions, albeit too late to alter them. Pinned between the unspoiled girl who so earnestly deserved his love and the ‘sposa americana’ who demanded it, only flight could restore his peace of mind. The voice throbbed with emotion as he sang ‘Datele voi qualche soccorso.’ Pinkerton’s aria ‘Addio fiorito asil di letizia e d’amor’ is undeniably self-indulgent, but Jagde imbued it with self-recrimination, damning his own crassness instead of wallowing in self-pity. Pinkerton never reappearing as Cio-Cio-San writhed in the agony of her last breaths, his offstage calls of ‘Butterfly!’ tormented the girl as life deserted her … his nuanced acting and superb singing transformed his Pinkerton from a hedonistic rake into a man sensitive enough to recoil from the blood on his conscience.”

-Voix des Arts

“Her Pinkerton, Brian Jagde, has improved by leaps and bounds since he sang the role at the Virginia Opera (which also did the piece in 2011); his upper register was particularly ringing and strong … It was not only an impressive evening, but a moving one.”

Anne Midgette – The Washington Post

“Brian Jagde is just about equally perfect as Pinkerton. He has a gorgeous tenor voice that carries with it a special power opera lovers call spinto, which shifts effortlessly into the extra gear of sound and emotion and leaves the audience gasping.”

Susan Galbraith – DCTheatreScene

Pinkerton, tenor Brian Jagde, had all of the heroic vocal presence … In an impressive WNO debut, Jagde’s clarion top range rang out with ease and confidence, filling the large hall. His Pinkerton was all enthusiasm, full of frat-boy swagger and back-slapping vigor, and the power of his voice became a symbol of the brashness and insensitivity of the ugly American abroad.”

Charles T. Downey – Washington Classical Review

“Brian Jagde, in Mondrian-style jacket, made for an excellent Pinkerton, the cad par excellence with the careless charm of wealth, and the knowing luxury of being able to choose, enjoy and abandon several lives. He came forth with warm Italiante tone.”

Hilary Stroh – Bachtrack

“Brian Jagde makes his WNO debut in this run as well, though the DMV is familiar with his Pinkerton from a Virginia Opera production several years back (memorable/infamous for adding a “grown-up Trouble” character that observes the action). Jagde’s lieutenant is a well-known quantity by now, and for good reason—the consistent warmth and imposing size of his voice is simply thrilling in this music.

Stylistically this is a decidedly American Pinkerton: he employs a shock and awe strategy with Cio-Cio San, turning out big waves seductive sound, in contrast to, say, the more refined legato of Italianate Pinkertons merely moonlighting in the U.S. Navy. But he is certainly no less persuasive.”

Alex Baker – Parterre.com

“… Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton (played with a deep, rich, commanding tenor voice by tenor Brian Jagde).”

David Friscic – DCMetroTheaterArts

“WNO’s current production of “Madame Butterfly” at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House is one of the great ones. Saturday’s opening night performance was virtually flawless. The production’s setting and visuals were luminous, the singing was lustrous and the WNO orchestra was at the top of its game …

It was good to see tenor Brian Jagde again in the somewhat ungrateful role as the callow Pinkerton. We last saw and heard him in this role in a rather wobbly 2011 production of this work by the Virginia Opera. Fortunately for Virginia Opera fans, Mr. Jagde’s portrayal of Pinkerton in that company’s rather bargain-basement production was one of its high points, and clearly his career has been on an upward swing since then.

His Pinkerton in the current WNO production is less callow and thoughtless than it is an accurate portrayal of a young man whose hormones have interfered with his common sense, leading him to completely miss what’s really going on in the mind and spirit of his naïve young bride. Mr. Jagde’s voice now possesses considerable force and power, and he used these skills to great advantage in this production, creating a memorable Pinkerton in the process …

So, if you ever wanted to see a truly fine production of this operatic masterpiece, by all means, try to get your tickets now to avoid disappointment. You won’t regret the decision. Rating: **** (Four out of four stars).”

Terry Ponick – Communities Digital News

“As Pinkerton, Brian Jagde does an excellent job delivering the early 20th century version of a Bro with a heart, and brings pleasing power to those glorious notes that so splendidly surf an orchestra in full Puccini swell.”

Kate Wingfield – Metro Weekly

“Is it possible for contemporary audiences to watch Butterfly now and not feel the lurking shadows of sex tourism … As Pinkerton, Brian Jagde seems well aware of this in a performance that raises his already promising stature. I’ve seen Jagde, who makes his WNO debut here, in a number of roles dating back to his days as a Merola Program participant … a clear, strong voice that fills the large house and a dramatic performance that gives the role significantly more influence than usual … It’s a performance that could take the young tenor to another level … Jagde creates a convincing onstage relationship with Ermonela Jaho’s Butterfly …”

-A Beast in a Jungle

“The performers cooperated with his artistic vision and worked well as an ensemble. Ermonela Jaho’s passionate portrayal of the unfortunate girl-turned-woman garnered enthusiastic response from the audience.  Jagde’s physical and vocal size added to her projection of vulnerability. In looks and voices they were well matched and convincing: Jagde as a robust American sailor and Jaho as a dainty Japanese doll … Jagde softened in the right places of the powerful Act I duet. And his rendition of Addio, fiorito asil was sensitive and appealing. I will be looking forward to this tenor’s next endeavor.”

-The Zlatica Hoke Post

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