"Tancredi became the first of Rossini’s opere serie ever staged by COC (seen April 1 and 13). The convoluted libretto makes this the kind of opera best treated as a star vehicle. That star was Polish contralto Ewa Podles, and she left no doubt why Tancredi has become her signature role. Podles has one of the most remarkable voices of anyone singing today. It has a deeply rich, smooth tone like molten chocolate, which extends through more than three octaves with no loss of beauty or power. It has a resonance that seems impossibly large for the vessel producing it. And yet, it is amazingly agile, performing the enormously difficult vocal gymnastics that Rossini demands with the utmost precision and ease. To this, Podles adds feats of ornamentation that are truly spectacular and musicianship that allows her to blend perfectly in ensembles and duets."

June 2005

by Christopher HOILE