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Following opening night of Mary Stuart, Wednesday 2nd September 2015, the NEW production by Melbourne Opera and supported by private sponsors such as Dr Alistair Jackson and Lady Potter as been exceptionally well received with a flurry of enthusiastic reviews !
From an exceptionally strong cast featuring Elena Xanthoudakis as Mary Stuart, and Australian veteran of the stage, soprano, Rosamund Illing, along with Henry Choo as Robert Leicester, Eddie Muliaumaseali’i as Lord Cecil, Phillip Calgagno as Lord Talbot, Caroline Vercoe as Mary’s Handmaiden Anna. Directed by Theatre and opera director Suzanne Chaundry, whose recent production of Der Freischutz was very well received by both the media and audiences alike.
Do take time to read the numerous reviews about this production below:
THE AGE/Sydney Herald SUN
Australian Book Review
Simon Parris: Man in Chair
And reviews of Elena Xanthoudakis are selected below:
Mary Stuart (Maria Stuarda) – Melbourne Opera – Reviews:
Xanthoudakis imbued Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) with fortitude, piety and grace — qualities that win her audience sympathy as she spirals into death. Even Mary’s emotional impetuousness and vilification of Elizabeth is served with forgivingness. Xanthoudakis was intoxicating with her cut-diamond clarity of tone, elegant legato, even crescendos and aching trills.
Herald Sun – Paul Selar – 4th Sept 2015
In the title role, Elena Xanthoudakis is a clear standout, bravura coloratura flurries and stratospheric ascents coupled with impressive carrying power, vivid characterisation and a superb display of fury when maligned by accusations of promiscuity and treachery.
The Australian – Eamonn Kelly – 4th Sept
Melbourne Opera has staged this fine, under-performed opera with aplomb. Elena Xanthoudakis , the Australian soprano now forging a career in Europe, is thrilling in the title role: haughty yet vulnerable, agile and secure in the formidable technical demands. Matching her, tenor Henry Choo is near-faultless as the Earl of Leicester, singing with ardour and beautiful tone. They are electric together.
The AGE and Sydney Morning Herald – Barney Zwartz – 3rd Sept
Mary Queen of Scots, sung by Elena Xanthoudakis, a stunning beauty who was in sublime voice of great range and clarity. …Keeping to her part, Elena Xanthoudakis, gave tremulous affecting bows in response to the audience’s enthusiastic reception.
Australian Book Review – Rob Holdsworth – 4th Sept
BLOGS: It is wonderful to welcome Elena Xanthoudakis back to the Melbourne Opera stage, and to enjoy the flourishing talent that has seen her international career thrive in recent years. … The faceoff between the two queens is a crackling climax to act two, and act three builds with a requisite sense of impending and inescapable doom. Xanthoudakis is in wonderful voice, performing Donizetti’s bel canto music to delightful effect. Her ornamental phrases and colouring are supple and tender. Her performance of Mary’s final prayer, “Ah!! May Thou hear the sound of our humble prayer,” is particularly exquisite.
Simon Parris: Man in Chair – Sept 3rd
Returning to the company with whom she made her professional debut, soprano Elena Xanthoudakis has established a growing reputation for her performances in Australia and in Europe. Like the representation of Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary is many-faceted. There were moments when we sincerely believed that she was an innocent who had made some unwise decisions and there were others when it was clear that she was a manipulator who failed to predict the dire consequences of her actions. Ms Xanthoudakis has a ravishing voice; easy, assured and simultaneously reserved and fragile, she coloured every phrase, varying and gently embellishing to give a comprehensive and plausible reading of the character.
Gregory Pritchard – 3rd Sept – Concertonet.com
Listed under ‘New Faces’ – Elena Xanthoudakis and the CD of Bel Canto arias is reviewed as:
This bubbly Australian soprano is following in the footsteps of her great compatriot Joan Sutherland, with a superb debut album of bel canto arias.
See the list: “The 168 best classical music recordings – From opera to symphony and concerto to chamber, we look at the recordings no classical music fan should be without” – HERE
See the Making of Jewels of the Bel Canto CD – Documentary below:]]>
A composer of popular Film scores, such as “The Godfather” and for movies by Fellini, Visconti and Zeffirelli – Nino Rota is a Italian classical composer of great interest. For some years Giuseppe Grazioli, a great scholar of the Milanese composer, with the support of La Verdi, has become the great showcase for the sadly neglected and forgotten ‘classical’ and symphonic works, (outside of his film music) of Nino Rota, born in 1911 and who died in 1979.
Thus, is it with many thanks to the support of La Verdi Orchestra di Milano and musicological study of Maestro Giuseppe Grazioli, for bringing these exceptional symphonic works to the attention of the general public. Though, not just in his home town of Milan – as the series of recordings to be made by Decca of his Symphonic works, will rightfully bring the classical works of Nino Rota to the attention of the world.
To be heard for the first time in Milan January 2015, the oratorio (sacred cantata) Mysterium, is for four solo voices, chorus, children’s choir and orchestra, written in 1962 for the “Pro Civitate Christian” of Assisi on texts by Gospel of John and the early Christian writers.
Come and discover the colourful and wonderful music of Nino Rota ( a sound-world dappled with flashes of Poulenc, Stravinski, Britten, Wagner… all whist maintaing his own identity), in this very special performance with the Symphony Orchestra of Milan directed by Maestro Giuseppe Grazioli, the symphonic choir “Giuseppe Verdi” by Erina Gambarini, the children’s choir “Voices white de laVerdi” led by Maria Teresa Tramontin, and a cast of excellent soloists formed by Elena Xanthoudakis (soprano), Giuseppina Bridelli (mezzo-soprano), Alessandro Liberatore (tenor), Gianluca Buratto (bass) – Friday 9 (20:00) and Sunday 11 (16.00), January 2015, at the Auditorium of Milan
Book tickets here at La Verdi
Articles about Mysterium
Bachtrack – “Elena Xanthoudakis was a sensation throughout”
To be recorded for future DECCA release.]]>
Recent performances in the British Summer Festival season have highlighted a new festival on the horizon. Winslow Hall Opera has put together a magnificent cast for this their 3rd year including the world class tenor and former Covent Garden Young Artist Pablo Bemsch, Romanian Baritone Vasile Chisiu and up and coming bel canto star Elena Xanthoudakis – “In the three principals, indeed, Winslow Hall had a cast which Opera North might envy” The Telegraph. Assembled was an interesting creative team consisting of Film and Television director David Penn, Conductor Oliver Gilmour, and award winning television and film costumer Dierdry Clancy. Sets by Sam Steer and lighting by the experienced Tony Shepherd. The streamlined and elegant production was well praised in the media and the public, receiving no less than 3 standing ovations for their 6 performances.
Further images available in the Gallery HERE
Read Elena’s reviews below:
Elena Xanthoudakis … is a passionate actress, almost alarmingly identifying with the role. Giving an original account of the mad scene, she begins with hysterical mirth, which intrudes from time to time as she muses on her fate, always using her large and supple voice to intense expressive effect.
The Spectator – Michael Tanner – September 2014
The lyric Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis made an enchantingly fey Lucia… The quivering sensitivity of her opening aria contained the seeds of her subsequent murderous madness, tactfully enacted and imaginatively sung; the girl’s helpless dilemma was intensely felt. She must perform this role again soon.
4 stars The Telegraph – Rupert Christiansen – 8th Sept 2014
“Australian soprano is stunning in Lucia Di Lammermoor”
The star of the show, however, was Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis in the title role of Lucia. Lucia is a woman with so many men interfering in her business that she doesn’t know what to do with herself, and eventually descends into madness. Xanthoudakis’ acting is superb, bathed in blood red light from above. Her voice is clear and loud and she sings the opera’s celebrated mad scene with panache
Oxford Times – Stuart Macbeth – Thursday 25 September 2014
Simply clad in cream, Elena Xanthoudakis sympathetically conveyed Lucia’s highly-strung naivety. At her wedding she managed to hold herself icily together until the contract was signed; the subsequent Mad Scene, at such close quarters, was genuinely harrowing. Xanthoudakis’s clear lyric sound has striking immediacy, and her fluent coloratura grew naturally out of its musical and emotional context, with even the cadential top notes transformed into (truncated) exclamations of shock.
Opera Magazine – Yehuda Shapiro – (November 2014 issue, p. 1429)
View ‘Opera’ Magazine’s review below:
‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ been featured as CD of the week on the MBS network, 3MBS (Melbourne), 4MBS (Brisbane) 5MBS (Adelaide), and has given a number of interviews on this network including 2MBS (Sydney), 5MBS (Brisbane); as well as being featured as CD of the week on National Broadcaster ABC Classic FM and still receives regular airplay on the MBS network and ABC Classic FM.
In July, Jewels of the Bel Canto was CD of the Month in Australia on ABC Classic FM and – Limelight Magazine: see Limelight Review and Interview below:
“Xanthoudakis has it all” – Limelight Magazine ….
Transferring Verdi’s masterpiece, Rigoletto from the 1600’s to the early 2000’s successfully is no mean feat, but artistic director Lindy Humes’ ingenious production for Opera Queensland ticks all the boxes. The concept is to transport Rigoletto from the Duke of Mantuas corrupt court full of sexual excess and masculine power to a modern day seat of masculine power: Berlusconi’s reign of power at Italian President, replete with underage sex scandals and bursting testosterone. It proves an exceptionally effective backdrop, strengthened by strong set designs and costumes, as well as an exceptionally accomplished cast, including Australia’s most iconic Rigoletto, Michael Lewis and an exceptional Gilda in Xanthoudakis. Elena was universally praised in the media reviews as a dazzling rising star, not only a singer who has ‘the notes’ and expression but whose acting also attracted special comment
Read the reviews below:
But it is the women that steal the show – and one woman in particular. Elena Xanthoudakis as Gilda is dazzling. The role has the potential to be a dull stock character – a naïve female victim. But Xanthoudakis has it all: the adolescent playfulness of the Duke’s daughter, the youthful terror of the adult world she’s been thrust into and, above all, the notes. It was and is an opera well worth seeing, if only to catch a rising star in Elena Xanthoudakis.
Andrew Messenger Limelight Magazine, 17th March.
Xanthoudakis sings beautifully as the impossibly innocent Gilda. Gillian Wells, Courier Mail, 17th March 2014 The tragic innocence brings out the best in Elena Xanthoudakis
Martin Buzacott The AUSTRALIAN 15th March
Vocal honours of the night went to Elena Xanthoudakis, as Gilda. Expressively sung, hers was a beautifully controlled performance which even had her adding lustre to the score’s famous soprano aria ‘Caro nome’
Peter Pinne Stage Whispers
Elena Xanthoudakis’s Gilda is a delight from start to finish, with a sweetness and purity of tone that matches her strength of character.
Flloyd Kennedy Performing Arts Hub, 17th March
Read the full Limelight Magazine review below: ( or click here)
Read the Article about the Making of ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’ in Limelight Magazine here:
Watch the Making of the Jewels of the Bel Canto Documentary HERE
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About the CD repertoire background:
“My love of bel canto repertoire has been inspired by years of listening to both my idols – the Greek Maria Callas and the Australian, Dame Joan Sutherland.
These two iconic, though very different sopranos reflect my heritage and have inspired me in different ways, to perform this rewarding repertoire.
I was indeed incredibly fortunate to be able to work with foremost bel canto expert and conductor, Maestro Richard Bonynge (husband of the late Dame Joan Sutherland) on this CD release of ‘Jewels of the Bel Canto’. These three icons of the genre have in many ways influenced my choice of arias on this recording.
Rossini has featured strongly in my career to date from Clorinda in La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival or Jemmy in Guillaume Tell for the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at the BBC Proms, to performing La Contessa di Folleville from Il Viaggio a Reims in Florence as a developing artist at the Maggio Musicale. Further encounters with the repertoire include learning Mathilde di Shabran for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Countess Adele Le Comte Ory for the Metropolitan Opera.
Rossini arias are brilliant showpieces of technical facility with many runs and arpeggios, together with great opportunities for creative employment of vocal colour and expression. This for me is a joy, as I believe in all genres of singing, that vocal colouring and capturing a suitable timbre of expression for the character’s sentiment is essential. This is another reason I love to sing these roles and hence their inclusion.
Mathilde di Shabran’s finale aria ‘Ami alfin’ is a playful yet triumphant aria that rounds up the opera nicely with the mischievous heroine’s proclamation of the winning premise – ‘love triumphs!’ In Countess Adele’s aria ‘En proie a la tristesse’ from the ‘melodramma giocoso’ Le Comte Ory, Rossini has brilliantly delineated her many colours and expressive flourishes as she vacillates from hesitation to hysterical outburst, from shy coyness to excited passion. The same brilliance is at play with the seemingly endless runs of ‘Vorrei Spiegarvi il giubilo’ from Rossini’s earliest performed opera La Cambiale il Matrimono.
More comedic heroines appear from another master, Donizetti. Norina is perhaps the archetypal bel canto comedic heroine, with her cheeky games and playful nature, which is obvious in her aria ‘Quel guardo il Cavaliere’ from Don Pasquale. We also hear great sparkle and fun in ‘Chacun le sait’ from La Fille du Regiment, which suits my own playfulness on the stage. Of the four Donizetti roles featured, we present a more earnest and sincere moment from one of my favourite and most performed comedic roles, Adina – with ‘Prendi, per me sei libero’ from the comic masterpiece L’elisir d’amore. This brings us to the more dramatic and serious roles of the bel canto repertoire.
From perhaps Donizetti’s most famous opera for the lyric coloratura, the ‘dramma tragico’ Lucia di Lammermoor, we have Lucia’s Act 1 scene with Alisa, her maid ‘Ancor non giunge….Regnava nel silenzio’. While waiting for Lucia’s rendezvous with Edgardo, Lucia sings a chilling aria about the spirit of a young lady she saw beckoning her from the well, before her thoughts return to her beloved (‘Quanto rapito in estasi’).
Bellini’s tragedia lirica, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, is written to a libretto by Romani and loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. ‘Eccomi in lieta vesta’ is a touching example of the effectiveness of well crafted bel canto melody. Another expressive example of Bellini’s craftsmanship in displaying the emotions inherent in a melodic line is his famous ‘Ah! non credea mirarti,’ the slow section of the aria of our sleepwalking Amina in La Sonnambula. The following cabaletta, ‘Ah non giunge!’ is by contrast, joyous and lively and is one of the most recognizable in the repertoire.
Although it may be surprising to see Verdi on a bel canto disc, his craft itself evolved from the bel canto traditions. In Il Corsaro, written in 1848, the same year that Donizetti died, you can still hear the school of bel canto running through ‘Egli non riede ancora….Non so le tetre immagini’ even with the second verse variations notated for the singer.
Despite the dark foreboding of the text, Medora’s premonition aria is marked ‘fil de voce,’ a technical effect requiring a flexible and very soft,’ edge of chord’ singing, as she accompanies herself on the harp.
I hope you get great pleasure from my interpretations!
SIGNUM RECORDS CD 374
An Evening with Soprano Elena Xanthoudakis
Come and get to know Elena Xanthoudakis, up and coming soprano and learn
more about her career, so far – through song!
Including popular works by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Ravel and Gershwin!
James Baillieu – Accompanist
Drinks at 7 followed by the concert at 7.30pm, then a buffet supper.
Venue: 49 Queen’s Gate Terrace, London SW7 5PN
Times: Drinks start at 7pm with concert commencing at 7.30,
THURSDAY MAY 30th
Tickets: A Contribution of £30 per head towards the cost of refreshments,
or alternatively a contribution of £15 if you do not stay for supper,
which includes wine and canapés.
Cheques to be made payable to ‘QGT Concerts’ except when stated and sent to:
49 Queen’s Gate Terrace, London SW7 5PN. Or pay at the door.
For further details, please email Vernon@vef.org.uk
Elena Xanthoudakis is a Borletti Buitoni Trust Artist and winner of many
leading singing competitions such as the Maria Callas Grand Prix,
International Mozart Competition and awarded a Solti Foundation award,
among other prizes. She has sung many times for leading houses such as the
Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Scottish Opera and the English National
Opera where she recently performed Pamina in the final revival of Nicholas
Hytner’s iconic production of the Magic Flute to Rave reviews.
More can be read about Elena on her website www.elenaxan.com
James Baillieu is also Borletti Buitoni Trust fellowship winner, graduate
and the Royal Academy of Music and Winner of the Accompanist prize in the
Wigmore Hall Competition. James is wildly being hailed as the leader of a
new generation of accompanist. An experienced coach and professor of
accompaniment at the RAM, James has played for major UK and European
venues and festivals and regular works as pianist for the George Solti
Accademia di Bel Canto in Italy.
Open the Concert Poster below:
Poster May 30th 2013 Concert pdf 3
For those not able to attend might perhaps instead be interested in supporting Elena’s BBT CD project, please read more below:
See, in 2011, Elena was awarded a prize from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. The
Borletti-Buitoni Trust (BBT) is a unique organisation that makes
financial awards to specially nominated young musicians and also
administrates their creative projects to help artists develop their
In discussion with the BBTrust, it was decided that the best way to
advance my career at this stage is to organise a professionally
produced, internationally distributed Orchestral CD recording.
We are very pleased that the award winning and excellent Northern
Sinfonia has agreed to take part and we have already pencilled a
period with them to record in July 2013. We am also thrilled to work
with Richard Bonynge OA, CBE, our conductor. He has very kindly
agreed to give his services pro-bono in order to support me and of
course Elena will not be taking any fee.
Nevertheless, an orchestral recording is an expensive undertaking. The
BBT Award has contributed £19,000 towards the project and we have
already received a number of kind donations to bring us closer to the
total cost of £28,000. We need to raise an additional £5,000 to
complete the funding and to make this project happen. We are so
We plan to record Bel Canto Arias by Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini,
Verdi and hope that you can help us reach our target… Any donations
you can give, however small, are gratefully received and will be a
real boost to help us to make this exciting and important project a
reality. It’s easy to donate online with a credit or debit card –
just go to my JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/
Elena Xanthoudakis was a pure but strong – rather than fragile – Pamina all the way through, justifying Daniel Heartz’s suggestion that the opera should be titled Pamina. Her Act Two scene with The Queen of the Night was gripping drama in every sense of the word.
Musical Criticism – 18th September – Agnes Kory
Elena Xanthoudakis’ graceful and creamy-toned soprano was well suited to Pamina and she gave a very polished performance, her duet with Papageno “Bei Männern” was one of the vocal highlights of the evening for me, as well as a heartfelt and expressive “Ach, ich fühl’s”.
Opera Britannia – 15th September – Faye Courtney
Young soprano Elena Xanthoudakis gave a poignant and truthful performance as Pamina…
BBC Classical Music Online – September – Hellen Wallace
Elena Xanthoudakis is pure loveliness as Pamina
What’s On Stage – 14th September 2012 – Simon Thomas
Elena Xanthoudakis’s Pamina sounds better and better as the night goes on…
Financial Times – September 16th – Andrew Clark
Elena Xanthoudakis was an endearing Pamina with a sweet-toned, vibrant voice, very much a modern young princess.
Seen and Heard – September 16 – Jim Pritchard
The object of his affection, Pamina, was sung warmly by Elena Xanthoudakis: her aria during the ‘Second Test’ (not cricket!), Tamino having rejected Pamina, contained beauty within sorrow – and it was very seductive, surely enough to melt the Prince’s heart.
Classical Source – September 13th – Kevin Rogers
Elena Xanthoudakis was highly original, even quirky and intense, as Pamina
The Observer – September 15th – Fiona Maddocks
Especially memorable is Elena Xanthoudakis’s Pamina, voiced with shining tone and a fine appreciation of the music’s lyrical contours.
The Guardian – 14th September – George Hall
Elena Xanthoudakis as Pamina is allowed to be subtler – her bright, shining timbre deployed with tact and sensitivity.
The Stage – September 14th – David Gutman.
Elena Xanthoudakis made for an unusually rich-toned Pamina
OperaToday.com USA – Sept 23th – Mark Berry
And in Blogs:
Most treasurable is Elena Xanthoudakis whose ultra shiny and youthfully pure soprano is absolutely ideal for Pamina. She sounded best when she let herself go a bit volume wise, easily filling the Coliseum’s dry acoustics with silvery ribbons of legato.
Elena Xanthoudakis’ voice was sweet and pure in her role as Pamina
Elena Xanthoudakis made a glowing Pamina. Slight of figure, she has a lovely lyric voice, with a strong edge to it and a feisty manner. This came out particularly in [her] the (ed) more misogynistic moments. She was playfully pert in her duet with Duncan Rock’s Papageno, but in her Act 2 aria she sang with a beautiful line and a powerful sense of pain. All in all, a radiant performance.
September 14th – Robert Hugill
This revival had the good fortune to have Elena Xanthoudakis in great form, singing her heart out and acting with total conviction. The second act was a tour de force and it was very difficult to take our eyes off her.
Check out the photos of the production here
Elena Xanthoudakis is now represented by Deborah Sanders at London based ‘Rayfield Allied’ worldwide, including Australia and New Zealand except the USA/North America. Please see Elena’s the new page on Rayfield Allied – Click here
Deborah Sanders joins Rayfield Allied following a number of years as an international artist manager at IMG.
Managing Director Ben Rayfield commented: “We are delighted that Deborah will be joining our management team as Director of Vocal. I have always admired her entrepreneurialism, building up a roster of the most exciting clients from scratch as she did at IMGA, and her ability to spot, develop and nurture talent. Deborah’s passion and drive and her undisputedinternational track record in a variety of arts management roles will be a huge asset to Rayfield Allied, and we all look forward to this next exciting chapter in the development of the agency.”
Earlier in her career, Deborah was recruited by Sir Richard Attenborough to manage London’s Duke of York’s Theatre under Capital Radio’s (former) ownership; she produced Live from London, a series of weekly rock concerts transmitted live across Europe on Sky; she was founding company manager at Santa Fe Stages, an international theatre festival in New Mexico; she provided her casting and promotional expertise to the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, Italy; and was general director’s liaison at San Francisco Opera under the leadership of Lotfi Mansouri.
Deborah Sanders commented: “Ben and I share a common ambition, and I’m delighted to have this unique opportunity to bring my experience to the table and develop the eminent roster of international artists at Rayfield Allied. In these challenging times, I believe it’s important to keep the welfare of the artists foremost in our minds and I’m convinced that together, our roster of exceptional artists will, with careful strategy and planning, enjoy long and successful careers.”
Please read about Elena’s exceptional Artist Manager Deborah Sanders – Director of Vocal – here
or see here: http://www.rayfieldallied.com/news/2012/deborah-sanders-joins-rayfield-allied-as-director-of-vocal/
Or read about it online at Musical America:
Please see Elena’s the new page on Rayfield Allied – Click here