Pia de’ Tolomei – ETO – GREAT success – Reviews are coming in!

Reviews for Pia de’ Tolomei – ETO Opening night – March 10th – 2016

Opening Night of the UK staged premiere of Pia de’ Tolomei by Donizetti, designed by Lauren Elstein and directed by James Conway – was a huge success! Have a look through some of the reviews and quotes below:


“Elena Xanthoudakis takes on a sequence of substantial vocal challenges in the title role, in a performance that is invariably bold and accomplished.”

The Guardian – March 11th – George Hall – Pia de’ Tolomei review – ‘accomplished performances in taut drama’

“This is definitely an opera which rises and falls with its star, and Elena Xanthoudakis is truly fabulous as Pia, doing the role glorious justice with her stellar projection, wonderful softness of tone and huge soprano range. Her dramatic instincts are keen, delivering a performance as heartbreaking as it is stunning.”

5 Stars – 14 March 2016 Charlotte Valori, Something old, something new: Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei, English Touring Opera

Pia was sung by Elena Xanthoudakis, no stranger to the London stage, having previously performed at ROH in La sonnambula. Her opening aria “O tu che desti il fulmine” displayed a beautifully spun vocal line and the following cabaletta was secure with plenty of heft available for the asking. Her duet with Carby was gorgeous, their lilting music sung with fine legato phrasing which brought some warmth to the characters and provided an all too brief glimpse of light to the story. She adopted a striking posture in her duet with Ghino, the flowing line apparently convincing enough to turn Ghino from the Dark Side, despite its prissy Victorian moralistic tone. As she awoke from her tortured sleep in her cell in the Act 2 finale, Xanthoudakis gave an intense portrayal, which stood out from the other fine performances of the evening, growing increasingly febrile as she tried to reconcile her husband with her brother whilst she succumbed to poison.”

4 stars- Llŷr Carvana – March 13, 2016 Opera Britannia

“The Greek-Australian soprano Elena Xanthoudakis made a strong and intensely moving Pia. Her repertoire is firmly in bel canto, with a number of Donizetti heroines and Verdi’s La Traviata to her credit. She has a voice with an interesting strength to it, bringing out the spinto hints in Donizetti’s writing, but with a lovely flexibility too. It is not so much a luxurious voice as a finely honed one with a superb feel for Donizetti’s line. Whatever she sang, she made highly personal and very expressive and her way with Donizetti’s fioriture was very stylish. It has to be admitted that she was not entirely relaxed at the very top of her range, but no doubt will be more so after the first night. The role encompasses both fireworks and pathos, and culminates in the powerful death scene. Here Xanthoudakis held our attention and really made us suspend disbelief, thus creating a superb climax to the opera.”

Robert Hugill – Saturday, 12 March 2016 – Planet Hugill

“Pia is played – or, perhaps, inhabited – by Elena Xanthoudakis (pictured), whose relatively minor role in the first half leads to an extraordinarily passionate second half performance that is draining to watch, never mind to play. Her duet in the aria ‘Per sempre dai viventi’ (with Luciano Botelho’s sensitively played Ghino) is both a glorious conspiring of music and voice to create something beautiful, but also a sophisticated and heartfelt plea for rational thought to triumph over inflamed anger. Pia is presented as a woman possessed of an emotional intelligence far beyond those with whom she must reason – making her tragedy all the greater.”

March 12 – by Gary Naylor

“Marvellous stuff, the very soul of Italian opera in the 1830s, sung here in glorious bel canto style by the beautiful Elena Xanthoudakis as Pia. She along with the bold, clear baritone and expressive acting of Grant Doyle as her husband Nello, and the strongly lyrical tenor of Luciano Botelho as Ghino, headed a cast of exceptional vocal talent that brought the drama very much to life under the excellent baton of John Andrews.”

Mark Ronan – 11th March

Pia is a passive figure, but Elena Xanthoudakis, dressed as a Pre-Raphaelite demoiselle, invigorated her hopelessness with her light unpressured soprano bouncing off an airy technique.

Classical Source – Peter Reed – March 10th

  • Gallery Photos will be posted soon!

NEW REVIEWS ( updated April 25th and June 10th):

….against him, vulnerable and defiant, proud and tender, was Elena Xanthoudakis as Pia herself: an utterly convincing performance that managed to be both bring-the-house down brilliant and profoundly touching. Xanthoudakis’s voice danced over Donizetti’s fiendish coloratura with liquid grace; blazing thrillingly at the top and, in quieter passages, capable of anything from a wounded snarl to melting sweetness. Who says you need to be at a major opera house to hear singing of this quality?

The Arts Desk – 16th April – Richard Bratby

“The star of the evening also hails from Australia. Elena Xanthoudakis’ Pia was absolutely stunning. Rarely have I heard bel canto sung to such perfection, notably in her cavatina ‘O tu che desti il fulmine’ in which she faces up to the pain and conflict she has to bear with nobility and self-control. Even Boccaccio’s Patient Griselda cannot hold a candle to her. Elena has a flawless, seemingly effortless bel canto technique coupled with an excellent stage presence – and I can’t wait to hear her again.”

Seen and Heard International – Roger Jones – 14/416

Elena Xanthoudakis sang Pia with a strong, burnished tone; she had plenty in reserve and hit the high notes with aplomb.

East Anglican Times – Gareth Jones 11/4/16


Elena Xanthoudakis is made for this sort of role: she has a very beautiful voice and knows how to use it, full of feints and curlicues, vulnerabilities and subtleties. … Donizetti on top form – and Pia’s death genuinely tragic. Great stuff. 5 stars

Opera Now – April Edition







In James Conway’s taut, essentially “mediaeval” production, the work’s first UK staging, Elena Xanthoudakis gave a nicely poised Pia in a fluent, if light, soprano. Her duet with her brother Rodrigo – mezzo Catherine Carby in a trouser role – and her prolonged demise were highlights.
The Press -York – Martin Dryer – 6 June 2016

Remaining Performances:

Snape Maltings Concert Hall
7th Apr 2016 – 7:30 pm

Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
12th Apr 2016 – 7:30 pm

Buxton Opera House
24th Apr 2016 – 3:00 pm

Cambridge Arts Theatre
26th Apr 2016 – 7:30 pm

Exeter Northcott Theatre
24th May 2016 – 7:30 pm

York Theatre Royal
3rd Jun 2016 – 7:30 pm

Photo by Jane Hobson