That left two Lyric stalwarts, tenor Matthew Polenzani and bass-baritone Eric Owens, to demonstrate to their younger colleagues what stellar vocalism and surpassing artistry are all about. Each singer was heard in selections from a work in which he will be starring in the season ahead – Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” in Polenzani’s case; Wagner’s “Die Walkure,” in Owens’."
In this performance, featuring two Met stars, the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and the tenor Matthew Polenzani, the storytelling aspects of the songs were paramount and the mood less heavy; profundities came through without undue emotiveness."
“Polenzani is one of the Met’s top tenors, and his second-act aria “Fuor del mar” is a show-stopper. He has the breath control of a deep-sea diver and his long runs, from the bottom to the top of the register, are remarkable. His phrasing is also consistently and notably excellent.”
But the concert began gathering real momentum when operatic tenor Matthew Polenzani dared to take on "Be My Love," a song universally identified with the unrivaled Mario Lanza. The tenderness of Polenzani's opening notes instantly marked this as an interpretation apart from Lanza's, as did the ardor of Polenzani's phrasing and inexorable swell of his crescendos ...
Is there a better Mozart tenor before the public than Matthew Polenzani? Unlikely. The Evanston native brought a fresh element to the show, singing with rich, vibrant tone as well as a dramatic urgency that elevated the entire production.
Tenor Matthew Polenzani was an exquisite Fernand, skillfully mixing Italianate tone with French style, showing a robust upper register in “Ange si pur” but tempering phrases above the staff with effective use of voix mixte, not to cover up any vocal deficiencies but to fit voice to line.
The proverbial hometown boy who made good, Matthew Polenzani apprenticed for two seasons at the Ryan Opera Center and has been a familiar and welcome presence on the Lyric roster ever since. So it came as a surprise to discover that Monday marked the Illinois-born tenor's Ravinia recital debut — and a most auspicious debut it was."
In the title role of Roberto Devereux, Matthew Polenzani once again showed why he is one of the leading tenors in the world. His voice continues to be a wonder in the lyric repertoire and this time it took on some dramatic colors that one had never heard."
He was as fine as ever on Saturday, particularly in his aria, which he maintained, along with Noseda, as a musical trance, emphasized by clear, pale falsetto high notes in the best old-school French tradition."
Many tenors can hit the notes in the high-lying aria "Je Crois entendre encore" but the music only makes its distinctively pensive impression if the singer can live comfortably up there for entire phrases while inflecting them with the intimacy of art song. And Polenzani is the guy to do that.
Polenzani was sensational, going beyond the plaster saint to create a rounded and conflicted human emperor—angry at the betrayal of those he trusted and conscious of his duty yet also wanting to forgive his enemies."
An ironclad technique allows him to faithfully respect all the dynamics indicated by Donizetti. The recitative “Povero Ernesto” is an imaginative play between forte and piano; in the first phrase of the aria, he adheres to every marking, from the staccatos on the first two syllables of ‘Cercherò lontana terra’, to the marcato on ‘Lontana’, all in the same breath ...
Fresh from Così fan tutte at The Metropolitan Opera, Polenzani declaimed all that striking poetry with fine diction, clear tone and flawless vocal prowess, floating the scary ‘This ae nighte’ at the beginning and end of the Dirge and tossing off the complex runs in the Hymn with clarity and ease.”
The formidable role of Hoffmann is ideal for Mr. Polenzani, who seems in his prime these days. It requires lyric tenor colorings and bloom. Yet there are heroic elements to the part for which a tenor must summon vocal heft and stamina. Mr. Polenzani had it all: refinement, sweep, passion and power."
Matthew Polenzani, who is becoming the Met’s go-to tenor in bel canto repertory (he was wonderful as Nemorino in the company’s new production of Donizetti’s ‘Elisir d’Amore,’ which opened the season) brings melting sound and appealing vulnerability to the role of the hapless Robert Dudley (Roberto), the Earl of Leicester.”
Tenor Matthew Polenzani gave a benchmark performance as her suitor Nemorino, acting with great charm, spinning out lines of silky, elegant tone and stopping the show with a masterful rendition of the opera’s well-known tune ‘Una furtiva lagrima.’”
Wilmette native Matthew Polenzani is singing his first ever Hoffmann, and he has become a splendid purveyor of French style and idiom with technical skills that carry him through major numbers in the three acts, prologue and epilogue.”
Matthew Polenzani has the perfect tone for the role of Ferrando. He sings with a class and comfort that allows [his voice to go] to the extremes, while keeping the courage needed to dominate the formidable range [in the] tense final cavatina ‘Tradito, schernito.’”
[Matthew Polenzani] remains ... an extraordinarily communicative Lieder singer, possessed of an agile and flexible voice of tremendous versatility. In the most intimiate of these settings, as well as in the quasi-operatic ones, Polenzani and Drake create performances that are at once thoughtful, richly atmospheric and never less than compelling.”