La Clemenza di Tito / The Metropolitan Opera
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
The New York Times
The tenor Matthew Polenzani sang the title role of the ruler unhappy inside his power bubble with a plush, slightly woolly tone and plain-spoken phrasing.
“As Tito, Matthew Polenzani makes a brilliant impression, using his gorgeous lyric tenor to great vocal and dramatic effect.”
“In the title role of the merciful Tito, tenor Matthew Polenzani wedded ravishing Italianate tone to exemplary bel canto technique. Declamation, legato and even the fiendish scales in “Se all’impero” all sounded scrupulous yet spontaneous.”
“The title role, Tito, was taken by Matthew Polenzani, the American tenor, who is a veteran Mozartean. He was every inch a king, or emperor. And his voice has a kindness, which can suggest the “clemency” of Tito.
What else is there to say? I could gush on, but you get the picture. In the opera’s final pages, I thought of a famous phrase from poetry: “fearful symmetry.” This was symmetry, but not fearful. Rather, it was magnificent and Mozartean. Everything was in balance, composed—right.
Play it again.”
“While the cast for the season’s revival of Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO looked good on paper, it didn’t even hint at how good the singing was going to be at the Met this week. From top–tenor Matthew Polenzani, elegant and vibrant in the title role (“Se all’impero”)…”
“Matthew Polenzani held his own as his lyrical voice was adding more gravitas appropriate to the title role. His Tito was portrayed as moral rock amid the chaos of his surroundings. He bore the pain of separation from his true love Berenice at the beginning, and gave up his two choices for empress to his friends with stoicism and maturity appropriate to a benevolent ruler.”
“Tito is so good as to be one-dimensional, and in Mozart’s version he doesn’t have the best music—that goes to all the women, including the trouser roles—and there’s little interesting in him as he struggles between being a beloved, noble ruler and a man of near saintly forbearance and empathy.
That made Polenzani’s compelling performance that much more impressive. The great beauty of his voice and his expressive phrasing added an unusual amount of weight to the role—he made the music sound so wonderful that his rhetoric alone created depth and meaning. From potential bathos Polenzani mined some real gems, especially in the Act II duet with Sesto that leads to the aria “Se all’impero.””
“Tenor Matthew Polenzani’s Tito was anguished but firm, sung with full, flexible sound. He clearly felt the weight of his public duties keenly and yearned for closer relationships.”