Les Contes d’Hoffmann / San Francisco Opera

Anthony Tommasini

The New York Times

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."

“Tenor Matthew Polenzani threw himself into the title role with a wondrous combination of vocal clarity and demonic theatrical energy.”
— Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Polenzani brings far more physical athleticism and emotional vigor to Hoffmann than he does to many of the Mozart roles in which he excels. Occasionally singing with beautifully soft, honeyed tone, but mostly with all out romantic lyricism, he remains strong and rapturous throughout the opera. All in all, Polenzani’s is a stupendous portrayal.”
— Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice

“Lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani triumphed through the long and demanding title role, hitting some powerful high notes. His acting was committed and effective — no easy task because the puzzling role moves between fantasy and reality.”
— Janos Gereben, San Francisco Examiner

“Polenzani’s lyric sound never showed strain, even at top volume. His dynamic shadings remained seamless and he seemed to have endless power in reserve for vocal climaxes at the end. More significantly, he inhabited his role with detail and depth. Polenzani seemed immersed in every moment, created a wasted, tortured character that still showed glimmers of the dashing poet his lovers must have seen in him.”
— Harvey Steiman, Seen and Heard International

“Tenor Matthew Polenzani, known as a talented Mozart interpreter, proves versatile as he nimbly shifts to French opera genre and exposes his deep engagement with Hoffmann. Mr. Polenzani’s voice proves solidly rich with unforced stamina throughout this challenging 3-1/2 hour, five-act marathon. Nearly as crucial, he can act.”
— Claudia K. Nichols, ConcertoNet.com

“The company’s new production of Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann was similarly fortunate in its tenor: Matthew Polenzani inhabited the title role of the luckless poet Hoffmann, relating his love stories with ardent, full-throttle lyricism. Singing his paeans he was a man possessed, not caring that he is making a fool of himself. He was all about passion, and you felt it.”
— Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal