Reviews Archive (2015 & Earlier)

2015

Aida

"The OSW orchestra, primarily members of the New Mexico Philharmonic, render the score superbly, directed by Anthony Barrese."

 

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 26 2015

The girl in the train

"This wonderfully sung show, especially from Alison Kelly, Caroline Wright, and Nick Pulikowski, was enhanced with the breathtaking score beautifully performed by Anthony Barrese’s 20 piece orchestra."

TOM WILLIAMS, CHICAGO CRITIC
SEPTEMBER 7 2015

Madame Pompadour

"Music director Anthony Barrese has a decided feel for the music and secures crisp, buoyant playing from his 21-piece orchestra, which is tucked away at the side rear of the stage"

JOHN VON RHEIN, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
JULY 19 2015

"CFO music director Anthony Barrese leads a 21-piece orchestra, one increment bigger than the 20-member ensemble he led in last year’s “Ball at the Savoy” and the results are excellent… The brass was notably perky and gleaming and the harp was particularly alluring. Last year Barrese put down his baton briefly to take up the accordion and this year he sported a guitar for the final verse of a humorous number."

M.L. RANTALA, HYDE PARK HERALD
JULY 22 2015

Les pêcheurs de perles

"Anthony Barrese, a newcomer to the FGO pit, led the orchestra. Barrese, artistic director of Opera Southwest, held back the musicians more than the company’s principal conductor, Ramón Tebar, never allowing them to overpower the singers."

DAVID FLESHER, THE MIAMI HERALD
MARCH 2 2015

"From the lovely atmospheric prelude prefiguring Leïla’s first entrance to Zurga’s assassination, maestro Anthony Barrese conducted the nimble FGO Orchestra with sensitivity and nuance."

STEVE GLADSTONE, MIAMIARTZINE
MARCH 5 2015

"The entire performance had a freshness to it, an eagerness that can only come from youth. Maestro Anthony Barrese is only 39 years old, but his musical maturity sounds a few decades older. Also making his FGO debut Saturday (Feb. 28), he not only kept all the moving parts of the opera well-hinged, but he managed to convey its intimacy."

FERNANDO LANDEROS, ARTSBURSTMIAMI.COM
MARCH 9 2015

"In his company debut, Anthony Barrese, artistic director and principal conductor of Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, gave an energetic reading of the score, emphasizing the Italian influences on Bizet’s opera"

JEAN-FRANÇOIS LEJEUNE, OPERA NEWS
JULY 2015

La Wally

"the Dallas Opera orchestra, with Anthony Barrese at the helm, produced highly atmospheric sounds."

OLIN CHISM, THE FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM
JANUARY 31 2015

2013

Lucia di Lammermoor

Opera North

"The production, conducted by Anthony Barrese, was musically excellent throughout…it was the music that made the production so worthwhile. Barrese and the excellent Opera North orchestra performed passionately, yet sensitively, and with nuance."

 

JIM LOWE, THE BARRE MONTPELIER TIMES ARGUS
AUGUST 9 2013

"From the overture’s first ominous muffled drums and cannon shot of brass, the score gallops along with ferocious intensity, refined here to an exquisite tension by conductor Anthony Barrese… Barrese balances the fragile beauty of Donizetti’s writing for Lucia’s voice with the brooding depth of the male vocals. Both the orchestra and the chorus were in vigorous, unified voice, and deserve special praise."

 

NICOLA SMITH, VALLEY NEWS
AUGUST 8 2013

The Kiss

Opera Theatre St. Louis

"Anthony Barrese conducted a lively reading of the score, with its tuneful Czech-inflected melodies and stirring orchestral accompaniment."

 

VIVIEN SCHWEITZER, NEW YORK TIMES
JUNE 23 2013

"Anthony Barrese conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra with a steady hand."

 

STEVE ALLEN, WWW.STAGEDOORSTLOUIS.COM
JUNE 28 2013

"Conductor Anthony Barrese brings Smetana’s lively, tune-filled score to brilliant life."


CHUCK LAVAZZI, WWW.KDHX.ORG
JUNE 27 2013

"Conductor Anthony Barrese, debuting with OTSL, told Examiner.com he learned the score specifically for this production. Betraying no lack of familiarity, he led a crisp reading of the score, which overflows with Slavonic dance tunes and Smetana’s unmistakable orchestral patina."

 

RICHARD CARTER, WWW.EXAMINER.COM
JUNE 24 2013

"Anthony Barrese drew particularly fine playing from his St. Louis Symphony musicians who reveled in the richness and lyrical detail of Smetana’s writing. At times there were even potent suggestions of Wagner, such as in the superlative sustained “sun” passages. Maestro Barrese’s assured reading winningly rendered all of the sprightly folk elements, and he shaped the performance with stylistic acumen.."

 

JAMES SOHRE, OPERA TODAY
JUNE 20 2013

"Conductor Anthony Barrese leads members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in a spirited reading of Smetana’s tuneful traipse through the 19th century Czech countryside."

 

MARK BRETZ, LADUE NEWS
JUNE 18 2013

"In his [OTSL] conducting debut, Anthony Barrese brought out all the Slavic beauty of Smetana’s score and supported his singers admirably."

 

SARAH BRYAN MILLER, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
JUNE 16 2013

Madama Butterfly

Opera Southwest

"…the Opera Southwest orchestra, led by Artistic Director Anthony Barrese, provides strong support with an essential spark and sympathetic rendering of the score, never overpowering any of the voices despite often thick instrumentation."

 

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
MARCH 19 2013

Family Concert

Dallas Opera

"Barrese was excellent and right with the singers in all of the selections. He was especially impressive in accompanying the complicated recitative in the Count’s aria, “Hai gia vinta la causa.” He gave an intensely felt version of the third act interlude from Carmen that hushed even the noisiest of the children."

 

GREGORY SULLIVAN ISAACS, THEATER JONES
FEBRUARY 18 2013

2011

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Opera Southwest

"The OSW orchestra, now augmented by former members of the New Mexico Symphony, is led with the sure hand of music director Anthony Barrese, a Rossini specialist."

 

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 14 2011

Don Giovanni

Sarasota Opera

"…the excellent orchestra led by Anthony Barrese."

 

GAYLE WILLAIMS, SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE
FEBRUARY 13 2011

"Conductor Anthony Barrese kept the music going at a clip that was just a little faster than most other productions and recordings, but never so fast that the singers couldn’t breathe and phrase beautifully.
The orchestra’s ability to play at that pace showed off its remarkable facility. And, in all, it was three of the shortest, most enjoyable hours we’ve spent in the theater in a long time."

 

JUNE LEBELL, LONGBOAT OBSERVER
FEBRUARY 16 2011

2009

La Cenerentola

"The orchestra deftly led by music director Anthony Barrese gives solid support, so crucially necessary in this music where the voices are frequently and perilously exposed."

 

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 6, 2009

Don Giovanni (BLO)

"Anthony Barrese did fine work in the pit."

 

JEREMY EICHLER, BOSTON GLOBE
APRIL 25, 2009

"On a stage crammed with talent, [Susanna Phillips] nevertheless stole the show, although she still blended beautifully into those exquisite ensembles, which were directed with superb control by conductor Anthony Barrese."

 

THOMAS GARVEY, THE HUB REVIEW
APRIL 26, 2009

"The outstanding orchestra, led by Anthony Barrese, provided solid musical support throughout the opera. The orchestra exhibited their excellence in the Finale of Act I, “Presto presto pria ch’ei venga,” with their crisp articulation, mastery of different textures and ability to change dynamics on a whim, supporting the energy and frenzy on stage."

 

ELIZABETH PERTEN, THE BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER
APRIL 27, 2009

"The orchestra under the baton of Anthony Barrese was precise and nuanced, the overture a pleasure to hear."

HANNA KIRSCH , THE JUSTICE ONLINE
MAY 19, 200
9

2007

Le nozze di Figaro

Opera Southwest

"Director David Bartholomew and conductor Anthony Barrese keep the music and action driving forward without a moment’s lag, with fresh comic touches throughout."

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 15, 2007

Intermezz

"The best Intermezzo concert I heard was with Anthony Barrese conducting Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. In the ripe acoustics of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church it was so revelatory and fresh that I marvelled about the composer (not for the first time), “Where did all the music come from!"

GIL FRENCH, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER, 2007

"Spoleto USA’s second Intermezzo on Wednesday afternoon got off to a rousing start with the bouncy overture to Giacomo Rossini’s “L’italiana in Algeri.” Conductor Anthony Barrese generated inspired playing by members of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, who sparkled."

WILLIAM FURTWANGLER, THE POST AND COURIER
MAY 31, 2007

"Intermezzo II featured conductor Anthony Barrese and members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. Rossini’s overture to “L’italiana in Algeri” (“The Italian Girl in Algiers”) was distinguished by sharp, precise ensemble work, plus some of the sweetest piccolo playing I’ve ever heard, courtesy of orchestra member Madelene Campos….

The second piece, Giovanni Bottesini’s “Grand Duo Concertante,”… was performed here in an adaptation by Camillo Sivori, who rewrote one of the solo bass parts for violin. Bassist Aaron John Baird and veteran Festival Orchestra violinist Melissa Ann Ussery gave a blistering account of this showpiece… Baird and Ussery were fully involved with each other as performers, and Barrese proved to be an exceptionally good accompanist…

In the final work, Tchaikovsky’s well-loved “Serenade for Strings,” the 17 players produced a lush, well-integrated string texture. Barrese came off as eminently capable, and he obviously knows the piece thoroughly,… he built momentum steadily and with excitement in the long crescendo of the fourth movement, leading to a recap of the work’s triumphant opening theme, and a rousing end to the concert."

JOSHUA ROSENBLUM, THE POST AND COURIER
JUNE 1 , 2007

"It’s hard to go wrong scheduling a Rossini overture for any concert. And the bubbly ones to his comic operas – like L’Italiana in Algieri, heard here – are especially welcome. In the capable hands of the Spoleto Festival Orchestra and conductor Anthony Barrese, this one sparkled and charmed."

LINDSAY KOOB, EARGASMS – CHARLESTON CITY PAPER
MAY 30, 2007

Music in Time

"Anthony Barrese conducted a small band from the Spoleto Festival Orchestra in his creation, “The Apostolic Rag.” This musical melange worked and actually deserves a re-hearing."

WILLIAM FURTWANGLER, THE POST AND COURIER
JUNE 6, 2007

"Conductor Anthony Barrese conducting his own piece, “Apostolic Rag,” which he described as a 12-tone piece for 12 musicians lasting 144 bars. And the title, of course, references the twelve Apostles. (I hate to spoil the numeric consistency, but it reminded me of Stravinsky’s Ragtime for Eleven Instruments.) The piece is Barrese’s winning mix of Schoenberg-style atonality with Joplin-esque ragtime forms, plus some enjoyable metric trickery, and it’s loads of fun."

JOSHUA ROSENBLUM, THE POST AND COURIER
JUNE 7, 2007

"The second half of this program presented three works in a more jazzy vein. Anthony Barrese conducted members of the SFO in his own composition, The Apostolic Rag. This work deftly (if that’s a good word to use with 12 tone music…) answers a rather weird question; what would a rag sound like written in 12 tone style? Keeping the conventions of both styles neatly in balance, it produced a sort of hallucinatory time warp."

ROBERT BONDURANT, EARGASMS – CHARLESTON CITY PAPER
JUNE 5, 2007

Rigoletto

"Under the expert direction of Anthony Barrese, the orchestra navigated Verdi’s rich score. It gave patrons light-hearted, bouncy strings in introducing the fickle, hedonistic Duke. It gave them tender flutes before Gilda dashed on the scene."

MILA KOUMPILOVA, THE FORUM
APRIL 1, 2007

2014

Amleto

Baltimore Concert Opera

"You have to admire the valuable service Barrese has done just by shedding fresh light on the work and its creator…What counts is that, much of the time, Faccio’s music offers solidly crafted, often stirring melodic lines that communicate text vividly and are fueled by a strong sense of rhythmic motion. The mad scene and subsequent funeral march for Ofelia (the Italianized Ophelia) are among the most imaginatively crafted passages.

 

Some of the arias, especially the impassioned “To be or not to be” soliloquy, would surely find favor with singers today. And the best of the ensemble scenes, such as the Act 2 finale when Amleto’s scheme to unnerve his dastardly uncle starts to work, pack considerable punch…Barrese’s intense conducting, which combined momentum and expressive breadth, made it easy to appreciate the score’s finer points"

 

TIM SMITH, THE BALTIMORE SUN
OCTOBER 3 2014

"For Barrese and some of the singers, the evening was a kind of dress rehearsal: they are giving a staged production at Opera Southwest in Albuquerque at the end of this month. For me, at least, it was tantalizing. I would be happy to hear “Amleto” again.

 

At the very least, Faccio represents a missing link between Verdi and the verismo composers of the century’s end. “Amleto” is filled with melody, but freed from the ironclad traditions of arias and cabalettas; the “Essere o non essere” scene (you knew there had to be a “to be or not to be” moment) is as much dramatic monologue as aria per se… Ofelia’s mad scene, in its wistful tuneful simplicity, presages the final scene of Verdi’s Desdemona far more than it derives from the histrionics of Donizetti’s Lucia…I hope that Maestro Barrese’s efforts will be rewarded with future performances"

 

ANNE MIDGETTE, THE WASHINGTON POST
OCTOBER 3 2014

"…besides being a fascinating first glimpse at Boito grappling with Shakespeare, Amleto is a taut, four-act score full of musical excitement growing from the familiar story…It is difficult to rate Amleto’s worth on one hearing, but it passes my personal test: I’d gladly go hear the score again next week, if that were possible. The work is well-paced and moves through this elaborate story with a minimum of confusion, rising to proper musical climaxes. The melodies do not sound like Verdi or Boito or anyone else, but their style will appeal to those who love middle Verdi. There is work here for singing actors of ability to show it off, and Baltimore Concert Opera was fortunate to have so impressive a cast, most of whom will repeat their roles with Southwest Opera"

 

JOHN YOHALEM, PARTERRE.COM
OCTOBER 7 2014

"Maestro Barrese conjured up a beautiful myriad of sounds and if you really listened, you could certainly hear an orchestra. I can only imagine what care he must have lavished on his excellent cast of singers and the chorus. There were truly thrilling sounds made by all…All in all, it was a fantastic night for opera fans and newcomers to the art. We witnessed an American premiere together. There is truly nothing like being in an atmosphere of such great expectation and absolute joy at the marvel of experiencing something of this magnitude."

 

WADE DAVIS, OPERAGASM.COM
OCTOBER 7 2014

Amleto

Opera Southwest

"There is one more man who figures prominently in the reappearance of the lost opera, musician Anthony Barrese… who devoted 12 years of his professional life to piecing together and realizing, in a note-by-note reconstruction, Faccio’s faded handwritten manuscript of Amleto… This is a remarkable achievement that makes him a valued contributor to the history of 19th Century Italian romantic opera. I expect we will be hearing more of him.
He conducted a well-rehearsed, musically cogent performance… Barrese’s crisp, energetic New Mexico orchestra played unusually well."

 

JAMES A VAN SANT, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
JANUARY, 2015

"The good news, no, the great news, is that Amleto is a major work, a beautiful and eminently stage-worthy work, and also a work that Opera Southwest staged and performed with great élan and competence. Boito’s libretto for Amleto strikes me as truly remarkable, not least for his ability to cut a long and complex drama to manageable lengths for opera…It is abundantly clear that Boito’s libretto is a minor masterpiece in translating Shakespeare for the operatic stage, and an example of Scapigliatura because it partially moves away from traditional operatic language and forms…Faccio’s music is “new” too, in the sense that it is constantly trying, usually successfully, to paint scenes and moods in the orchestra… Mood painting in the orchestra is everywhere, such as the spooky music when the Ghost speaks to Hamlet, or the ethereal music for Ophelia’s mad scene…There are also daring harmonies for the time…The score builds too; Acts III and IV are even better than the first two acts. Musically, there is one striking and dramatic scene after another…
When we came to Albuquerque, I suspected and hoped that we might find a worthy resurrection in Faccio’s score, but I have to confess that I did not expect much more than a competent performance from a small, local company. How wrong I was… Without Barrese, there would have been no Amleto for us to see, and he had whipped his forces into a superb ensemble…At the end, the sold out audience rose as one, and for once the standing ovation was well deserved. When Amleto failed at La Scala in 1871, Faccio or perhaps one of his students, hung a sign on a door at the Milan Conservatory: “Closed for the death of Amleto.” If Faccio’s ghost is watching from somewhere, I think he would be pleased. And for me at least, the standing ovation, which went on and on, was certainly for the company and Maestro Barrese, but it was also for him."

CHARLES JERNIGAN, OPERALOUNGE.DE
OCTOBER 26, 2014

"For Artistic Director Anthony Barrese this was a labor of passion, perhaps obsession. But labor certainly and nonetheless a formidable task. The fruits of his painstaking work at long last came to fruition on Sunday at the National Hispanic Cultural Center when Opera Southwest gave the stunning premiere of the long lost and forgotten “Amleto” (Hamlet) by Franco Faccio…Make no mistake—this is Grand Opera, rather than the brooding of the melancholy Dane…Barrese, who knows more about this work than anyone alive, conducts what must be considered a definitive version….For all intents this is a premiere of a new work, the first for Opera Southwest during my tenure, and represents a step up to another level of achievement beyond the care and enthusiasm that goes into all its productions. Bravo!"

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 27, 2014

"…operatic exhumations of this importance are virtually unheard of by American regional companies. Credit goes to the conductor Anthony Barrese, who prepared an edition from Faccio’s autograph manuscript and led a vibrant performance."

GEORGE LOOMIS, FINANCIAL TIMES
OCTOBER 28, 2014

"This is not a simple matter of an interesting discovery. Composed on a libretto by his friend Arrigo Boito, based on the Shakespeare play, Faccio’s Amleto is an important work, worthy of being placed next to Boito’s Mefistofele and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda in the chapter of the history of Italian opera between Verdi and Verismo. A creator like the other scapigliati of the “music of the future” and accused therefore of “Wagnerism,” Faccio instead wrote a very Italian opera, in which one finds a structure of very flexible numbers, an orchestration never banal, and a language that owes more to Verdi than it claims. It does not lack in pages of notable melodic inspiration, in addition to a pregnant dramatic force. Worthy of inclusion in an anthology is the libretto of Boito – his dress rehearsal for the two Shakespearean efforts that he drafted for Verdi – an author whose lexical tastes can be criticized but not his theatrical vocation. Very well conducted by Barrese, Amleto was performed with a good cast and a modest mise-en-scene."

ENRICO GIRARDI, CORRIERE DELLA SERA
OCTOBER 30, 2014

"This venture was a testament to the devotion of Anthony Barrese, the company’s artistic director, who learned of the piece’s existence in 2002 and spent the next dozen years working from manuscripts in Italian archives to prepare a modern performance edition based on the 1871 version. Such a project would not seem unusual behind the ivy-covered walls of academe, where the resultant reconstruction would fester among other unnoticed dissertations. Pursuing it in the real world, with the goal of making the piece live and breathe in front of a paying audience, seems quixotic in comparison, but it is precisely the sort of venture to which musicology should aspire… The real hero of this Amleto was Barrese,… who pulled off a creditable and enlightening production."

JAMES KELLER, SANTE FE NEW MEXICAN
OCTOBER 31, 2014

Ball at the Savoy

Chicago Folks Operetta

"They all appear to be having a ball, as does the spirited orchestra under music director Anthony Barrese."

JOHN VON RHEIN, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
JULY 20 2014

2012

Otello

Opera Southwest

"Rossini scholar Anthony Barrese leads an excellent group of musicians with buoyant illumination."

 

D.S. CRAFTS, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
OCTOBER 29 2012

L’elisir d’amore

Opera North

"Under the direction of Anthony Barrese, the Opera North orchestra played the sparkling score with a sure lightness of touch."

 

NICOLA SMITH, VALLEY NEWS
AUGUST 9 2012

"Barrese led the fine Opera North [orchestra] in a nuanced performance that accentuated the beauty and breathed with the story."

 

JIM LOWE, THE BARRE MONTPELIER TIMES ARGUS
AUGUST 10 2012

The Circus Princess

Chicago Folks Operetta

"Conductor Anthony Barrese makes Kalman’s operetta both playful and romantic."

 

KATY WALSH, CHICAGONOW.COM – THE FOURTH WALSH
JUNE 17 2012

"Anthony Barrese’s 19-piece orchestra is robust and lovely."

 

LAUREN WHALEN, CHICAGO THEATER BEAT
JUNE 14 2012

"…fine, lively playing of the 20-piece orchestra under Anthony Barrese."

 

JOHN VON RHEIN, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
JUNE 11 2012

"…first-rate orchestral playing under the skilled baton of Anthony Barrese."

 

ALBERT WILLIAMS, CHICAGO READER
JUNE 12 2012

Lucia di Lammermoor

Sarasota Opera

"Conductor Anthony Barrese showed supreme sympathy with Donizetti’s melodious score, leading a taut, atmospheric account, sustaining the long bel canto lines superbly and bringing great lift and buoyancy to the toe-tapping rhythms."

 

LAWRENCE A. JOHNSON, SOUTH FLORIDA CLASSICAL REVIEW
MARCH 18 2012

"…Anthony Barrese kept good rhythm, pacing and tension, involving the audience in this ill-fated love affair."

 

KARYL CHARNA LYNN, OPERA NOW, U.K.
APRIL 26 2012

"Under the direction of Anthony Barrese, the Sarasota Opera Orchestra played the preludes to each scene with its customary finesse."

 

RICHARD STORM, HERALD TRIBUNE
FEBRUARY 19 2012

"We knew the orchestra, under Anthony Barrese, was in good form…Barrese, in the pit, seemed to breathe with the singers, leading while following, and making his orchestra sound rich but never overpowering."

 

JUNE LEBELL, LONGBOAT OBSERVER
FEBRUARY 22 2012

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