Rave reviews for Calenos and Birsan in Madison Opera “Bohème”

“The central role of Mimi, the irresistibly sweet heroine who succumbs to tuberculosis, was brought to winsome life by ELENI CALENOS. She technically made her company debut at last summer’s Opera in the Park, but this was her first stage appearance here. The voice is strong, attractive, unforced and she can act. Vivid evidence of this–and of the kinds of touches director David Lefkowich would bring–came in Act I when the ardent Rodolfo declares his passion; Calenos turns away from him coyly–and toward the audience, allowing us to see her unabashed joy at his affection. . . EMILY BIRSAN was not just a vocal knock-out as Musetta, but brought a depth to the role not always encountered. It is one thing for a soprano to show her tender side as Mimi embarks on her deathbed scene, but even in Act II with the great “Musetta’s Waltz” number, we find Birsan–again with the deft and inventive hand of Lefkowich–bringing more than just a vocal characterization. She begins the famous number in a kind of halting half-waltz with her sugar daddy, Alcindoro, and then in mid-aria works the crowd of gawking onlookers in Carmen-esque “Habanera” fashion. A great touch.” Madison Magazine

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“Soprano ELENI CALENOS sings the role of Mimì with grace and agility, showcased on arias like “Sì, mi chiamano Mimì.” She also sparkles in duets with Whitney, as in Act III’s ensemble, “Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!” (“Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning”). . . Musetta, with her shimmying skirts and big smile, is easily the highlight of the show, played by EMILY BIRSAN. Birsan is a soprano on the rise that Madison can lay some claim to launching, since she picked up a master of music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010. She makes for a lusty, free-spirited Musetta, and she brings the house down with a glorious rendition of the familiar “Quando men vo,” also known as Musetta’s waltz.” -The Cap Times

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