A Star Mezzo
"In the title role as Leonora, Catherine Martin brought a lush mezzo voice with agility in the coloratura and an even line. While her opening lines in the duet “Ah. mio bene” gave off some uncertainty, she quickly warmed up to showcase a rich timbre moving through the music with ease. During her duet with LaBrie, “In questo suolo a lusingar tue cure,” the two singers’ voices easily meshed, combining Martin’s anguish with LaBrie’s ardent passion. And as Act two built toward’s its finale, Martin’s desperation and torment built. Her voice grew with force and the sometimes icy qualities of the timbre shaped into a passionate outburst.
And it all climaxed in her Act three scene with the aria “O Mio Fernando.” This was perhaps the highlight for Martin. The mezzo gave the aria a yearning quality that expressed Leonora’s suffering and shaped each line with a delicate legato. This was in stark contrast to her cabaletta “Scritto e in ciel,” which not only showcased the soprano’s virtuosic agility, but also the fierceness in the voice and her dramatic weight. What made the cabaletta even more potent was Martin’s growing intensity and the fact that she never indulged in unnecessary coloratura. She sang each phrase with immediacy, giving the final moments force.
In Act four one finally saw the dramatic voice that Martin has. There was conflict, torment, and desperation within each of her phrases. But as the final duet built toward the climax in which the first act duet is repeated, Martin brought a bright color to her timbre. There was a moment of ecstasy as she unleashed her full vocal power. As Leonora sings her final dying phrases, Martin gave off a pure piano sound with such finesse that it was arguably the most heartbreaking moment of the evening.
Like LaBrie, Martin was as active as she could be on stage, interacting with her partners and reacting to the text with precision and immediacy. One got the sense that Martin wanted to move toward her partners and be able to have more contact, which only made this reviewer picture what a fully staged “Favorita” would be like with Martin allowed to have more physical contact with her castmates. Nonetheless, Martin perfectly suited for this role and one hopes to see this mezzo get a fully staged production in the future." -Opera Wire
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