Solid…Masterful… interesting works that deserve further exposure…the Real Deal.
—Chris Spector – Midwest Record, January 4, 2022 (Review for CD recording ‘Were I With Thee’ with Dana Brown)
This is the time of year, with concerts scarce on the ground while musicians share holiday time with friends and family, that I turn to new recordings for musical inspiration. A new CD by Chicago-based soprano Michelle Areyzaga and pianist Dana Brown was the perfect tonic as I stayed inside avoiding our first snowfalls of the year.
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—M.L. Rantala – The Hyde Park Herald, January 3, 2022 (Review for CD recording ‘Were I With Thee’ with Dana Brown)
A Sunday afternoon of alluring parables at I-House
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga was outstanding in her interpretation, giving each setting its own individual characterization. The cycle opens with a night scene that Areyzaga sang with caressing quiet…
“The soprano was superb… Areyzaga returned for Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” joined by [Gerald] Rizzer at the piano. They wonderfully captured the allure of a lazy summer evening, as folks sit on their porches or lie in the grass observing the stars. Rizzer was a sensitive partner to Areyzaga, who was always perceptive in her interpretations of the text by James Agee. It was a treat to listen and be drawn into another world and another time.”
—M.L. Rantala – The Hyde Park Herald, January 22, 2020 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
Barber’s “Knoxville” the high point in Chicago Ensemble’s Americana survey
“The performance was anchored by Areyzaga’s round timbre. … attentive to the sound and shape of the text.
“The finest part of the concert was the performance of the most substantial work: Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a lyrical setting of James Agee’s richly evocative description of his Tennessee childhood.There are two ways to paint childhood: with sentimentality or with simplicity. Areyzaga and [Gerald] Rizzer took the latter approach. She resisted the urge to sound cutesy. She let her natural clarity of diction and expression carry the piece.”
—John Y. Lawrence – Chicago Classical Review, January 20, 2020 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga launches and closes the cantata with radiant solos”
—Daniel Hathaway – Cleveland Classical, December 13, 2019 (Soprano for Dona Nobis Pacem CD recording with the Richmond Symphony)
“Understated and acutely sensitive work from Areyazga and Deas, and expert musicianship from the chorus and orchestra. Dona Nobis Pacem is music that’s hard to forget -…. This recording is a fine and most welcome revival.”
—Jon Sobel – Seattle Pi, November 19, 2019 (Soprano for Dona Nobis Pacem CD recording with the Richmond Symphony)
“Michelle Areyzaga . . . sang jubilantly in the jazz trio.”
—Howard Reich – Chicago Tribune, August 23, 2019 (As a member of the jazz vocal trio in Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti”)
“Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s story has been told via films, books and uncounted articles. But the portrait of her that emerged Sunday afternoon at Spertus Institute explored the tale through a rather different and more intimate medium: the art song. […] Michelle Areyzaga, blessed with a radiant and all-encompassing soprano, captured the hurt and yearning of ‘Celia: An Imagined Letter From Friday, August 12, 1949,’ in which [Chicago soprano-composer Patrice] Michaels’ ingenious text conjured the indomitable character of Justice Ginsburg’s mother.”
—Howard Reich – Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2019 (As Celia Bader (née Amster) in Patrice Michaels’ “Notorious RBG in Song”)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga took a light-hearted approach to ‘Spring,’ infusing it with easy flowing diction and warm fun. She was restrained in ‘Sleep’ and was given particularly sympathetic accompaniment by Rizzer. Areyzaga knew just how long to float the gently sung high notes in ‘Diaphenia.’ […] The opening work of the afternoon, Alessandro Scarlatti’s cantata ‘Son contenta di soffrire’ (‘I am content to suffer’) found Areyzaga in fine form, effectively expressing the suffering of a woman who loves a man who is unfaithful to her. […] Areyzaga sang with gorgeous tone and phrasing.”
—M.L. Rantala – The Hyde Park Herald, April 25, 2018 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Michelle Areyzaga showcased very challenging 20th century repertoire and a true mastery of the craft. […] Ms. Areyzaga has chosen to offer a variety of art songs from the 20th century to today. The care she takes in her delivery of text in Walker’s Waterbird shows a deep knowledge of storytelling and performance. The overall vocal production allows for true flexibility with each song she presents. Her quality of tone is full yet remains clear and distinct. It is obvious that she has a passion for connecting strongly with text and delivering its meaning personally while adhering to the composer’s wishes. Upon hearing each track that Michelle offers, one can feel her soul putting forth all she has in her performance. Her artistry in this medium is one that should not go unrecognized. Brava.”
—Dr. Jay White – judge for The Friedrich & Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards’ American Prize in Vocal Performance, March 2018
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga and pianist Jamie Shaak deliver performances of stunning beauty, clarity, and eloquence. Ms. Areyzaga’s voice has a luminous radiance from top to bottom, and she deploys that sound with elegant ease in even the most taxing of these songs. Beyond the exquisite sound she produces, the soprano also has a limitless palette of emotional and expressive colors and inflections from which she draws. One seldom encounters singing that is this richly communicative yet so unfailingly lovely. ”
—Gregory Berg – NATS: The Listener’s Gallery, January 2017 (Review of The Sun is Love CD)
Chamber Music Society pays tribute to Schubert
“…The second half was lighter with sensational singing from soprano Michelle Areyzaga in Andre Previn’s “Vocalise for Soprano, Cello and Piano” (1995) and William Bolcom’s “Cabaret Songs for Voice and Piano” (1978, 1996). Her lustrous voice, jazz styling, and theatrical manner really sold the songs. Bax was the perfect partner with his flexible sense of time and light touch.”
—Geraldine Freedman – The Daily Gazette, August 14, 2016 (Soloist with the Chamber Music Society)
Chamber Music Society delivers with style
“…Things brightened up after intermission. Andre Previn’s “Vocalise” was a patchwork of luscious bits performed by soprano Michelle Areyzaga, cellist David Finckel and pianist Alessio Bax.
…Three cabaret songs of William Bolcom returned Areyzaga and Bax to the stage. The soprano showed some charming acting ability and also perfectly placed into the hall notes from her highest range and whispers from her softest voice.”
—Joseph Dalton – Times Union, August 14, 2016 (Soloist with the Chamber Music Society)
Fine Hyde Park performance of rarely heard music
“The concert opened with Giocomo Meyerbeer’s Hirtenlied, written for soprano, clarinet and piano. Areyzaga performed this idyllic song about a shepherd high above the rest of world with beautiful clarity and sweetness.
…The newest and longest composition on the program was Songs of the Kisaeng by the young Hawaiian composer Michael-Thomas Foumai, written in 2010. Areyzaga was a splendid interpreter, offering a versatile performance filled with warmth, wonder, anguish, and resignation. She moved seamlessly from spoken lines to sung ones, from caressing, quiet moments to bold, forceful declarations. ”
—M.L. Rantala – The Hyde Park Herald, November 11, 2015 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
Soprano Areyzaga warms up a rainy night in Chicago Ensemble opener
“No chamber series in town roves as widely nor as adventurously, and so it proved again with Tuesday evening’s generous program sparked by soprano Michelle Areyzaga, who led off the concert with a rarity by Meyerbeer.
…The clear inspiration for Hirtenlied is Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, also scored for soprano, clarinet and piano. If Meyerbeer’s version is less melodically indelible, his setting offers well-balanced opportunities for voice and clarinet. With Rizzer lending discreet piano support, Areyzaga and clarinetist Elizandro Garcia-Montoya were a wonderfully simpatico duo, exchanging phrases gracefully, the soprano singing with pure tone and Garcia-Montoya’s phrasing agile and polished.
…Areyzaga’s performance was extraordinary and a tour de force. With a radiant, evenly produced soprano and crystal-clear diction, she brought to life the passion, melancholy, and wistfulness of these settings, segueing evenly from simple spoken lines to declamation and full-throated vocalism.”
—Lawrence Johnson – Chicago Classical Review, October 29, 2015 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Areyzaga had many opportunities to shine and she took them firmly in hand. In a 2001 work by American composer Mark Zuckerman — “Ménagerie” — she was an apt story-teller, bringing to life poetry by Robert Desnos which Rizzer noted was beloved by French children. “Le Léopard” was enhanced by Levitin’s flute, which at first merely purred but then offered a dangerous growling sound evoking danger. Areyzaga had the wide-eyed awe of both the detached reciter as well as innocent listening child. There was a sense of quiet night with soft cat feet in the dark forest, hiding and waiting. Similarly, “Le Ver luisant” (The Glow Worm) had nocturnal effectiveness with the instrumentalists creating the twinkle of the stars while the soprano had the fragile quality of the uncertain light of the firefly.
… Areyzaga was sweet and gentle in some selected songs by Poulenc, and committed in the 1923 Suite for soprano and violin by Villa-Lobos.”
—M.L. Rantala – The Hyde Park Herald, June 10, 2015 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Michelle Areyzaga was the standout, her high soprano–and exemplary diction–soaring in her solo moments as the blind man’s mother. […] The finest moments were once again provided by Areyzaga’s sensitive and evocative solo singing.”
—Lawrence Johnson – Chicago Classical Review, April 25, 2015 (Soloist with the Chicago Master Singers and Ars Viva Symphony)
“…intelligently and sensitively sung by soprano Michelle Areyzaga … captured the pointillist essence of Beckett’s language; and Areyzaga’s robust singing in “Roundelay” was colored with gentle commentary from the flute and viola.”
—Tim Sawyier – Chicago Classical Review, March 2, 2015 (Soloist with Contempo)
“The highlight of the first half was Max Reger’s breathtakingly lovely “Maria Wiegenlied”, or Mary’s Cradle Song. Areyzaga, the soprano, sang it beautifully.”
—Mary Kunz Goldman – The Buffalo News, December 12, 2014 (Soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
“Michelle Areyzaga‘s bright luminous soprano made the most of her opportunities with lovely singing in the Lux aeterna.”
—Lawrence Johnson – Chicago Classical Review, November 9, 2014 (Soloist with the Chicago Master Singers and Ars Viva Symphony)
“. . . a richly sonorous soprano, Michelle Areyzaga in that finale.”
—Clarke Bustard – Instant Encore/Letter V, October 18, 2014 (Soloist in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony No. 2)
“. . . the choir, orchestra, and two soloists rendered it spectacularly.”
—Gene Harris – Richmond Times Dispatch, October 19, 2014 (Soloist in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony No. 2)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga offered some lovely vocal performances, starting with J.S. Bach’s “Ich esse mit Freuden” from Cantata No. 84, in which she found the joy the composer captured so well.
Her biggest triumph was found in songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams: three selections from Blake Songs (1957) and three more from “Along the Field (1927).” These small gems were performed with simplicity and naturalness. In the first set, Areyzaga was joined by oboist Ricardo Castañeda, and in the second by violinist Mathias Tacke, each offering superb collaboration.
In Mozart’s “Non più. Tutto ascoltai…” Areyzaga sang the parts both of Ilia and Idamante to tremendous effect. In some Brahms songs for soprano and piano, Areyzaga proved an apt storyteller and offered ravishing sound.”
—M.L. Rantala – Hyde Park Herald, July 9, 2014 (Soloist with Chicago Ensemble)
“Guitarist Rene Izquierdo and soprano Michelle Areyzaga delighted and surprised the audience in their performance, part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented by the Tucson Guitar Society, featured with a program of French and Spanish music. Ms. Areyzaga’s voice was mesmerizing as the duo performed Villa-Lobos’ ‘Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5’. Mr. Izquierdo’s fingers seemed to float over the strings in his solo guitar pieces creating the most pleasing music.”
—Tucson Desert Song Festival, February 7, 2014
“Baritone Michael Cavalieri as The Announcer, Newell and much-admired area soprano Michelle Areyzega as the Young Lovers, and another tenor-soprano pair, John Concepcion and Catalina Cuervo as The Admirers, are all super …”
—Andrew Patner – The Chicago Sun-Times, November 22, 2013 (Soloist in Gustavo Leone’s “Absurdopera”)
“The soprano soloist, Michelle Areyzaga, blossomed from the choral sound organically and beautifully.”
—Tim Christiansen – The Chicago Classical Review, May 18, 2013 (Soloist with Lake Forest Symphony)
“Michelle Areyzaga demonstrated an appealing, expressive soprano in Berg’s ‘Seven Early Songs’….”
—Vivien Schweitzer – The New York Times, March 12, 2013 (Soloist with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center)
“Despite a predicted ice storm, her fans filled the audience…. The highly popular singer presented three sets of songs, two in Spanish — ‘Tres Poemas de Gabriela Mistral’ by Wayland Rogers and ‘Suite for Soprano and Violin’ by Hector Villa-Lobos, as well [as] one in English — ‘The Life of the Bee,’ for Soprano, Cello and Piano by Lee Hoiby…. The star of the show was undoubtably soprano Michelle Areyzaga. … Arezaga was particularly at home in the Villa-Lobos folk songs, using her full, flexible voice to navigate the numerous tra-li-las and vocalise…. The soprano is also a confident and talented interpreter. In the second song, when assuring a child of the reality of guardian angels, she was every bit the tender mother, and in the last song, ‘Close to Me,’ she could break your heart.”
—Dorothy Andries – Libertyville Review, February 20, 2013 (Soloist with Pilgrim Chamber Players)
“Areyzaga caressed the lulling lines of text, creating a calm yet vivid portrait of a summer evening. She sang with a light yet clear-toned voice, completely avoiding an annoying or stilting effect.”
—M.L. Rantala – Hyde Park Herald, November 29, 2012 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Areyzaga‘s rendition of ‘Glitter and Be Gay’ was easily the highlight of the set. Her sense of comic irony brought laughter as she pulled baubles from her bosom, and her spectacular coloratura singing shone brightly in this devilishly difficult number.”
—Gene Harris – Richmond Times Dispatch, October 1, 2012 (Soloist with the Richmond Symphony)
“Without undue histrionics, Areyzaga drew us into her songs like a gifted storyteller. In pairs of songs by Duparc and Chausson, she explored various layers of melancholy. A sense of almost angry resignation suffused Chausson’s Le Temps de Lilas (The Time of Lilacs) while her sorrow was more rapt and ethereal in his Nos souveniers (Our Memories). In six Spanish-flavored songs by Dan Tucker, her long melodies, confident virtuoso flights and sweet, ringing tone stood out clearly against Rizzer’s rhythmically bracingly, brightly dissonant accompaniment.”
—Wynne Delacoma – Chicago Classical Review, May 30, 2012 (Soloist with the Chicago Ensemble)
“Smaller roles were strongly cast, especially soprano Michelle Areyzaga‘s warmly lyrical Ismene.”
—Judith Malafronte – Opera News, May 2012 (As Ismene in New York City Opera’s “Orpheus”)
“Michelle Areyzaga held her own as the queen’s confidante, whose arias might have gone unnoticed were Areyzaga not making vocal points.”
—Parterre Box, May 2012 (As Ismene in New York City Opera’s “Orpheus”)
“Michelle Areyzaga‘s bright soprano soared over the forces thrillingly in the dramatic moments . . . There were some bright spots like the majestic opening Kyrie and Areyzaga’s sweetly sung solo in the concluding Agnus Dei.”
—Lawrence Johnson – Chicago Classical Review, November 6, 2011 (Soloist with the Chicago Master Singers and Ars Viva Symphony)
“Of the vocal soloists, the most impressive singing came from the ever-dependable soprano Michelle Areyzaga in a radiant and fluent “Laudamus te,” as well as in her “Christe eleison” duet.
—John von Rhein – Chicago Tribune, Chorus musters honorable effort on behalf of Bach’s towering B minor Mass, June 13, 2011 (Soloist with North Shore Choral Society)
“The area’s reigning soprano, Michelle Areyzaga…”
—”Pioneer Local, Choral Society treats ‘burbs to Bach’s B minor”, June 9, 2011 (Soloist with North Shore Choral Society)
“Areyzaga has a gleaming voice, expertly pitched and she sang with great heart. Even with the orchestral’s full force behind her, she sailed through, her tone suffused with light.”
—Dorothy Andries – Winnetka Sun Times, Perfect Storm of Harmonies from Lake Forest Symphony, May 25, 2011 (Soloist with Lake Forest Symphony)
“Because of her strong voice and sweet nature, Areyzaga is in demand for performances throughout the country . . . ‘Michelle has a very expressive voice,’ Walker said, with obvious admiration. ‘It comes from her soul.'”—Dorothy Andries – Pioneer Press, January 27, 2011 (Soloist with Evanston Symphony Orchestra)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga quickly substantiates her fine reputation as a song recitalist and chamber musician through a translucent tone that shimmers across the wide range of these songs. She communicates text particularly well in a high tessitura, whether singing over spare accompaniment or at the dramatic climax of the cycle. The tone color is well chosen, reflecting the simplicity of the poetry but not neglecting the lush sounds audiences have come to expect from her singing…. Areyzaga’s warm and light approach carries one away into the world of the poet.”
—Jamie Reimer – Journal of IAWM, 2010 (Soloist on Songs from Spoon River)
“To take nothing away from the other three vocalists, Michelle Areyzaga stood out for her magnificently dexterous soprano that projected best in the chapel’s cavernous space.”
—Bryant Manning – Chicago Classical Review, Nov 6, 2010 (Chicago Master Singers)
“Ravel’s Sheherazade, sung by angel-voiced soprano Michelle Areyzaga . . . The soprano for this concert was the lovely favorite Areyzaga, and the intricate weave of words and music fit her glowing voice like a Chanel gown. She is a warm, elegant singer and even at her most powerful moments she maintains a refinement and grace that adds luster to the music. In these songs, her voice just floated out, clear and easy, shimmering through a poem about the mysteries of Asia, the joy of anticipated love, and a verse about the intense impact a stranger can make upon the heart of another.”
—Dorothy Andries – Pioneer Press, Sept 16, 2010 (In Ravel’s “Shéhérazade”)
“Michelle Areyzaga possesses a pure, attractive soprano with reserves of power, well suited to these atmospheric Ravel settings.”
—Lawrence Johnson – Chicago Classical Review, Sept 11, 2010 (In Ravel’s “Shéhérazade”)
“Michelle Areyzaga was impish as Susanna and an absolute delight.”
—Marty Lash – Door County Advocate, August 2010 (Susanna in Peninsula Music Festival’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”)
“. . . soprano Michelle Areyzaga as Tula also brings immense beauty to her vocalizations.”
—Dennis Polkow – Newcity Stage, June 8, 2010 (Tula in Chamber Opera Chicago’s “Maria La O”)
“. . . and the evening’s finest singer, pure-voiced soprano Michelle Areyzaga as the sweet and innocent Tula.”
—Gerald Fisher – Chicago Classical Review, June 7, 2010 (Tula in Chamber Opera Chicago’s “Maria La O”)
“Michelle Areyzaga offers the finest singing of them all as the trusting Tula.”
—John von Rhein – The Chicago Tribune, June 7, 2010 (Tula in Chamber Opera Chicago’s “Maria La O”)
“The ethereal effect of vocal chamber music was particularly enhanced by the solos of concertmaster Thomas Yang, harpist Stephen Hartman and the sweetly soaring soprano of Michelle Areyzaga. The church acoustics were not so resonant as to blur words or their expressive sense.”
—John von Rhein – The Chicago Tribune, May 24, 2010(Soloist with the St. Charles Singers, John Rutter conducting)
“Excerpts from 10 diverse works were performed by the City Opera orchestra and chorus and an impressive roster of solo singers. In a particularly effective scene, the dying Juana sang an imagined duet with her younger self (Michelle Areyzaga).”
—Anthony Tommasini – The New York Times, May 7, 2010 (soloist at New York City Opera VOX Festival)
“A find. Michelle Areyzaga stands out as a singer who reaches out to a listener without resorting to hokey vocal clichés.”
—S.G.S. – Classical CD Review – May 2010(CD “Songs from Spoon River”)
“Soloists Michelle Areyzaga, soprano, and Thomas Hall, baritone, possess fine technique and performed with ease, power and finesse.”
—David Baxter – The Wichita Eagle, April 13, 2010 (Soloist with The Wichita Symphony)
“Stellar cast propels ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ in Opera Birmingham show . . . Michelle Areyzaga‘s portrayal of Susanna began coyly, then took on attitude as she sought to expose the skirt-chasing Count. Her rich-hued soprano, sstrong all evening, was particularly enchanting in the Act 4 “Deh vieni, non tardar.”
—Michael Huebner – The Birmingham News, March 20, 2010 (Susanna in Opera Birmingham’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”)
“Areyzaga’s upbeat and sterling soprano in Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgaten from BWV 100 set up a delightfully florid flute obligato. . . Areyzaga’s shining moment came with Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (D. 965), which had her poignantly setting up a call and response antiphon with Garcia-Montoya’s clarinet mournfully echoing her melancholy.”
—Dennis Polkow – Chicago Classical Review, Feb. 23, 2010 (Soloist with The Chicago Ensemble)
“When the program is delicious and the soloists are superior, there’s nothing for an audience to do but sit back and enjoy.
“Lovely soprano Michelle Areyzaga was soloist in the “Pie Jesu” portion and durable baritone Robert Orth sang the “Libera Me,” which referenced the terrors of the day of wrath (“dies irae.”) Both “Requiem” soloists are well known by area music fans and it was a pleasure to hear them.
“Areyzaga sang Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise with amazing ease, her incandescent voice wrapping around the luscious melody as if it had been written just for her. This soprano has always had a fine, pleasing voice and a gracious stage manner. But in the last few years, her voice has grown stronger, developing a rich, luminous quality, which leaves her audiences cheering for more.”
—Dorothy Andries – Evanston Review, Sun-Times News Group, June 1, 2009 (Soloist in Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” and Faure’s “Requiem”)
“For Michelle Areyzaga, a soprano fluent in Spanish, Mr. Blier programmed Jesús Guridi’s tender “Mañanita de San Juan” (“Very Early on the Morning of St. John’s Day”) and Joaquín Turina’s stormy, melodramatic “Olas Gigantes” (“Giant Waves”).”
“Ms. Areyzaga gave her most alluring performance in “La Barcheta” (“The Little Boat”), a rapturously amorous confection by Reynaldo Hahn. She and Ms. Cooke harmonized sweetly in “Havanaise,” a Pauline Viardot duet that started out warm and breathy, and became more intricate and demanding with each repeat.”
—Steve Smith – The New York Times, May 21, 2009(Recital with the New York Festival of Song)
“Michelle Areyzaga brought the many colors of her beautiful soprano to bear on Schubert’s “Auf dem See.” Areyzaga also made a persuasive case for the riches of a song by the long underrated Reynaldo Hahn.”
—Howard Kissell – New York Daily News, May 20, 2009 (Recital with the New York Festival of Song)
“The blending of Areyzaga and Cooke’s voices was literally thrilling, causing a flutter in that place near the top of where I imagine my heart to be. Certain singers, male or female, can cause that flutter with particularly well-executed harmonies. While the composer plays a part, songs are meant to be sung, and when they are sung so well, so smoothly, and with so much feeling, I find that, even as I write this, I’m feeling it again. “In the Garden, Near the Ford,” by our familiar friend Tchaikovsky, is the story of a young girl spurned by the man she favors. The two female voices intertwining have the sweetness of morning glories. This alone would have made the concert worth attending.
“A path was threaded through … to Schubert’s “Auf Dem See,” where Areyzaga liltingly limned an aquatic exercise in concentration.
“Fortunately, after intermission, our tour of beaches brings us to “Mananita de San Juan.” This lyric piece, paired with “Olas Gigantes,” was another study in contrasts by Areyzaga. First, she took us to a St. John’s day morn and a close encounter with a dove, which then turned to an entreaty of love. Next, we were shown the more serious aftermath of love’s departure in the thundering and bitter waves of the ocean. Blier’s selections for each of his singers treated us to lavish displays of individual talents in their fullness of range, timbre and dynamics. In this case D was for Delicious!
“Areyzaga continued with Reynaldo Hahn’s “La barcheta,” from the cycle of songs he wrote when he and Marcel Proust first fell in love. The music and lyrics evoked the feeling of a special night, when a couple may feel privately entertained by all that’s around them.
“The final section of the program contained the piece that vied with the earlier Tchaikovsky for my favorite of the evening. Pauline Viardot’s “Havanaise” is a paella of Spanish and French influences with an apparent soupçon of Italian flavoring. Areyzaga and Cooke combined in enchantment, as their voices intertwined like Renaissance scrollwork on an old building. The song’s Latin flavor, with French sensibility and some Italian figures, left me wanting more, as any good outing will do.”
—Sherri Rase – New York Q News, May 20, 2009 (Recital with the New York Festival of Song)
“Solo soprano Michelle Areyzaga also excelled, especially in the slow “Domine Deus” movement, where her rich, high tones produced some of the evening’s loveliest moments.”
—Laurence MacDonald – The Flint Journal, April 28, 2009 (Soloist in Poulenc’s “Gloria”)
“Gustavo Leone’s “Mundo,” for voice and orchestra, draws its vocal text from the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayans, evoking a sense of pre-Columbian culture. Its lush, movie/music-like scoring, laced with jungle drums and soaring vocal lines, reminds one of the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Forest of the Amazon.” It’s an unabashed crowd-pleaser, and soprano Michelle Areyzaga threw herself into it with rapturous expression and body language to match.”
—John von Rhein – Chicago Tribune, Aug. 4, 2008 (Grant Park Festival)
“. . Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter . . . and . . . excellent singers . . . provided ample delight. Areyzaga, a soprano of gleaming gifts, was disarming in “A Little Bit in Love” (“Wonderful Town”) and soaring in “One Hand, One Heart” (“West Side Story”), the latter with Picon, whose tenor is fresh and ardent . . .”
—Donald Rosenberg – Cleveland Plain Dealer, ‘Bernstein Tribute at Blossom Leaves Admirers Wishing For More,’ Aug. 25, 2008 (Soloist in Bernstein on Broadway at the Blossom Festival)
“Poulenc’s “Gloria” with soprano Michelle Areyzaga as soloist. She’s a favorite around the Chicago music scene and in addition to the Poulenc, she treated us to seven of Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne.
“Canteloube did not write the melodies, but he collected 33 of these folk songs from his native area of France and gave them dazzling orchestrations. Most of the songs Areyzaga chose were unfamiliar to me, but they were by turns touching, humorous and high-spirited.
“In this glowing performance, the young soprano showed us that in addition to her shimmering voice she is also quite an actress, imbuing the songs with her vivacious personality. She sang in the dialect of the Auvergne region, not French, which also gave them a unique aura.
“The “Gloria” was a contrast to the songs, but it was not particularly solemn. The “Domine Deus, Rex Caelestis” was glorious, and the “Agnus Dei” was, well, heavenly. Areyzaga’s voice soared gracefully above and around and through the accompaniment, light but never faint, direct, but buoyant in its fluidity.”
—Dorothy Andries – Evanston Review, Sun-Times News Group, Sunny Days for Aurora Soprano, March 20, 2008 (Soloist in Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne” and Poulenc’s “Gloria”)
“If you enjoy the direction that contemporary American music is going these days you are probably familiar with the music of Gwyneth Walker, who has written over 130 commissioned works for orchestra, band, chorus and chamber ensembles. Michelle Areyzaga, soprano, is a champion of modern music and has presented the songs on this CD over WFMT. Areyzaga was the first singer to present Walker’s The Sun is Love in 2002. which is the last group of songs on the album.
“All the songs in the album are based on the poetry of e. e. Cummings, Mary Swenson, and Jelaluddin Rumi.
“Areyzaga sings opera at such spots as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theatre and Light Opera Works and has appeared with the Grant Park Symphony. She has been the soloist in a recent Lord Nelson Mass with the orchestra of London’s Royal Academy of Music and the St. Charles Singers. Areyzaga can cast her voice two ways singing in both a classical and popular style which is no easy feat.
“Winter nights are a perfect setting for listening to these intimate songs and Areyzaga has just the right kind of songstress voice to communicate the magic of each offering. The poetry is as pleasing as the music. “I would love to kiss you. The price of kissing is your life.”
—Jim Edwards – Sun-Times News Group – Dec 13, 2007 (CD “The Sun is Love”)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga with a voice that can send a delightful chill up your spine, made the most of her time on stage, turning in a mincing Cunégonde (Candide) and tender Maria (West Side Story).”
—Jennifer Roolf Laster – Express-News – Sep 16, 2007 (Soloist in Bernstein on Broadway with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra)
Aurora soprano brings down the opera house
“Good news! DuPage Opera Theatre, under the baton of Kurt Muspratt, has come up with just the right singers and musicians to make La Bohème crackle with excitement. Finding just the right Mimì helped.
“Michelle Areyzaga learned the role of Mimì in a very short span of time for this production. She did know the opera since she is often cast as the sexy Musetta in La Bohème.
“Areyzaga is one fine Mimì. She was able to give us just the right sounds. She discovers love in a darkened studio searching for a lost key with a young poet named Rudolfo, who runs with a wild and crazy group of Parisian young men. Areyzaga never strains her beautiful clear voice nor attempts to battle Musetta in high note duels. She is at her best breathing life into softer passages often raced over by other sopranos. Her death scene in Act IV was especially tender and realistic.
“The death of Mimì in Act IV was not overplayed by Areyzaga, who kept her voice devoid of gimmicks, leaving the final swirl of loud and dramatic notes to Muspratt and the inspired playing of the DuPage Opera Theatre Orchestra.
“At curtain call time, Muspratt and La Tour joined the cast on stage to enthusiastic applause but it was Michelle Areyzaga, the “Mimì of the Moment” who got the standing ovation.“
—Jim Edwards – Special to the Beacon News – July 26, 2007 (As Mimì in La Bohème)
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga charmed with ‘A Little Bit In Love’ and delivered Maria’s music from West Side Story with sweet intensity.”
—Clifton J. Noble, Jr. – The Republican (Springfield, MA) (Soloist in Bernstein on Broadway with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra)
Sunny soprano shines in 2006
“Soprano Michelle Areyzaga sings like an angel, and every time she performs she sounds better than the last time. When she sang with the Lake Forest Symphony in Grayslake in late October, it seemed that Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” had been written just for her.
“Areyzaga has been singing in the Chicago area since the late 1990s, but she seemed to burst onto the North Shore music scene in 2004, when she sang the enchanting “Les Nuits d’ete” by Berlioz with the Ars Viva Orchestra at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.
“She was engaged the following year to sing Benjamin Britten’s “Les Illuminations.” Last June she appeared with the North Shore Choral Society, under the direction of Donald Chen, for its big 70th anniversary concert at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall in Evanston. The work was Robert Schumann’s massive “Paradise and the Peri.” Areyzaga sang the Peri to tumultuous applause and critical acclaim.
“In November she was a soloist with the Alan Heatherington’s Chicago Master Singers and his Ars Viva Orchestra in the Mozart “Requiem” in Techny’s Divine Word Chapel. The sunny soprano, who lives in Aurora, holds a degree in voice performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and has become a favorite with area conductors. Not only has she been tapped by Heatherington, but she has come to the attention of Stephen Alltop of Northwestern University, conductor of the Apollo Chorus in Chicago and director of programs at Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston.
“‘She is so flexible and so easy to work with,’ Alltop said, ‘in addition to that radiantly lovely voice.’ He has engaged her to sing in the Apollo Chorus presentation of Handel’s “Solomon” the afternoon of March 4 at the Harris Theater in Chicago.
“Areyzaga also has worked extensively with conductor Francesco Milioto, director of programs at the Chicago Cultural Center and assistant conductor of the Highland Park Strings. She sang Pamina in his production of “The Magic Flute” last summer and is scheduled to sing Samuel Barber’s powerful “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” with his New Millennium Orchestra Jan. 26 at the Cultural Center.
“Michelle sang Zerlina in the first opera I did in Chicago back in 1998 or ’99,” said Milioto, who hails from Canada. “She has such grace and poise. The audience falls in love with her instantly. There is usually a barrier between a singer and the audience — she doesn’t have one. In addition to her fantastic singing voice, she has this wonderful gift of making the audience feel she is singing just for them.”
“As a member of the audience, this critic has been immediately bewitched by her dazzling smile, then grandly entertained by her ever-more-glowing soprano. And it was apparent that even as we enjoyed hearing her sing, she enjoyed singing for us just as much. Compelling reasons to spotlight Michelle Areyzaga as our Artist of the Year for 2006.”
—Dorothy Andries – Pioneer Press – December 28, 2006 (Named “Artist of the Year”)
“This album’s appeal owes much to the singing of Michelle Areyzaga, who has a sweet, unaffected voice and meticulous diction just right for these appealing tunes.”
—Sullivan – American Record Guide – November/December 2006
☆☆☆☆☆ Genuine honesty
“This is an outstanding CD. Walker’s music is beautiful in itself, and it is performed with such honesty by this soprano Michelle Areyzaga and her collaborator Jamie Shaak.”
“I especially loved ‘The Sunrise Ruby.’ Ms. Areyzaga’s vocal technique is flawless. She creates a sonic world that transports the listener. Her phrases intend to illuminate the music, and she uses the sheer beauty of her voice not to glorify herself but to express.
“I am a real fan of Gwyneth Walker’s choral music. She has the same human sensitivity as she approaches solo literature. The sound always created to express something about what it is to live this human life.”
Bravi Tutti! Highly recommended!
—4cdmusic.com – 2006
☆☆☆☆☆ Enriching and delightful!
“I find myself continually listening to this CD, it has such grace and richness. Gwyneth Walker is a remarkable composer. She is extremely innovative and creative with her compositions especially with my favorite piece on the album “Rhythms of the North Country. Jamie Shaak is an accomplished and talented pianist. Her flow and timing is absolutely mesmerizing! The voice of Michelle Areyzaga has crystal clarity and she is a gorgeous soprano. Both Ms. Shaak and Areyzaga have terrific synergy which comes through on this album. If you want something that is soothing and interesting I highly recommend purchasing this album!!”
—4cdmusic.com – 2006
Soprano Areyzaga’s voice was made for Mozart.
“The highlight of the night was the appearance of soprano Michelle Areyzaga, a rising star on the Chicago music scene. She sang Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” — a winning number on any program and a star turn for her.
“Her tone was bell-like, clear and pure. As she sang it seemed her voice had been made for Mozart, though she was also lovely singing Schumann last spring with the North Shore Choral Society.
“But it was more than the pristine tone that endeared her. Her voice was flexible, fluid, moving swiftly and surely throughout the trills and turns of the highly ornamented piece. She also took care with her diction, which added to the clarity of her work.
“Her tone, especially in the lower register was particularly compatible with the orchestral sound, so that at times, she seemed to disappear into the ensemble and become one with the orchestra musicians.
“Besides that, she looked as if she loved every minute on stage, smiling graciously at the audience, while singing this highly transparent and challenging work.
“The final aria in this work is the beloved “Alleluia,” which she sang with multiple moods, at times as if she were telling us a happy secret and at others as if she were singing from the rooftops.
“As a bonus, she sang a scheduled encore titled “Nehmt meinen Dank, ihr holden Gonner!” by Mozart, with splendid accompaniment by the orchestra’s woodwind players.”
—Dorothy Andries – Classical Music Critic, The Pioneer Press – Oct 19, 2006 (Soloist in an All-Mozart program with The Lake Forest Symphony)
” …the solid singing of soloists and chorus under the guidance of musical director Francesco Milioto made for a diverting evening, leaving listeners with a keener grasp of a beloved work during this Mozart-saturated year. Many of the vocal highlights came courtesy of Michelle Areyzaga, whose Pamina gleamed with vocal luster.”
—Michael Cameron – Chicago Tribune – August 11, 2006 (Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute)
“Areyzaga has never sounded better. If her smile was radiant, her voice was even more so. She soared easily through the Peri’s songs, while displaying a fine acting technique. (The Peri, who accompanies humans to paradise, longs to enter also, but is barred because of her parentage. The drama tells of her quest for the perfect gift to bring with her to the golden gate. She finds it in a tear from a repentant sinner.)”
—Dorothy Andries – The Pioneer Local – May 2006 (The Peri in Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri)
“Michelle Areyzaga’s touching portrayal of Zerlina went to the heart of peasant-girl innocence, shining especially in the famous duet, ‘La ci darem la mano’ and the aria, ‘Vedrai, carino.'”
—Michael Huebner – The Birmingham News – April 09, 2006 (Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni)
“The meat of the program was Britten’s ‘Les Illuminations,’ a vocal setting of poems by Arthur Rimbaud, sung with sensitivity by soprano Michelle Areyzaga.
“Areyzaga proved a fine interpreter of the work. Her burnished tone and nimble athleticism carried the day.“
—Michael Cameron – Special to the Chicago Tribune – Oct 10, 2005 (Les Illuminations)
“Michelle Areyzaga is one of Chicago’s top sopranos. Her technical skill and the colors she can produce are amazing, but best of all when she sings a song she has the knack of feeling every note and communicating it’s every emotional nuance to an audience.
“Listening to a concert by her makes music written by old masters seem fresh and new, and music by some of the superb living composers she often shows an interest in reveals them to be as expressive and beautiful as the work of old masters.”
—Robert Kameczura – Big Shoulder’s Magazine – May 12, 2005 (In Recital)
“At the center of the work was the highly praised Chicago soprano Michelle Areyzaga, whose rich and expressive voice was matched by her exceptional ease of movement as she served as a kind of go-between with the dancers in her midst.”
—Hedy Weiss – Chicago Sun Times – March 8, 2005 (Guest Vocalist with Luna Negra Dance Theater)
“Michelle is one terrific singer. She is admired for the purity and quality of her tone.”
—Welz Kauffman – Ravinia Music Festival – 2005
“The plaudits attending the début of lyric soprano Michelle Areyzaga were well deserved. The purity of her tone was exceptional and her stage manner outstanding. Her clear bell-like presentation was full-hearted and authentic. At times, especially when Areyzaga was singing in the lower register, the music seemed to embrace her and her voice became another instrument in the ensemble. It was enchanting.
“She gave us a fiery encore – the gypsy-like ‘Zaïde’ by Berlioz, clearly demonstrating why she is one of the busiest sopranos in the area.”
—Dorothy Andries, Music Critic – Pioneer Press – Oct 7, 2004 (Les Nuits d’été)
“Michelle Areyzaga’s Pamina would be a credit to any stage, completely luscious in sound, sensitively projected amid the Center’s good acoustics.”
—Richard Covello – Chicago Tribune – Feb 2, 2004
“The singing is sublime. Soprano Michelle Areyzaga, playing the princess, Pamina, has a lovely, lovely voice.”
—Leah A. Zelde – Lerner Newspapers Chicago – Jan 28, 2004
“Michelle Areyzaga, a bell-toned beauty from Chicago, filled in with only three days’ notice. She bonded readily with tenor David Ossenfort, singing American, French and Spanish songs; she tossed the tenor a rose in a seductive, Carmenesque song by Fernando Obradors.
“Areyzaga possess a supple responsive voice and charisma. Her stage presence never waned, her fluid movement and charming characterizations always capturing the audience’s attention.
“She was at her best in a song from Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and Meredith Wilson’s ‘Till There Was You’ from The Music Man.”
—Michael Huebner – The Birmingham News – Jan 26, 2003 (In Gala recital)
“The cast of performers were very talented, especially the extraordinary Michelle Areyzaga as Susanna…”
—Al Bresloff – La Raza – August 2002 (Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Chicago))
“Michelle Areyzaga, lyric soprano, selected three beautiful arias including ‘Je suis encore tout etourdie’ from Jules Massenet’s opera, Manon, ‘Rejoice Greatly O Daughter of Zion,’ from Händel’s Messiah, and ‘Juliet’s Lament,’ from Dr. Lee Hoiby’s unpublished opera, Romeo and Juliet. It was evident that her voice was really one of the most beautiful heard throughout the entire competition. Her warmth, color, nuance, and subtlety for the musical phrase were exceptional. There was no pushing or shoving to produce high notes like so many other singers heard throughout the competition. Here was a naturally beautiful voice capable of singing softly. Her vocal gifts included wonderfully executed trills and roulades. It will be interesting to follow this exciting young lyric soprano’s career through the years to come.”
—Dennis Ferrara – On The Town – April 2002 (The William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition)
“Playing Sophie, the younger sister of Charlotte, soprano Michelle Areyzaga sang with delicate grace, which allowed her character’s youthful innocence to emerge as an effective foil to her sister’s all-consuming passion.”
—Rohit Mahajan – The Weekend Edition Reporter/Progress – March 2002 (Sophie in Werther (Chicago))
” …There was also the pleasure of hearing impressive young voices. Of three solo singers, Michelle Areyzaga had the most demanding role, and carried it out with distinction… Areyzaga appeared in Menotti’s setting of “Muero Porque No Muero,” a prayerful poem by St. Teresa of Avila. Her affinity for Spanish culture is clear, and this poem is Catholic Spain distilled. Most of this long poem is the solo voice pouring out emotions – a complex of them including love, grief, frustration and joy. Areyzaga’s voice is full and live; it seems to leap out of her throat of its own volition, and all she has to do is shade it expressively – which she does.”
—Dan Tucker – Metro Mix, Chicago – February 2001 (Concert Soloist in Menotti’s Muero Porque No Muero)
“For Chicago music lovers, one of the most valuable gifts from the William Ferris Chorale over the past 30 years has been its annual concert focusing on contemporary composers.
The chorale’s customary warm, big sound filled the church … soprano Michelle Areyzaga in Menotti’s ecstatic Muero Porque No Muero cut through the space with laser-like power. Areyzaga has just the right voice to soar ahead of the sensitively blended choir, trumpet, percussion, organs and piano in Menotti’s Muero. Passionate and bright as a flame, it served as a focal point for Menotti’s faintly Spanish rhythms and melodies that rose and fell like waves in a heavy sea.”
—Wynne Delacoma, Classical Music Critic – The Sun-Times – Feb 26, 2001
Areyaga-Shaak Concert Displays Vocal Charms of Spain, America
“You might guess from her name that soprano Michelle Areyzaga would have an affinity for Spanish music. The guess would be right, but hardly adequate. In her recital titled “Songs of Spain and America,” Areyzaga clearly reveled in the songs of four Spanish composers. She not only sang them well but seemed to embrace them, words and music. Not that she is limited to Spain; half the concert was devoted to 20th Century American composers. All ten of these songs showed musical imagination, charm and personality–which are also specialties of this singer–and made you want to hear more from the composers.
“Areyzaga’s full, bright voice, expressive face and gestures, and nuanced phrasing made the most of it — And pianist Jamie Shaak’s finely textured playing was a pleasure to hear.”
—Dan Tucker, classical music critic – Chicago tribune, Nov 15, 2000 (Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Soloist)
“Casilda, deftly acted and beautifully sung by soprano Michelle Areyzaga.”
—Dorothy Andries – Pioneer Press – June 2000 (Casilda in The Gondoliers- Light Opera Works)
“…soprano Michelle Areyzaga releases a beautifully simple rendition of ‘O Mio Babbino Caro,’ and the nearly full house goes wild.”
—Chris Davis – April 19, 2000 (Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi – Chicago Opera Theatre)
“Michelle Areyzaga is sensational in Lauretta’s signature aria…”
—Ted Shen – Chicago Reader – April 2000(Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi – Chicago Opera Theatre)
“Michelle Areyzaga gave a sweet, limpid accounting of Lauretta’s aria.”
—John von Rhein – Chicago Tribune – March 2000 (Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi – Chicago Opera Theatre)
“Michelle Areyzaga’s double assignment as the Sandman and the Dew Fairy fell gratefully on the ear.”
—John von Rhein – Opera News – March 1999 (Sandman and the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel- Chicago Opera Theatre)
“Michelle Areyzaga made a stunning début as the Girl, with a beautiful pianissmo in the upper range.”
—William Shackelford – Opera Magazine, London – September 1998 (Girl in V. Ullmann’s Der Emperor von Atlantis- Chicago Opera Theatre)