If one can say this about a veteran performer, a star was born Friday night at the Met, as soprano Aleksandra Kurzak ruled the stage for three hours as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata. Aleksandra Kurzak
has appeared [at The Metropolitan Opera
] in half a dozen lyric roles over the past decade and a half, winning admiration for her exceptionally full, creamy tone, vocal agility, and sensitive expression. But to carry the show in what is essentially a three-person drama revolving around her character, experiencing the highest of giddy highs and the darkest of despairing lows, is one of the great challenges in the opera repertoire. Aleksandra Kurzak
met it with sparkling coloratura in Act I and deeply affecting phrasing as her character’s fortunes and health declined. High range or low, in aching pianissimo or passionate forte, her voice filled the Met’s vast space without a hint of strain. One could, literally, listen to her sing for hours. - David Wright for New York Classical Review
In the first act the soprano ran in with a bright smile and loads of energy. Her singing was filled with vocal fireworks and precise coloratura as well as a lighter timbre that emphasized the jovial aspects of the scene. Physically she was also quite active twirling around the stage and dancing freely. But even so, Kurzak did make it clear from her entrance that this was an ill Violetta, giving the character a slight cough that she ignored quickly.
In her first scenes with Alfredo her interactions were flirtatious, but once she got to the duet, she was overcome with so much emotion. The joy she felt once he left was emphasized in her rendition of “Ah forse lui.” The aria was sung with a fluid legato line that floated with gorgeous sound. Kurzak held out the phrases with precision and connected them with elegance and ardor. One could see that her Violetta had just fallen head over heels for Alfredo.
Yet as she ended the aria and went into the recitative “Follie, follie,” she sang them with assertion and conviction. That was emphasized in her “Sempre Libera” which was a tour de force. When she started the cabaletta she sang the coloratura with brightness as she twirled around the stage with a champagne glass emphasizing, she was a free woman, the text sung with an assertive quality.
But in the repetition after hearing Alfredo, Kurzak’s voice darkened and the voice obtained a weighty quality. That passion returned and while she still sang with precise coloratura, it was clear Kurzak was fighting Alfredo’s call. This time she gave slight accents to the dynamics and text and the “Sempre libera” seemed a bit forced. She threw her glass forcibly and her twirls didn’t seem as organic. One could feel this was a Violetta with conflicting thoughts. Kurzak beautifully conveyed that as she sang this cabaletta with such virtuosic power and topped it off with a rousing E Flat.
In Act 3 Kurzak continued to transform her voice, obtaining a grittier timbre. It was all about the crudeness of the moment as in this act Verdi gives the soprano many moments to emote which Kurzak relished. One instance came as she read her letter. She began reading with a soft tone that slightly crescendoed and obtained a nervousness that eventually ended in her shouting “È tardi!” with pain and terror. That was followed by a heartbreaking “Addio del passato.” The lines swelled with immaculate breath-control and one sensed that Kurzak was holding each phrase as long as she could.
The voice continuously grew and the “Ah, della traviata sorridi al desio” soared with intensity. As the aria ended, the repeated “Tutto” were given slight pauses and staccato phrasing; when she sang the final “finì!,” she held out the note as long as she could, even though it slowly started losing brightness and accuracy of pitch. It was effective nonetheless, a visceral expression of Violetta losing her breath.
It must be noted that during this scene Kurzak’s Violetta seemed to be aware her impending death and consequently unlike most sopranos whose voices glow and brighten in “Parigi o caro” and “ora son forte,” Kurzak chose to maintain that grittiness and darkness in her sound. That was all the more emphasized in the lines “A niuno in terra salvarmi è dato,” which she emoted with potency before going on to sing “Gran Dio! morir sì giovane” with contrasting dynamics; the opening two lines were given an accented forte that was then brought down to a piano. That fear of death became most poignant during these phrases.
All in all this was Kurzak's night and she sparkled in it. - Francisco Salazar for Operawire
...the revival of Michael Mayer’s 2018 production of La traviata got off to a rousing start with Aleksandra Kurzak’s note- and pitch-perfect “Sempre libera” which brought down the house at the end of Act 1.
At the center of the evening’s success was Ms Kurzak, who gave one of the best interpretations of the tragic heroine Violetta in recent memory. Her rich and warm voice is the best fit for the role’s vocal demands of Act 2 including Violetta’s impassioned love duet with her lover Alfredo and later her heartbreaking encounter with his father Germont. Ms Kurzak’s dramatic singing encompassed a range of emotions from joy, bewilderment, anger and sorrow with such technical dazzle and emotional roller-coaster that she was utterly gripping on stage. Her effective use of rubato added further excitement, while her judicious sprinkling of pianissimo phrases was breathtaking... - Ako Imamur for Bachtrack
The “Traviata” on Friday, a Michael Mayer production, starred Aleksandra Kurzak as Violetta, a gracious courtesan dying of consumption and in love with young Alfredo... She is a deeply expressive singer with an alluring voice who brought moments of luminous beauty, shimmering high notes and raw intensity to her Violetta... The mix of fervor and vulnerability drew you in. The audience responded with an enormous ovation! - Anthony Tommasini for The New York Times
FLAWLESS! Astonishing performance from Aleksandra Kurzak, whose Violetta was an incontrovertible triumph.
Indeed, Kurzak is about as close as you can get to a perfect Violetta...
breathtaking middle register, a dark, weighty voice, utterly ravishing – pianissimos at the very top of her range...
Her performance was once larger than life and heartbreakingly real. In a performance that was so uniformly excellent, it is difficult to pick out highlights. Kurzak’s “Ah fors’è lui… Sempre libera”, however, was a tour de force: the cantabile was poised and elegant, phrased in broad, lyrical arcs; the intervening recitative included some of the most thrilling coloratura of the evening (the runs on “gioir” were understated but impeccably executed, a treat for the ears); and the cabaletta was absolutely electric, brighter and more muscular in tone, alternating between an assertive chest voice and sparkling coloratura.
Kurzak ended the aria on the high Eb, which was sustained with a gripping delicacy. Kurzak almost outdid this performance, however, with a heart-in-the-mouth rendition of “Addio, del passato” in Act III: here, Kurzak’s Violetta seemed defiant in the face of death, her “della traviata sorridi” surging with passion and warmth... - Callum John Blackmore for parterre.com