Nedda in PAGLIACCI - Metropolitan Opera, New York, January 2018

Alagna and Kurzak make Met’s devastating “Pagliacci” a night to remember.

Eric C. Simpson - New York Classical Review

In Pagliacci, Aleksandra Kurzak’s Nedda was a fierce, doomed character and she sang and acted up a storm.

Bachtrack - Robert Levine

Ms. Kurzak sang a memorable Nedda, delivering the last lines of her high-flying "Stridono lassu" from a prone position. Her searing scene with George Gagnidze's Tonio presaged the intensity of the second act of Tosca, and a long and ardent duet with Silvio (baritone Allesio Arduini) provided that fine singer with a welcome opportunity.

Superconductor Classical Opera - Paul J. Pelkonen

As much as Roberto Alagna’s work was marvelous, his two leading ladies demonstrated why they need to be at the Metropolitan Opera much more than they have been. As Nedda, Aleksandra Kurzak was coquettish, youthful, sensual, and commanding. But this was also a Nedda seeking freedom. From the beginning, Kurzak dominated the stage dancing and flirting with choristers and it was evident that she relished each moment. Then in her showstopping “Qual fiamma avea nel guardo” Kurzak allowed audiences to see the different facets of Nedda. Her opening lines were sung with a nostalgic feel extending the lines but soon after one saw the sensual side with “Io son piena di vita” as she lay on the ground singing, emphasizing the text and lifting her skirt. And then she showed off Nedda’s youthfulness with clean trills and coloratura. 

In “Stridono lassu” she moved about the stage almost as if she was telling a story to the audience. The vocal line obtained a light texture that would differ from the end of the work. By the end of the aria, Kurzak twirled around the stage holding her high B Flat making for an incredible virtuoso moment.

During her subsequent encounter with Tonio, Kurzak maintained that coquettish persona but it was only after Tonio attempts to rape her that Kurzak’s Nedda obtained a tragic character. As Kurzak crawled on stage trying to defend herself from George Gagnidze’s Tonio, her Silvio Alessio Arduini walked in. Kurzak’s Nedda didn’t immediately receive him with tenderness or love. This was now a fearful woman. 

As she sang the line “Non Abusar di me,” Kurzak sang with intensity and to the extremes of her voice. It was not until the final parts of the duet that Kurzak let her guard down, giving the final lines a rich and seductive pianissimo sound.

During the second scene, Kurzak relished in the comedy dancing to the production’s choreography and giving her Colombina a girlish tone. She joked with the play’s supers and showed an air of confidence. Even when Alagna’s Canio grabbed by the neck, Kurzak was defiant. In her lines “No, per mia Madre,” Kurzak sang with her full voice, emoting on some of her lines and equaling Alagna’s violent outcries."

Francisco Salazar - Operawire.

The Pagliacci has been the stronger partner in every iteration of the McVicar production, but in the Monday showing it reached new heights. The cast, working under the revival stage director Louisa Miller, gave a taut, gripping rendition of the piece that ranks among the most emotionally devastating performances I have ever seen at the Met.

Aleksandra Kurzak and Roberto Alagna are partners offstage as well as on, and there is a clear, natural chemistry between them. Her Nedda, though, is a striking creation all its own, a remarkably sensual reading of a role that is often played too quietly. She twirls around, dances with feather fans, and strikes poses on the hood of the company truck in the opening scene as though she’s the traveling troupe’s pinup model. 

“Stridono lassu” found her dancing about the set, reveling in her youth and nimbly navigating the birdsong figures with her penetrating soprano; her sultry reading of the scene before could have come right out of Carmen. Crucial to her success in the role is the relish with which she throws herself into the play of the second act, as though she’d been born to be a vaudeville star, rather than a singer. Her total engagement in the clowning makes the stark juxtaposition of comedic and tragic elements land with shattering force.

Newyorkclassicalreview - Eric C. Simpson