When the Metropolitan Opera’s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Angela Meade starred in the company’s recent production of Ernani, she gave “a true star-making Met performance” (WQXR) that “showed what this uncommonly gifted rising artist is capable of” (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times). In May the soprano tackles another Verdi heroine, making her Deutsche Oper Berlin debut as Lucrezia in two concert performances of I due Foscari. More high-profile “firsts” follow in August when Meade makes a trio of major U.S. music festival debuts, headlining “A Night at the Opera” with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival; “Italian Opera Night” with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin at Saratoga, and Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” with Robert Spano in Aspen. In June – as a preview of next season’s debut with Washington National Opera – she portrays the title role of Bellini’s Norma in concert at Oregon’s Astoria Music Festival, and in July she sings Leonora in Verdi’s Il trovatore at the Festival Castell de Peralada in Spain. As the New York Daily News recently remarked, this gifted young soprano is truly “on the fast track to stardom.”
For her debut with Berlin’s historic Deutsche Oper, Meade sings her first Lucrezia Contarini, the female lead in Verdi’s I due Foscari, opposite baritone and noted Verdi specialist Leo Nucci and tenor Ramón Vargas, as father and son. Vargas, whose numerous honors include Echo Klassik’s Singer of the Year, was one of the many luminaries of opera who performed alongside Meade at last season’s Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala, at which she received the prestigious 2011 Richard Tucker Award. With La Scala regular Maestro Roberto Rizzi Brignoli on the podium, the two Deutsche Oper concert performances mark the company’s premiere presentation of Verdi’s opera (May 9 & 11).
It is a measure of Meade’s burgeoning success that she makes not one but three major festival debuts in a single month this summer. The first, on August 5, is with the Cleveland Orchestra and guest conductor Johannes Debus, music director of the Canadian Opera Company, at the Blossom Music Festival. There, for “A Night at the Opera” – a program featuring favorite arias by Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti – Meade joins tenor Michael Fabiano. Both singers were Grand Prize winners at the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as chronicled in the documentary film The Audition, and they subsequently co-starred in Lucia di Lammermoor at their alma mater, the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
On August 9, for her debut at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Meade reunites with another AVA alumnus, tenor and Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition-winner Bryan Hymel. With the Philadelphia Orchestra under music director designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin, they will perform an “Italian Opera Night” of arias and duets by Rossini, Donizetti, Puccini, Verdi, Mascagni, and Cilea, crowned by the final duet from Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.
On August 19, Meade makes her third festival debut of the month, as a soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) at the Aspen Music Festival. Six-time Grammy Award-winner Robert Spano, in his inaugural season as the festival’s music director, conducts the Aspen Festival Orchestra and Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Meade leads a stellar lineup of vocal soloists that includes mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, with whom she performed Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony at the Seattle Symphony last season. The two were singled out by the Seattle Times, which commented on their “warmly expressive” voices.