Selected Reviews

“Mr. Scott, with Jessica Gould, the soprano, and Jennifer Lane, the mezzo-soprano, performed these sections with a dramatic intensity that honored the texts… The program also demonstrated Pergolesi’s flexibility, evident in the two very different approaches he took to the Salve Regina. The first, in F minor, is darkly melancholy, with a lyrical undercurrent that Ms. Lane projected beautifully. The second, in A minor, is the opposite: florid lyricism dominates, but mournful contrition, captured in Pergolesi’s chromaticism, lurks just beneath the surface. Ms. Gould projected that uneasy combination of qualities ably."

Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

“Impeccably curated early-music performances in intimate historical venues”

Sarah Hucal, Time Out New York

“The program, which lasted just over 90 minutes, including long pauses for retuning, had a pleasing symmetry. It began and ended with pairs of opera arias by Handel: prime territory for Mr. Costanzo, a charismatic singer much in demand, whose abundant technical skills are matched to dramatic resources already impressive and steadily growing. Mr. Brookshire was an alert, stylish partner in these and in a penetrating set of Purcell songs; alone, he dazzled in Bach’sChromatic Fantasy and Fugue (BWV 903) and in three brilliantly characterized sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti. For the program’s centerpiece, Vivaldi’s cantata Qual per Ignoto Calle (“By Unknown Streets”), the harpsichord was moved aside to provide a clear patch of floor. As choreographed by Troy Schumacher Mr. Angle stalked, stretched and spun around Mr. Costanzo. Gently intermingling eros and agape, Mr. Angle lifted and carried Mr. Costanzo and encircled him in Pietà-like embraces. The mix of intimacy and vulnerability in the choreography and in its enactment, abetted by Mr. Brookshire’s exacting musical dramaturgy, suited the cantata’s amorous anguish elegantly.”

Steve Smith, The New York Times

"The voices are divine and the intimate space of Brotherhood Synagogue made this an extra special treat....We followed Ester's arc from fear to courage via Jessica Gould's masterful performance...Salon Sanctuary presents the most elegant entertainments available in NYC. Don't miss their future efforts."

– Mark Savitt, HiDrama

"But rather than an evening of look-at-me virtuosity, blandly pleasant music-making, or ‘how cool is my instrument’ early music buzz, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, as usual, went the extra mile, presenting something that was a feat of both musical and curatorial skill, the kind of program that is so multi-layered and thought provoking that one remains in post-concert contemplation or heated conversation for hours afterward...The Québecois Valois is an exceptionally fine soloist who plays with a romantic temperament, coaxing many colors from a small instrument and shaping his phrases with such skill that one hears a whole narrative in his wordless playing. He plays with dimension, passion, and elegance, and is a pleasure to hear in a world full of so many flawless but soulless technicians....Gould’s approach to the operatic repertoire on this program was anchored in the drama of the texts and a keen sense of style and ornamentation, which, sustained by the natural beauty of her voice, enabled this highly dramatic repertoire to blossom in an intimate space. Negotiating both Rossini’s melismas and Halévy’s dramatic flashes with ease, I found her performance, particularly of Desdemona’s aria ‘Assisa a pié d’un salice’, deeply moving."

– Chris Petitt, Seen and Heard International

"Pisani's robust, dark, sizable, easily produced tenor is closer to the sound we associate with nineteenth-century romantic opera than with Early Music (soi-disant)...He brings resonance, clarity and ideal diction to the table...What made Pisani's interpretations particularly interesting was the style of ornament. We know that the goat-trill from Early Music performances of Monteverdi's opera, but Pisani made little use of it. He was more inclined to swell a meaningful word to give poignance to a line or a figure of speech...He exults when he invokes the goddess of music, "Odi, Eurterpe, il dolce canto," but then, he's earned the right to do so. So did Caccini."

John Yohalem, Parterre Box

“Few people know about the art world’s multicultural debt more than Jessica Gould, the Artistic Director and Founder of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts…so much of what Salon/Sanctuary does is to take old repertoire, very old repertoire, and to recontexualize it, to put it in a new light.”

– Jake Romm, The Forward

"This is the sort of coup in which Salon/Sanctuary Concerts excels – beautiful, intimate evenings of early music in spaces such as this, spaces you may never have known were right next door, and which are so perfect for the music that you are left wondering how you could ever hear this repertoire anywhere else. Under the direction of intrepid Artistic Director and soprano Jessica Gould, the series seems to go from strength to strength, and it is always a pleasure to let go of your preconceptions and see where Gould will lead you next with her venue choices and inventive programming....Pisani’s baritonal tenor is refreshingly full, resounding, and well supported, with an easy command of rapid-fire coloratura that sometimes eludes larger voices. His flawless diction (I am speaking here as a non-Italian, mind you), is not merely one element of a technical checklist that he has mastered through study, but an actor’s tool that he wields deftly in order to extract maximum meaning from every word and create a dramatic world for each song. An impressively sustained messa di voce towards the end of the program was icing on the cake, a clever touch in the song "Odi Euterpe"(Hear, Euterpe), whose text implores the Muse of Music to listen in....At 29, he is clearly a singer to watch and his colleagues were no less engaging. Ensemble Ricercare Antico, a small group of Florentine and Roman virtuosi, offered elegant and stylish support. Punctuating the tenor’s inflections was resonant and intentioned bass from Francesco Tomasi’s and Giovanni Bellini’s theorbo and archlute, while Serena Bellini’s recorder obbligato was a deft and charming complement is a few lighter pieces.  A baroque guitar, played fleetly by Tomasi, added a more percussive color contrast, and the tight ensemble, which includes Matteo Coticoni on violone, did as much painting as the soloist, responding spontaneously with his every shift of expression. A glimpse every now and then of the faces of the players showed them to be as dramatically tuned in as the singer."

Chris Petitt, Voce di Meche

"Gould is not only a talented singer: she’s also one of New York’s great impresarios, and the driving force behind the innovative and popular Salon/Sanctuary concert series,The opening number, Gelosia by Luigi Rossi, features Gould delivering spiraling and shivering intensity around an elegantly propulsive baroque backdrop supplied by chitarrone player Diego Cantalupi and harpsichordist Davide Pozzi. Gould’s voice is very distinctive, with a starkly cutting edge: she is clearly here to leave a mark rather than to trill off in any kind of generically balmy way. Violinists Diego Castelli and Dario Palmisano pulse in with an almost otherworldly swoop in a hauntingly waltzing passage from Pietro Francesco Cavalli’s Calisto, Gould echoing that magic with Restino Imbalsamate, her achingly incisive aria afterward. The rest of the album’s nineteen tracks comprise an eclectic mix. There’s a lilting folk dance along with more stately themes by Giovanni Battista Lulli (birth name of the Florentine-turned-Parisian Jean Baptiste Lully); Gould’s dexterous take of Sdegno, campion audace, a rapid-fire Virgilio Mazocchi miniature; the bravura final movement from Giacomo Carissimi’s Apritevi Inferni glistening with melismatic sparkle; and considerable material from Rossi’s 1647 opera Orfeo. Counter-Reformation conspiracies, hubris and tragedy sit side by side with a dynamically shifting sweep and Gould’s electrifying voice."

Musicweb International

 

I have seen less aware singers perform this repertoire in a nondescript wash of restrained affect and monochromatic color, as if the very act of feeling and communicating anything would break some kind of precious glass vitrine. The reward of hearing and watching a singer like Riccardo Pisani is to feel that you understand the words yourself because of the color and contrast he deploys in the service of the text, and that you are being led into a new and gripping story with every song.

"Giacomo Carissimi’s "Apritevi Inferni" was the show stopper, literally and figuratively. This monologue for a penitent sinner opens with two-octave leaps and finishes off with hair-raising runs of coloratura passagework that go in every direction imaginable, including several repeated high C’s. Clearly a product of the Counter-Reformation propaganda machine, it expresses the church’s goal of restoring order to a world threatened by chaos-producing rebellion. 

 

I’ve never heard this specific piece sung before by anyone, probably because so few can, but in my experience with something like this, a singer either executes this kind of passagework with consummate ease or undermines the whole thing with even the slightest hint of technical struggle. Gould is master of it. 

 

The apocalyptic dramatic expression she and her colleagues brought to the performance was as shocking and delightful as the precision and command of possibly the most demanding melismas I have ever heard in a baroque vocal work ever. Kudos to the superb basso continuo team Cantalupi and Pozzi for opening up the very gates of hell itself with a muscular earthquake of an introduction on instruments that are often (mis)perceived as precious and delicate."

Chris Petitt, Voce di Meche

“The delicacy of Cantalupi’s playing and Jessica’s melancholy singing create alternating waves of shimmer and shadow, to haunting effect. It’s a lovely album….Barbara Strozzi — a rare woman composer in the seventeenth century — afforded each singer a welcome showcase, with Jessica locating a startling combination of pleading and ecstasy in the final notes of “Salve Regina,” and Biscuola making an entire opera out of the lament “Lagrime mie.”

Bill Madison, Billévesées

"Ms. Gould does not adhere to the rigid customs of Baroque period singing.  Of course, we have no record of how these works sounded four centuries ago, but contemporary performances often seem sterile, whereas Ms. Gould's performance was luscious and involving. It was always obvious that she knew what she was singing about as she shared her passion with the audience."

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

“Intricate polyrhythms, sparkling unison passages, and dizzying improvisations coalesced into a sequence of fascinating pieces with a variety of moods but a continuously vigorous spirit…Brian Prunka is a most impressive oud player…Most impressive of all to me, surprisingly, was Simon Moushabeck’s exquisite timing and sonic variety on a small percussion instrument resembling a tambourine. He made the humble-looking device speak with uncanny eloquence.“

Jon Sobel, Blogcritics

“another triumph for Artistic Director/singer/impresario/scholar Jessica Gould to have assembled a superlative group of musicians to illustrate a fascinating period in European history. … we were absolutely thrilled by Sei Ariette, composed by Domenico Maria Puccini, grandfather of Giacomo…Ms. Gould brought the songs to vivid life, accompanied by the guitar of master lutenist Diego Cantalupi. They have never been performed in the USA and we felt privileged to hear them.The instrumental part of the evening was no less satisfying. Mr. Hammer gave a moving performance of Jan Ladislav Dussek's The Sufferings of the Queen of France, op. 23, a programmatic piece in which Marie Antoinette's anguish seemed most intense in the part where she is separated from her children. The part in which Mr. Hammer's expressive playing limned the "savage tumult of the rabble" was very effective, but the sound of the guillotine dropping was shocking….We heard a lovely Serenade for clarinet and guitar, op.22 by the Viennese Benigne Henry in which the "Rondeau" had a lovely lilting and recurrent theme. Mr. Hoeprich and Mr. Cantalupi seemed destined to love making music together…Similarly, Mr. Hammer and Mr. Cantalupi didn't miss their chance to enjoy making music together with a delightful tidbit that was not on the program--two rondos by the Barese composer Mauro Giuliani, little known but much enjoyed…Mr. Hammer was joined by Mr. Hoeprich for Carl Maria von Weber's Silvana Variations, op. 33, a highly melodic work that was filled with invention...And finally, Johann Kaspar Mertz' Nocturne op. 4, no. 1 received a meditative and soulful performance from Mr. Cantalupi….We very much enjoyed hearing music that was new to us and hearing such gifted artists in varying combinations…Those familiar with Salon/Sanctuary Concerts know that one can always expect to discover something new and fulfilling!”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Mr. Haun's sweet tenor was accompanied by Corina Marti's prodigious skills on the recorder and clavisymbalum (a table-top precursor to the harpsichord) and Ayelet Karni's wizardry on the recorder, and tabor, a drum worn around the neck. These three musician/scholars are all connected with the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and came from Basel to share their musical discoveries and talents with us. We will likely never get to read their scholarly dissertations but, on an experiential level, we can say that we were utterly transported back nearly a millenium.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Leave it to Salon/Sanctuary Concerts to come up with a highly unusual evening that was both entertaining and illuminating.…the fact that Shylock and his daughter Jessica were both cast with Afro-American actors added greatly to our insight into Shakespeare's treatment of "the outsider". We left deep in thought about the way our society treats "the other", making this work particularly relevant at this time….Kate Grimes made a wonderfully believable Portia…Ms. Gould's soprano harmonized beautifully with the countertenor of Nicholas Tamagna.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

“The 1890 Playel instrument from Klavierhaus looked as beautiful as it sounded, its tone soft and gentle, perfectly suited for the French program...Ms. Ringle has a true mezzo sound, unlike many singers who claim that fach.  It has a distinctive timbre that filled the auditorium of the Abigail Adams Smith House. Ms. Ringle's French is flawless and her phrasing high in musicality…Mr. Merrill's piano was noticeably wonderful in many of the songs. We could hear the village bell's sonority in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Ma barque légère, the nightingale in Fromental Halévy's Les heures du soir, and the wind in the same composer's Le follet.  No doubt the special sound of the Pleyel contributed to the effect.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“LeStrange Viols are six superb musicians who play the treble, tenor, and bass members of the viola da gamba (or viol) family… Speedy ensemble work made a Chaconne by Englishman John Blow in the 17th-century French style (internationalism again) sound easy.”

Jon Sobel, Blogcritics

 

“A rich dark timbre shared by both singers allowed them to blend very attractively. With somewhat larger voices than what one expects from the typical “early music” singer, both soprano and contralto summoned power without force when demanded by the texts. Yet both also negotiated melismatic passages with precision and ease, always an admirable skill in a more sizable instrument. Two songs by the Jewish-Italian composer Salamone Rossi received performances of rhetorical clarity and attractive color, and the two Strozzi numbers allowed both Gould and Frenkel to unpack their sound in dramatically compelling performances. The Salve Regina was particularly striking, not just because it is so rarely heard, but for all its bizarre chromatic twist and turns and extreme demands of a singer’s range. Gould used her voice expressively and ably, delivering an emotionally affecting performance that seemed to wring dramatic meaning from every note.”

Alexandra Simon, Seen and Heard International

“The music came from Western Africa with Yoruba songs, Igbo Songs, and one Liberian song--Liberia being the birthplace of the singer Dawn Padmore who sings with a generosity of spirit and lovely tone…Although we did not accept the invitation to get up and dance, we were surely dancing on the inside!”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Waldo got the night off to a strong start with a nuanced, richly ambered take of the Suite for Solo Cello in G Major, BWV 1007…Playing from memory, eyes closed, Waldo let the music breathe while he stayed true to the composer’s steady, circling pace…The centerpiece of the show was Brookshire’s breathtaking performance of the lightning volleys of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 903. It’s rare enough to hear on harpsichord rather than piano or church organ, rarer still to hear the instrument whir, and resonate, and sing as Brookshire made it do. There’s a diabolical character to a lot of it, and although Brookshire barely broke a smile, it was obvious that he was savoring its searing cascades, ripples and charges up and down the keys.”

Alan Young, Lucid Culture

 

“Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera rose to the occasion and filled the venue with color and excitement….Her superb instrument and technique (influenced by Marilyn Horne and Frederica von Stade) is more legato than that of most bel canto artists.  Her diction sacrificed not a single word on the altar of musicality.  Variety in dynamics and tempi contributed to the sense of drama….A compelling performance of Mi lagnerò tacendo was fascinating in that Rossini set the work four times--for soprano, mezzo, contralto, and finally a version to be sung on  one note.  Ms. Rivera showed strength in the lower register when called for and brilliance on top where necessary.  In fact, her voice is remarkably centered throughout the entire range…Mr. Merrill's accompanying skills are legendary and it was easy to see why he is chosen by so many fine singers.  He was always right there supporting but never overshadowing or overwhelming.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

“The Passover, of course, commemorates the ancient Hebrews’ deliverance from slavery, and Erica Gould and Jessica Gould’s program weaves the parallel stories smartly together. Rev. Elkanah Kelsey Dare’s shape-note hymn “Babylonian Captivity,” dating from the early 1800s, made the same connection earlier in the program…Known for its eclectic repertoire, the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble lived up to its longstanding reputation with a variety of songs beautifully arranged and sung…Salon/Sanctuary's smartly constructed and affecting presentation of Exodus: Dreams of the Promised Land in Antebellum America...built to some crescendos worthy of a Broadway stage.”

Jon Sobel, Blogcritics

 

“This fascinating tale was told in a script constructed by Erica Gould from the letters and writings of the two lovers.  Jessica Gould was responsible for the concept and the curation of the music which she sang along with tenor Tony Boutté.  Antonio Sacchini's opera Dardanus provided both instrumental excerpts and some passionate arias, with further musical contributions from Jacques Duphly played by Elliot Figg on the harpsichord and from Archangelo Corelli, played on the violin by Tatiana Daubek. Famed actress Melissa Ericco was completely convincing as Cosway and also sang quite beautifully a sad lament of longing Ogni dolce aura which Cosway composed expressly for Jefferson. Royal Shakespeare Company actor Jonathan Cake cut a fine figure as Jefferson. Each narrated and read from the letters with additional narration provided by Christen Clifford”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Distinguished harpsichordist Andrew Appel contributed both to the atmosphere and to the drama with musical “cues” representing ideas and people under discussion (Voltaire, the composer Rameau), and treated us to a couple of keyboard works by Rameau in their entirety. The harpsichord had a beautiful tone and Appel entered fully into the playful spirit of the enterprise without saying a word…There are countless concerts in New York City every week, but no one else does what Salon/Sanctuary does, and we’re lucky to have them.”

Jon Sobel, Blogcritics

 

“The texts were read by the impressively thunder-voiced actor Reg E. Cathey, Rosalyn Coleman Williams and Jennifer Rau. So many sad stories were read that it was difficult to stay dry-eyed.“

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“In a season with all hits and no misses, Salon Sanctuary Concerts has presented another stimulating evening that was both entertaining and educational…Ms. Pillow sang with vibrancy and an enviable variety of color, tempo and dynamics, making each song touching to the heart.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Weiss’s humanistic perspective is in keeping with the broad aims of the admirable organization that presented it, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, founded in 2009 by Jessica Gould…Kenneth Weiss’ playing of the preludes and fugues was restrained and monumental, but nonetheless replete with intellectual insights and intimate moments of feeling, in keeping with the public and private aspects of that particular performative act. ..As the opportunity for Mr. Weiss’s fellow New Yorkers to hear his traversal of the Second Book in the wake of his landmark performances of Bach’s keyboard works, this concert was as important as any that has been heard this season.”

Michael Miller, New York Arts

 

“The perfection of I Profeti’s intonation and ensemble was a joy to listen to in itself, not to mention the most persuasive vehicle this relatively little-known music could have. In addition to their virtues as an ensemble, each member has a vocal and musical character of his own, and their solo work was fully engaging. And they seem to be able to charm any audience.”

Michael Miller, New York Arts

 

“Making their U.S. debut, Profeti della Quinta were as captivating in person as they had been on screen. The printed programs included text-and-translation, but it was hardly needed. They conveyed the meaning of the poetry with their diction, intention, and phrasing, commanding constant attention with their passionate and emotional music-making. … The five singers of Profeti are all formidable, but the group boasts a countertenor of rare technique and artistry in Doron Schleifer. There is nothing gawky or unnatural in his sound—his voice rings clear and flows freely. When he needed to turn up the emotional intensity, he did so without the slightest vocal blemish. One of the high points of the afternoon was his poignant and plaintive solo, Cor mio, deh, non languire, delivered with supple phrasing….As an ensemble, they sang with excellent intonation and moved as a unit, musically. Their bright sound breathed life into Rossi’s music, and they were accompanied admirably on the theorbo by Ori Harmelin, also a regular member of the group. Harmelin displayed both grace and virtuosity in a somber Passacaglia by Alessandro Piccinini (1566-ca. 1638)."

Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review

 

“In an exemplary show of scholarship, engravings from the 17th c. were studied to replicate the stances of sword fighting, illustrated by sword fighters Jacqueline Ann Holloway and Robert Westley.  Analogous ballet moves were illustrated by two ballet dancers from New York City Ballet--the lovely long-limbed Megan LeCrone, partnered to perfection by Jared Angle. The two pairs danced side by side and comparisons were easily made…At one point, different meters and keys were played simultaneously, a challenging task for the musicians who rose to the occasion.  It was here that we observed the intense eye contact between both members of each couple and the compelling mirroring between the two couples. The effectiveness of the illumination was our subsequent ability to watch ballet and see many of the moves in a new light.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“To the best of my recollection, this was the first time I’d heard either singer, and both in solos and duets, they proved delightful. There’s a distinct nap to the plush velvet of Gould’s soprano. Its texture is soft, caressing, and beautifully matched to the similar qualities of Lemos’ voice, which moves seamlessly from soprano to “man voice” (as a certain Polish contralto might call it) and back again…Gould and Lemos blended so exquisitely that one really wished the old boy had written even more such numbers…As actors, Gould and Lemos had a high time incarnating the sheer nastiness (and some nobler qualities, too) of the characters, and they were abetted by actors Steven Rattazzi, expertly handling the passages from Suetonius; and Judith Hawking, an aptly regal Clytemnestra…Jessica Gould’s sister, Erica, collaborated on the concept, constructed the script, and staged the performance, making excellent use of the space as she moved the actors around the ballroom; dramatic spotlighting kept the audience’s focus where she wanted it…The result was a pleasingly mathematical elegance in a swift-moving performance, without overstatement or extraneity. We got exactly what we needed, no more and no less, in order to understand and to admire.”

Bill Madison, Billevesées

“Gould defied expectations, and her annual concerts…are among the hottest tickets in town. Part of what I admire is Gould’s moxie: rather than wait for somebody else to produce the concerts she wants to sing — or hear — she makes them happen.”

Bill Madison, Billévesées

 

“the audience was treated to an operatic episode of I, Claudius – gruesome yet amusing at the same time… Ottone’s opening aria E pur io torno was rendered by countertenor José Lemos in a shaded and expressive interpretation that went from hope and comfort to despair and emptiness within minutes. Jessica Gould’s canorous voice comfortably negotiated the jaunty runs of the aria Non ho cor che per amarti. Monteverdi’s Pur ti miro was sung meltingly by the duet… A great deal of time and thought must have been spent on this production. Hopefully it will be staged again and for a longer period than one night.”

Stan Metzger, Seen and Heard International

“One can always count on Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, helmed by Jessica Gould, to provide unusual and innovative programming.  The 2013-2013 season got off to a dazzling start last night featuring our favorite American counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, New York City ballet danceur noble Jared Angle and fleet-fingered harpsichordist Bradley Brookshire… Mr. Costanzo exhibited all the qualities we want to hear when we listen to the Baroque repertory--tonal beauty, precision of fioritura, daring embellishments, and intense involvement with the music. … Mr. Brookshire's accompaniment was flawless…This satisfying evening drew a standing-room-only crowd to the handsome theater of The Players Club.  No doubt the enthusiastic audience will be fighting over tickets for the remaining concerts of the season which promise to be equally innovative.”

– Oberon’s Grove

 

 “Anthony Roth Costanzo, whose singing of Handel, Purcell and Vivaldi showed a delicious timbre, breath control of enviable security, and coloratura that left the listener astounded. For all the magic of his virtuoso vocalism, it was in the sustained poetry of the slow passages that the slender and agile young singer was at his most ingratiating. Tapering the phrases with staggering dynamic command, the voice spoke to us of a time when the great castrati brought audiences to the point of madness… Bradley Brookshire (above) played solo works by Bach and Scarlatti, his scale passages rippling off the keyboard with fantastical velocity and precision. A master of timing and of coaxing colours out of his instrument, Bradley even made the silences speak. His musical rapport with the countertenor was a complete delight to experience… Jared circled Anthony like an unseen spirit, a guardian angel. Using his wonderfully expressive hands to poetic effect, Jared moved with consummate grace, sometimes lifting the singer and cradling him with consoling tenderness. There were passages where Jared displayed hs vituosity in leaps and turns, but he always returned to keeping watch over his charge.”

Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche

 

“Performances of music from the Enlightenment — or public airings of the ideas of that era so central to our nation’s founding — are in scarce supply in contemporary America. Having both in one evening is fairly unheard of. That was a great part of the appeal of More Between Heaven and Earth (presented by Salon/Sanctuary Concerts), combining theater and opera, with a text culled directly from four decades of letters between Thomas Jefferson and the Italian/British composer Maria Cosway. Staged at New York’s Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, this “musical historical drama” starred Matthew Modine as Jefferson, Melissa Errico as Cosway and Kathleen Chalfant as narrator, and was expertly directed by Erica Gould. The director’s sister, Jessica Gould, Artistic Director and Founder of this series originated the idea, and wore additional hats as music researcher and translator, not to mention excellent soprano soloist…. The acting was superb, with Modine giving Jefferson a down-to-earth southern humanity and Errico infusing Cosway with a spark every bit the match for Jefferson’s towering intellect. Director Erica Gould managed to integrate selections from the actual Jefferson/Cosway letters into a seamless script that brought these historical figures to life. The musical performances were first-rate. Jessica Gould researched repertoire referred to in the Jefferson/Cosway correspondence, which included music discussed by the two after having heard it, or in the case of Cosway’s songs, music that she wrote for Jefferson. Tenor Karim Sulayman entranced the audience with his lyrical, focused and tender voice in arias and songs by Sacchini and James Hewitt. Soprano Jessica Gould was dazzling in two Sacchini arias, both perfectly suited to her expansive range, coloratura facility, and multi-hued, powerful sound. The two singers had superb accompaniment by members of the Clarion Society Orchestra, who also shone in several instrumental pieces. Violinist Cynthia Roberts gave a beautifully mournful Corelli Adagio, and in this dramatic context, Avi Stein’s furious and powerful harpsichord solo, Duphly’s Medée, symbolized the onslaught of the French Revolution.”

Alexandra Simon, Seen and Heard International

 

“Modine's Jefferson came to life as a complex, compelling, and unexpectedly funny and vulnerable, as well as visionary, man. Melissa Errico's Maria Cosway was a charming, brilliant, and conflicted heroine, who sang exquisitely when finding it easier to convey her complex feelings through music than through words. Kathleen Chalfant's narrator was commanding, warm, and funny as she guided the audience through the story. And the music of the French Revolution was expertly rendered by the exceptional playing of the Clarion Society Orchestra, and the heartfelt, thrilling performances of soprano Jessica Gould and tenor Karim Sulayman.”

BBW News Desk, Broadway World Classical​

 

“An opera lover addicted to Sturm und Drang, massive sets, big voices and lots of action might find the Lieder recital to be a bit minimalistic. But, and this is a BIG BUT, all depends on the artistry of the singer and the piano partner…When they are true artists the scenery and the story-telling take place in the listener’s mind. This was made perfectly clear in a flawless recital given by baritone Jesse Blumberg and pianist Audrey Axinn as part of the Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, a series created by Artistic Director Jessica Gould.”

Meche Kroop, The Opera Insider

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