The radiant mezzo Renée Rapier immediately engaged our ears with a plush, ripe tonal beauty that announced her as a major discovery. In short order, she also captured our hearts with an especially assured Una voce poco fa. Her fresh, spontaneous reading of this thrice-familiar piece immediately established her credentials as a first tier Rosina. Ms. Rapier’s rich lower register was wedded to a solid middle and brilliant top, giving off coloratura sparks as demanded, and coy romantic heat when appropriate. She, too, proved to be a well-rounded, richly complicated personality, and she found a variety of meaningful expression in her impersonation. Her comic sensibilities were a formidable component in the day’s success, and she clearly relished interacting and conspiring with her Figaro and Lindoro. Even though I knew it was coming, her spot on revelation that she has already written the love note that Figaro is prompting her to compose was so “right” that I barked a surprised laugh out loud. This cast was treating the audience to Barbiere as if for the first time, and we relished their sense of discovery.
At the end of what had to be one of the longest, most confusing weeks for many in the Bay Area and around the country, it was not one brilliant woman, but two, who lifted our spirits, brought order to things and with their various talents, inspired us to hope.With the strength of Layna Chianakas’ direction and the resplendent singing and acting of mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier, we were astounded by the quality of this production.Make no mistake: the men in this cast were brilliant, too.But at the end of the day, it is Rapier that people should listen to. The mezzo has appeared with the San Francisco and Los Angeles opera companies, but as one knowledgeable audience member remarked, “She could sing this role on any stage in the world”.Rapier’s seamless portrayal of Rosina’s ambiguous qualities was buttressed by a unified, blistering vocal technique that students can appreciate. From “Una voce poco fa”, colors and ornaments were meticulously placed and musically satisfying. Her ravishing tone in “Contro un cor che accende amor”, traveled the ends of the hall, even throughout, and her duet with Myer, “Dunque io son”, was nothing short of resplendent.
Rosina, played by Renee Rapier, is equally brash and silly, giving her character a refreshing self-awareness not seen in the others, save Figaro, to whom she most closely relates. Her voice is a deep and smoky mezzo-soprano, though she displays a wide tonal dexterity.
The first notes we hear her sing are in the lower range and showed immediately the rich depth of this mezzo-soprano. An agile voice with a wide range is needed for this part and Ms. Rapier delivered on both counts with a combination of sparkle, wit and charm. She shows another side of her character, her strong willpower in ‘Una Voce poco fa’ which ends with a piece of outstanding bravura.
Vocally, both Edris and Rapier made a strong impression, with Rapier’s warm mezzo and focused delivery suggesting that she could easily take on the role of Carmen herself.
The entire ensemble cast proved to be of the highest standard. Renée Rapier made her mark as Mrs. Bass, the school-marmish owner of the boarding house. Ms. Rapier sang with clarity and finesse, and communicated a completely realized character.
As an example of luxury casting on the part of Seattle opera, the small role of Mary Stuart’s companion Anna was sung by Renee Rapier, an excellent artist with a major career ahead of her.
Renée Rapier makes a charmingly believable young Cherubino, the boy in love with love. Rapier captures perfectly the conflicted emotional states of her character, one moment driven by passionate affection, the next a floundering adolescent.
Rapier doesn’t overplay the gender bend in her role as the horny boy who has to disguise himself by dressing up as a girl and sings one of Mozart’s most beautiful arias, “Voi che sapete” (“You women know what love is”) with perfect poise.
Special mention must go to American mezzo Renée Rapier, who reprises her cross-dressing portrayal of the young page Cherubino from The Ghosts of Versailles. Her lovely, lyrical voice is complemented by an infectious charm and charisma that makes us root for the hormone-charged adolescent.
Iowa mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier, an alumna of the Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist’s program, proved an endearing and funny Cherubino, who sings (beautifully) two of Mozart’s most famous arias and gets abundant laughs as Tagliavini’s Figaro sings Non piu andrai, the number one aria on the Mozart hit parade.Although she has had important comprimario roles at both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Operas, her Los Angeles Opera Cherubino should be considered a breakout role for this talented mezzo.
Renée Rapier expanded on her gender-bent turn as Cherubino inThe Ghosts of Versailles, portraying to great comic effect an amorous young man who has to dress as a woman to escape the Count’s wrath.
The Cherubino of Renee Rapier presented a youthful mezzo of real character and excellent comic timing.
Renee Rapier’s Cherubino was wide-eyed and ardent, her mezzo-soprano touchingly innocent in the young page’s Act II serenade.
The vocal talent is present throughout a well-balanced cast: Renée Rapier (Cornelia) stands out especially, conveying a sympathetic, quiet desperation
Renée Rapier brought to the role of Cornelia a dark, velvety mezzo and smoothly controlled, unfailingly eloquent phrasing to match. She summoned such a proud, noble presence that it was all the more unfortunate that Rader-Shieber called on this Cornelia to attempt suicide by means of assorted gardening tools.
If anyone has bloomed in their final year in the program, it is departing mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier. The richness and gravity of her “Fia dunque vero, o ciel … O mio Fernando” from Donizetti’s La Favorita, graced by impressive low notes and a solid albeit brief high ending, won us all over. Equally gratifying was her heavenly blend with Harris in Puccini’s Butterfly / Suzuki duet, “Scuoti quella fronda di ciliegio.” She also won the Best Dress of the Evening Award.
As Meg Page, another of the Merry Wives (and, like Alice, one of Falstaff’s targets) mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier was supple and creamy-toned.
Terfel is surrounded by an outstanding cast: Ainhoa Arteta as Alice sparkles; Adler Fellow Renée Rapier as Meg is equally appealing.
Rapier’s exceptional strength and solidity as Octavian in the concert’s close, the final trio from Der Rosenkavalier, more than held its own opposite Sierra’s high C soaring Sophie... Rapier displayed equal core strength and many expressive touches in her “Parto, ma tu ben mio” tour de force from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, and dueted perfectly with Jose Gonzalez Granero’s clarinet.
The most French sounding singer was mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier as Stephano, a Montague youth invented for the opera to taunt the Capulets with song.
In the case of aptly named mezzo-soprano Renee Rapier, her razor-sharp focus during Erika’s aria from Barber’s Vanessa, “Must the Winter Come so Soon,” was so intense that both she and the audience were spellbound.
During an extended orchestral introduction (perfectly timed by conductor Mark Morash), mezzo Renée Rapier as Charlotte had to cross the entire stage slowly with her eyes fixed on the box in which she had saved Werther’s letters. Her focus was so intense that one easily forgot about the whipping chill wind in the air, not to mention the scraps of paper blowing off stage after she untied the ribbon around those letters. Her subsequent confession scene with her younger sister Sophie, sung by soprano Janai Brugger-Orman, was equally effective and certainly compelling enough to leave us hungry for a performance of the entire opera.
Before I comment on Luisotti’s conducting, an apology to Adler Fellow Renée Rapier. Although the small role of Giovanna gives her little to sing – well, in fact – it did give her the opportunity to display her superior acting ability. Keep your eyes on her – her facial expressions and mannerisms in the scene where she sneaks the Duke into the house are a delight