“Ms. Feola has a warm, full-bodied voice with natural bloom and a touch of darkening richness. She dispatched coloratura runs and filigree with ease and agility. There was nothing generic about the beauty of her singing. Depending on the dramatic urgency of the moment, she would inflect a phrase with an earthy, even steely sheen. She seemed at home in Michael Mayer’s garishly colorful production, which sets the story in 1960s Las Vegas, with the Duke (the tenor Matthew Polenzani, in excellent voice) presented as a sort of headliner on the strip. In fact, the contemporary trappings allowed Mr. Feola to tease out contemporary resonances from Gilda’s character.
From the start, you could sense how exasperated this restless Gilda was with her smothering father, the jester Rigoletto (the baritone George Gagnidze), who tries to keep her in seclusion at home. When the Duke, pretending to be a poor student, romances her, Ms. Feola’s Gilda practically trembles with pent-up longing. Even in the wrenching Act II scene when Gilda, having been kidnapped by the Duke’s men and brought to their boss, confesses all to her father, Ms. Feola’s Gilda was alternately consumed with shame and afire with helpless ardor.”
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 28 April 2019
Rosa Feola Shines As Gilda
“Making her highly anticipated Met debut as Rigoletto’s prepossessing young daughter Gilda, Italian soprano Rosa Feola revealed herself to be enchanting in the role. Feola’s mellifluous sound is of rich color and features a lovely quick spin that paints her as a youthful, energetic, if not somewhat naïve soul. A soul so pure and innocent that it will attract tragedy with magnetic force.
Her “Caro Nome” was the perfect balance of passionate and delicate. Jay Goodwin, the Met’s Editorial Director, mentions in the Program Note that because “Rigoletto” is driven constantly forward in an “arioso-like mixture” of recitative, aria, and ensemble numbers, it is important that Gilda’s signature aria (among other solo numbers) be “handled by the performers with tasteful understatement to avoid seeming out of place and stalling the crucial momentum.” As she sang of her beloved Gualtier Maldè, the Duke in disguise, Feola tenderly delivered skillful coloratura and jubilant trills, evoking the feeling of Gilda’s rapidly fluttering heart. Her staccato notes were punctuated with youthful anticipation, as if the young beauty could hardly catch her breath in her state of joy and excitement.
In revealing her disobedience to her father in the second Act, Feola initially presents her Gilda as distraught and embarrassed. However, as she relives the events leading up to that night – the discovery of the handsome young man at church, their romantic eyes-only conversations – she makes it clear that her distress has more to do with fear of hurting her father than her abduction and affair. In those moments, the infatuation of “Caro nome” could be still heard in her voice, gentle yet carrying an intense emotion, suggesting that she would remain beguiled by the Duke.
Feola performed Gilda’s final moments, as she chose to sacrifice herself for her lover, with a moving (almost frustratingly so) woefulness. Maintaining a warm, “pure” sound to the end, even through her sorrows and the thunder storm, the soprano highlighted Gilda’s youthful innocence in a way that not only made her death more heart wrenching but made Rigoletto’s loss all the more painful to experience.”
Operawire ‘Rosa Feola Makes Triumphant Met Debut Alongside Matthew Polenzani & George Gagnidze, 1 May 2019
“Rigogliosa, piena e rotonda è la vocalità di Rosa Feola, una Gilda molto ben cantata con voce non solo bella, ma soprattutto omogenea come è raro ascoltare in questo ruolo, spesso affidato a soprani dalla voce più sbilanciata nel volume verso il settore acuto. Le agilità sono sgranate con perizia, ma è soprattutto la chiusura della vendetta a impressionare, con un folgorante mi bemolle, pieno e sicuro, che entusiasma la sala del Met. E, per inciso, in un Rigoletto eseguito con parsimonia di puntature di tradizione (in pratica c’è solo questa, oltre a quella della “maledizione” finale del protagonista) le stesse acquistano anche una valenza espressiva più forte rispetto a esibizioni più generosamente circensi.”
[Translated] ‘Rosa Feola’s vocals are lush, full and round, a very well sung Gilda with a voice that is not only beautiful, but above all homogeneous which is rare to hear in this role, often entrusted to sopranos with the most unbalanced voice in the volume towards the acute sector. Agility is skilfully shelled, but it is above all the closure of revenge that impresses, with a dazzling E-flat, full and secure, which excites the hall of the Met. And, incidentally, in a Rigoletto performed sparingly with traditional punctuation (in practice there is only this, in addition to that of the final “curse” of the protagonist) they also acquire a stronger expressive value compared to more generously circus performances.’
Fabrizio Moschini, Opera Click, 25 May 2019
“Surely everyone enjoyed the evening’s soprano and tenor. Gilda can be a striking, high-wire Met debut role. Gianna d’Angelo, Mariella Devia, June Anderson, and Sumi Jo all pulled it off, and so, splendidly, did Italian-born Rosa Feola, after doing the part in Naples, Munich, Chicago, Zurich, and elsewhere. Feola made the naive girl both appealingly vulnerable and understandably chafing at her father’s evasions and restrictions. She made much of the text and sang in a limpid, well-projected lyric-coloratura that could ride the orchestra when necessary. Brava! She seems like a major addition to the company roster.”
David Shengold, Gay City News, 23 May 2019