Press.

9/8/2012 – La Bohème: Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago

Nicola Lischi, Opera Britannia

[…]But everything and everyone paled next to the performance of Maria Agresta, a young Italian soprano who in just two years has risen to international prominence thanks to formidably arduous roles such as Elena in I vespri siciliani, Odabella in Attila and the title role of Gemma di Vergy, a performance that swept me away and left me in awe last autumn in Bergamo. Although Mimì does not remotely present the vocal difficulties of such “soprano assoluta” roles, it nevertheless puts forward other kinds of challenges, principally of expressive order. First of all, score in hand, Ms. Agresta observed virtually each single Puccini marking. Let us analyze her “Sì, mi chiamano Mimì”, a relatively simple aria that is often a favourite object of abuse in innumerable auditions and voice competitions. She began her first high A natural (“di primavera”) pianissimo and then reinforced it with amazing ease, to return to piano on the descent to the middle E natural; her soft, floating, dreamy attack of the phrase “ma quando vien lo sgelo” truly suggested the state of mind of a young woman lost in reverie, and perfectly executed the crescendo to her second, long-held A natural of “primo bacio”, which she sang mezzo forte, only to gradually increase the volume on the third high A of “è mia”, fully reflecting the intentions of the composer, who at this point disseminates the scores with indications like “con molta anima”, “con grande espansione” etc.. And how can one forget the marvellous pianissimo of the last high A on the phrase “Così gentil il profumo d’un fiore”: in this case Puccini does not expressively ask the soprano to sing it piano, but the word “gentile” leaves no doubt as to what the singer should be really doing. It was like listening to this enormously popular aria almost for the first time, such was the care and attention Ms. Agresta lavished on it. The love duet concluding Act I was fortunately performed as written, so that the soprano could comfortably respect the composer’s wishes, singing the high C pp and “perdendosi”, without having to worry about being drowned by the tenor. More often than not, when Rodolfos insist on joining their Mimìs on that high note, the result is a shouting match, as very few tenors are able to sing so high in pianissimo, and sopranos have no choice but sing similarly loud in order not to be muffled.
The rest of Ms. Agresta’s performance was equally first-class, desperate without being over the top, fragile without being mawkish, moving without being overtly sentimental. Gifted with a naturally dark-hued timbre (it is worth mentioning that she started her career as a mezzo-soprano), a sizable robust instrument, an impressive palette of emotions fully realized by a flawless technique, and scrupulous respect for the composer’s intentions, Maria Agresta was nothing less than a complete Mimì.[…]

14/3/2012 – A TURIN, LA BOHÈME POUR RÊVER

Jacques Schmitt, resmusica.com

[…] Au terme de cette production, chacun se souviendra du flamboyant deuxième acte où la foule envahit le plateau dans la fête bruyante au Café Momus. Quelle débauche de costumes, quelles couleurs, quelle admirable manière de diriger les gens, les chœurs, les enfants, la fanfare défilant. Un spectacle remplissant la raison profonde du spectacle d’opéra : faire rêver.
Et chacun encore se souviendra du moment magique de l’ouverture du rideau sur le décor du troisième acte. Une scène recouverte de neige, les flocons tombant des cintres, sur une fond de scène évoquant des brouillards lointains. Quelle poésie ! Le public, pourtant rompu à cet opéra, ne peut alors retenir un « Oh ! » d’admiration devant cette étendue immaculée.
La seconde raison pour laquelle le public turinais se presse au Teatro Regio est la présence dans le rôle de Mimi de la soprano italienne Maria Agresta dont nos lignes avaient déjà loué le talent dans notre compte-rendu critique des « Vespri Siciliani » de Verdi en mars dernier. Totalement investie dans son personnage, elle fait une démonstration de chant à l’image des grandes Mimi de l’histoire. En l’entendant, on ne peut ne pas penser à Mirella Freni dont elle a la beauté du timbre alliée à la simplicité de l’expression vocale. D’entrée, son Mi chiamano Mimi la porte vers des sommets d’interprétation. On se régale. Et lorsqu’au troisième acte, elle prend congé de Rodolfo dans son air Donde lieta usci, quelle douceur en même
temps quel amour dans le susurrement de son Addio, senza rancor. Incontestablement, avec Maria Agresta, l’art lyrique s’honore de l’une de ses plus grandes artistes. […]

22/9/2011 – Maria Agresta è una vera Gemma

Giorgio Gualerzi, Famiglia Cristiana

La migliore delle giovani voci sopranili espresse dal nostro Paese conferma tutta la sua bravura nella donizettiana “Gemma di Vergy” riportata al Festival di Bergamo.
Gemma di Vergy, nonostante il libretto sconclusionato, fu una delle opere donizettiane più popolari dell’Ottocento. Protagonista è la gelosia femminile all’ennesima potenza, impersonata da Gemma, castellana francese del XV secolo ripudiata dal marito, che richiede un soprano drammatico di agilità dotato di grande temperamento e di prestigio scenico (la prima fu la talentuosa Giuseppina Ronzi De Begnis). Riportata in vita nel 1987 dal Festival di Bergamo grazie ad Adriana Maliponte, l’opera è riapparsa ora nella stessa sede, penalizzata dalla connaturata debolezza drammaturgica, ma esaltata dal prevaricante delirio della bistrattata Gemma. Costei ha trovato un’eccellente interprete in Maria Agresta, la migliore delle giovani voci sopranili espresse dal nostro Paese. Il suo notevole patrimonio vocale attende soltanto di essere disciplinato e orientato nella giusta scelta del repertorio, dalla quale dipende il suo più o meno brillante avvenire.

20/9/2011 – Maria Agresta an outstanding interpreter

George Loomis, The New York Times

Bergamo had an outstanding interpreter of the title role in Maria Agresta, whose full, iridescent soprano dealt handily with the music’s demands for bel canto gracefulness as well as for Verdi-like fervor, offering some beautiful pianissimos along the way.