REVIEWS

La Fanciulla del West, Minnie

Charlotte, NC -2017
“A performance of La bohème can overcome poor singing from its Mimì, but Minnie in Fanciulla faces the most daunting fate of any Puccini heroine: survival. The vocal sins of an inadequate Mimì are easily forgiven when she breathes her last in the company of her friends, but Minnie, whose resilience is the backbone of Fanciulla, has no tragedy behind which to hide. Upon her shoulders, the opera soars or sinks, and soprano Kristin Sampson, a diminutive Atlas with a voice of satin and steel, lofted Opera Carolina’s Fanciulla into the endless California sky with an imaginative but delightfully straightforward portrayal of Minnie. Though reinforced by a shot from her pistol, this Minnie’s entrance was sufficient to end the fracas among Rance, Sonora, and their factions in Act One, her pointed query ‘Che cos’è stato?’ reducing the burly men to stuttering embarrassment. Beginning the miners’ coveted Bible lesson, Sampson voiced the Andantino ‘Dove eravamo? Ruth...Ezechiel’ and the plaintive ‘Lavami e sarò bianco come neve’ girlishly, laying the foundation of belief in redemption and rejuvenation upon which the opera’s final scene is built. Derisively describing Nina Micheltoreña when the Postiglione brought news of the harlot’s proposed meeting with Ashby, her voice assumed an air of coquetry as she insinuated ‘È una finta spagnuola nativa di Cachuca.’ Sparring with Rance, for whom the respect she invoked was genuine, was for Sampson’s Minnie sport without the slightest indication of ill will. The surprise and hurt of Rance’s betrayal of the cordiality of their relationship were therefore heightened.

Sampson approached Minnie’s Andantino aria ‘Laggiù nel Soledad, ero piccina’ not as a showpiece but as a rare reverie in which the girl allowed herself to reminisce about the distant joys of her childhood. The soprano ascended to a bright, secure top C, but this was a component rather than the goal of her performance of the aria. Energized by Johnson’s unexpected arrival at the Polka, Sampson’s Minnie vouched for him with an ‘Io lo conosco! Innanzi al campo intero...sto garante per Johnson!’ of inviolable integrity. When invited to dance, the innocence at the core of Sampson’s mirthful reading of ‘Io? Scusatemi: voi non lo crederete, non ho mai ballato in vita mia’ was enchanting. Guarded surrender to new feelings emanated from her singing of ‘Mister Johnson, siete rimasto indiestro a farmi compagnia per custodir la casa?’ Her well-schooled vocalism notwithstanding, it was impossible to doubt this Minnie when she asserted ‘Io non son che una povera fanciulla’ and punctuated the declaration with a shining top B. There is no more bewitchingly self-effacing remark in opera than Minnie’s ‘Non v’aspettate molto! Non ho che trenta dollari soli d’educazione,’ in which she ashamedly warns Johnson of the dullness of her conversation owing to her education amounting to only what thirty dollars can buy, and Sampson sang the lines without a trace of artifice. Remembering Johnson’s parting words, she caressed each syllable of ‘Come ha detto? Un viso d’angelo,’ ending Act One with a sigh of reawakened love.

Few characters in opera experience greater personal upheaval than Minnie endures in Act Two of La fanciulla del West. Preparing the mountainside cabin—and herself—to host Johnson, Sampson’s Minnie proclaimed ‘Voglio vestirmi tutta come in giorno di festa’ with boundless joy, her top B♭ like a beacon to guide Johnson along the craggy path to her welcoming abode. As in her aria in Act One, she phrased ‘Oh, se sapeste come il vivere è allegro!’ in a manner in which her stunning top B was an extension of the line rather than its own destination. Sampson’s fortissimo top C when Minnie awarded her first kiss to Johnson left no doubt about the breadth of her elation. Having embraced these new sensations, the upending of her world when Rance brusquely informed her that her lover was deceiving her was devastating. Sampson vaulted ‘Vieni fuori, vieni fuori, vieni fuor!’ into the theatre with abandon, her top B♭ glinting. The rising tide of her desperation crested on the soprano’s incendiary voicing of ‘Vigliacco! Ah! Via di qua, vigliacco!’ She gamely touched the top C♯ that Puccini cruelly requested, the roar of a wounded soul. The scene in which Minnie challenges Rance to a life-or-death game of poker is nothing short of genius, and Puccini’s orchestration, reducing the soundscape to percussion amplifying the palpitations of Minnie’s heart, is the work of a keen theatrical sensibility. Sampson suggested ‘Una partita a poker!’ with pluck that tempered her anxiety. Having distracted Rance and produced the winning hand from the folds of her skirt, this Minnie’s ‘Vi sbagliate. È la gioia! Ho vinto io! Tre assi e un paio!’ brandished the brawn of Brünnhilde’s battle cry. The string of top As as Minnie entered in Act Three streaked across the gloomy scene like lightning, and even at the foot of the scaffold the miners’ faces were illuminated with the happiness that Minnie brought to them. Sampson sang ‘Di qual giustizia parli tu?’ potently, and with ‘Non vi fumai chi disse: Basta!’ she scolded the society into which she introduced the concepts of compassion and forgiveness. This was her final lesson to her beloved friends: as Hermann Hesse put it, there are situations in which letting go requires greater strength of character than holding on. Sampson’s Minnie was a fighter without enmity, in voice as much as in spirit a true Girl of the Golden West.”
—  Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts

La Fanciulla del West, Minnie

Charlotte, NC -2017
“The role of Minnie, the barkeeper and adoptive mother of the miner’s camp, is demanding. Before she is allowed to ride into that sunset, she must – as almost the sole woman in the opera – be able to withstand a tenor, a bass, a large chorus of loud men, and the fortissimo orchestra all by herself. Soprano Kristin Sampson did this with great aplomb...she was entirely creditable as Minnie, tender as well as tough, excellent in the love duet, and chilling in the scene where she plays poker with the sheriff for her lover’s life. Sampson’s Minnie was neither a tough old broad nor an ingénue, but a steadfast young woman who knows her own mind, and Sampson had her measure.”

—  Phillip Larrimore, Charlotte Observer

 

Charlotte, NC -2017
“Ms. Kristin Sampson had enormous stamina during this long role with wide range without any fatigue by the end of the last act, and was able to deliver dramatic soprano singing with power and good colors.

—  Luiz Gazzola, Opera Lively

 

Charlotte, NC -2017

“Making her Opera Carolina debut, soprano Kristin Sampson brings a stocky presence to Minnie that seemed, upon a few minutes of reflection, to be as right as Ethel Merman singing the gun-toting Annie Oakley. While I'd be leery of seeing Sampson as the fragile Mimi in Bohème, there was Tosca-like power for her to work with here as she made her dynamic entrance with a good-sized firearm holstered on her hip. She decisively resisted Rance and did not melt easily when Johnson started wooing, so her half of the Act 2 love duet came with a delicious onrush of amorous passion we hadn't heard before. Yet she far surpassed herself in Act 3, pleading for Ramerrez's life – one miner at a time – in Minnie's "Non vi fu mai chi disse 'Basta!'" The plaint built powerfully in its conviction, and as the miners gradually joined in, became a chorus of communal forgiveness and kindness that I found unexpectedly moving.”
—  Perry Tannenbaum, CVNC An Online Arts Journal in North Carolina

La Campana Sommersa, Magda

New York, NY -2017

“Rautendelein finds the dying Enrico at home with Magda, his devoted wife (the rich-toned soprano Kristin Sampson), and his two children. ”

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times 

New York, NY -2017

"As his anguished wife, Kristin Sampson showed a luscious tone, combined with appropriate sorrow..."

Bruce Hodges, New York Classical Review

New York, NY -2017

“...Kristin Sampson was compelling as Magda.”

George Loomis, MusicalAmerica.com

New York, NY -2017

“Kristin Sampson was a passionate Magda...”

— Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal

New York, NY -2017

"The best voices of the night were Michael Chioldi in the role of Ondino, a rich and warm voice baritone, and Kristin Sampson as Magda, a good-natured lyric soprano who conveyed the disbelief and despair of the ringer's wife."

— Pedro J. Lapeña Rey, Codalario.com

New York, NY -2017

“Rautendelein, mooning after Enrico, joins him and his wife Magda (Kristin Sampson, in a passionate, moving performance)..."

—  Joel Benjamin, Theatrescene.net

 

New York, NY -2017

“There (in Act II), she soon cures and seduces Enrico, though he gets a fine duet with his wife, the deep and moving soprano of Kristin Sampson.”

—  John Yohalem, Parterre Box

 

Symphony No. 9 in D minor

Carnegie Hall, New York, NY-2016

Symphony No. 9 in D minor
"With the massed triple chorus supported by an orchestra augmented by contrabassoon and extra percussion, this was a powerful, blow-your-socks-off attempt at the night. Here it was the female soloists who won the day, with strong performances from soprano Kristin Sampson..."

— Paul J. Pelkonen, Superconductor

Tosca, Tosca

New York, NY -2016

“The soprano Kristin Sampson brought a bright, sizable and expressive voice to the role of Tosca…There were moments when this production took off, like the surefire scene in which Cavaradossi is being tortured offstage while Scarpia tries to get Tosca to reveal where her lover has hidden Angelotti. Here, Ms. Sampson and Mr. Chioldi kicked this production into gear.”

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times 

New York, NY -2016

“Sampson excels in the title role, her lyric timbre, supple chest voice and shining high Cs.”

— David Shengold, Opernwelt

New York, NY -2016

“Kristin Sampson…sang idiomatically, with a good, secure, focused voice, and showed an understanding of the character’s emotional makeup.”

George Loomis, MusicalAmerica.com

 

New York, NY -2016

“…the performance manner was appealingly old-fashioned…soprano Kristin Sampson being unabashedly histrionic in the title role”

— David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

New York, NY -2016

“The opening-night cast, all singers experienced in their roles, was vocally respectable if not scintillating. Kristin Sampson was a steely, imperious Tosca…”

— Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal

New York, NY -2016

“As Floria Tosca, soprano Kristin Sampson was exciting, if at times thrillingly unhinged. In certain key passages, she managed to enact Tosca’s fear, desperation, and ferocity with an admirable abandon.”

— Patrick Clement James, Parterre Box

 

New York, NY -2016

“As Roman diva Tosca, Sampson gave us a lilting “Non la sospiri la nostra casetta” and touching, smooth legato “Vissi d’arte;” displayed a strong high C in Acts Two and Three; joined Valenti in winning romantic duets in the first and last acts and, fiery when it counts, engaged in a gripping, graphic struggle with Chioldi in the second, during which she stabbed him not only in the chest, but also in the back.”

 Bruce-Michael Gelbert, [Q]onStage

 

New York, NY -2016

“Soprano Kristen Sampson gave Tosca a warmer shade than she usually gets…and gave Tosca some additional, and welcome, humanity.”

 Jonathan Warman, Gay Socialites.com

 

New York, NY -2016

“Kristin Sampson's Vissi d'arte was one of the highlights, although everyone was excellent. My compliments to the casting. The way Sampson dropped her shoulders and seemed to musically sigh out the first phrase gave me a feeling that the downward slide of the notes in the phrase was written by Puccini as a defeated, plaintive sigh.”

— Christine Chase, Basso Buff

New York, NY -2016

“Kristin Sampson was a piquant little Tosca who turned into a tiger...”

—  Barbara Tober, The Virtual Dinner Party

Copyright 2020 

Royal Artists Management

Phone: 011 33 6 78 63 04 18;  US Phone: 323.594.0890- Website: www.royalartistsmanagement.com

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Phone: 212.586.4453 Website: www.lombardoassociates.org

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