"Von Stade can do no wrong. Her singing was polished yet warm, like china under whose thin glaze are painted scenes of extraordinary delicacy. One heard dainty, loving anticipation and the solitary soul. It was something close to ecstasy."
- New York Newsday
"During the past three decades, Frederica von Stade has gathered legions of admirers worldwide. They're a fiercely loyal company, and it's easy to understand why. Her stage performances and recitals combine superior artistry with emotional directness, clarity of tone with crystalline diction, natural elegance with unpretentious passion."
- Donald Spoto, Opera News
In Concert with Erich Kunzel - the Ravinia Festival
"Von Stade seems to have a wonderful time on stage, and it's impossible not to have a good time along with her."
- Sarah Bryan Miller, Chicago Tribune
Review of Richard Danielpour's "Elegies" on Sony Classics
"Von Stade has made some of the most consistently rewarding vocal records of the past twenty-five years. Fifty-three at the time of this recording, she still has the unique tangerine timbre that has always identified her, and she still sounds remarkably youthful."
- Opera News - September 2001
In recital - Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
"Even if she were not one of the great singers of our day, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade could probably draw a full house of people eager just to be in her presence and watch her be herself. She's that enchanting. Von Stade communicates something to her listeners - a startling radiance compounded of serene grace and simple delight - that few other recitalists can match.
Those qualities came through in the breezy, unaffected way she introduced the evening's repertoire - a series of French chansons, some new American tunes and a smidgen of Schoenberg - and they came through even more clearly in her singing itself. Accompanied by pianist Martin Katz, von Stade transformed each piece into a gentle, shimmering moment of emotional truth.
Vocally, the singer continues to offer a comprehensive catalog of virtues. Her tone remains lustrous and even throughout its range. Her phrasing is eloquent and subtle, her technique discreetly precise, her diction magnificent."
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
In recital - Roy Thompson Hall, Toronto
"A distinguished alumna of the Metropolitan Opera and a cherished interpreter of such roles as Melisande, Cherubino and Octavian, she is one of relatively few opera stars who look and sound equally comfortable on a recital stage.
When she walked out last night in a voluminous full-length gown, she personified elegance, American style, her smile and sparkling personality winning her audience's commitment before so much as a note proceeded from her mouth.
The notes, when they came, were certainly well-formed, properly pitched and beautifully phrased, but what made them so welcome was the sense that their meaning had everything to do with serving a song rather than showing off a voice. There was an almost conversational quality to the way she presented the songs that had the effect of shrinking the hall to the dimensions of a drawing room."
- William Littler, Toronto Star
In recital - Pantages Theatre, Tacoma
"Endowed with one of the most beautiful voices and a technique to match, von Stade swept into the Pantages Theatre like a breath of spring air, captivating her appreciative audience with characteristic openness, honesty and lack of pretension. Like all great recitalists, von Stade is a superb storyteller, able to capture and communicate the essential character and mood of each song with telling effect.
Unlike opera, an art song tells a story, defines its characters and establishes an emotional ambience in just a few brief minutes. A wonderfully accomplished actress, von Stade becomes the song and draws one into the composer's creation with unaffected ease.
Rich and creamy, the singer's mezzo-soprano voice wraps one in glorious sound. Von Stade's extraordinary sense of line, and her remarkable ability to shade and color the voice imbues her singing with constant variety. There is never any sense of effort in her singing. The voice just flows."
- Cary Smith, The News Tribune
In concert with Seattle Symphony
"Lovely to look at as well as to hear, von Stade is a performer who locks into an audience, reaching right into the crowd with her voice and her radiant smile, and mesmerizing her listeners with the sense that she is singing only for them.
'Les Nuits d'été' ('Summer Nights') is deceptively difficult, with its long, flowing lines requiring strong vocal technique, support and a wide range. Von Stade gave an elegant and warmhearted performance, sung in beautifully articulated French that rang out so clearly in Benaroya Hall that you could follow every word. She clearly transmitted the emotional content of the eloquent Gautier poems about love, nature and death."
- Belinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
In concert with Spokane Symphony Orchestra
"Von Stade defines what is meant by 'charisma' for a musical artist. From the moment the mezzo-soprano came on stage, the audience was drawn into what she was singing and how she was singing it.
- Travis Rivers
In concert with Chanticleer - Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco
"The music world boasts no slyer or more enchanting upstager than Frederica von Stade.
The ever-delightful mezzo-soprano joined Chanticleer on Friday night for a wondrous concert in Calvary Presbyterian Church and promptly took up residence in the spotlight. No one minded - not the audience and not the splendid men's chorus, which seemed perfectly content to spend the evening as a 12-headed accompanist.
It's impossible to begrudge von Stade her effortless charisma and lustrous musicianship. Not only is her singing entrancing and her stage presence pure magic, but she also manages to project an endearing air of modesty about the whole thing."
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
"The combination of mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and male chorus Chanticleer is a match made in heaven. Chanticleer's almost flawless, vibratoless ethereal blend is the perfect foil for von Stade's full, burnished operatic sound."
- Eric Hansen, The Star
In recital - Duke University
"Her silky voice stretches effortlessly across periods and genres, sounding as delightful in Romantic German love songs as it does in Argentinian comic folk songs.
Her voice shone especially in the works by Scarlatti which opened the program. The warmth and ornamentation of Italian baroque suited her honeyed and versatile voice. 'Cara e dolce,' slow and minor, brought out a low, husky sensuality.
The lyrical love songs of the French composer Maurice Ravel were also an excellent showcase for von Stade's warm, rich tones.
Von Stade also found a showcase for her sense of humor in a number of comic selections. Her flair for comedy came out particularly in Strauss's 'Muttertändelei,' which is a song of a mother's gloating pride in her child's accomplishments. Von Stade used her considerable talent as an actress to enhance the humor of this musical joke, dwelling dotingly on the notes just as a mother dotes fondly on her child's talents.
Since most of the songs on the program were not in English, von Stade's acting ability added considerably to the audience's ability to understand and enjoy her music. Her wonderful expressions and body language made the translations provided in the program almost unnecessary.
But von Stade's musical gifts were by no means overshadowed by her comic abilities. Her incredibly versatile voice added to the humor of her songs, jumping quickly from note to note or dropping drastically in ironic crescendos. In Strauss's 'Begegnung,' for example, her skillful changes of pace and full tone echoed the scarcely contained excitement of the song's protagonist, a young woman stealing her first kiss behind her parents' backs.
Among the few English songs on the program was the jazzy 'Amor' by William Bolcom. Von Stade's voice and manner matched the straightforward and proud character of the song, which she ended by blowing the audience a kiss.
In addition to utilizing her humorous dramatic qualities, von Stade broke the usual division between audience and performer by introducing some of her songs herself. Since much of von Stade's performance was sung in foreign languages, the amusing anecdotes and background information she provided were useful for opera novices.
Von Stade introduced Ravel's 'Nicolette' with the description 'Nicolette is a woman of the nineties.' This characterization helped to make sensible this intriguing song about a 'Red Riding Hood' who runs away from the wolf, turns down the handsome page, then runs into the arms of a dirty old man who offers her money.
Even an opera-hater would have loved von Stade's rendition of Ravel's 'Air de Concepcion,' from 'L'heure espagnole,' which she explained expresses the frustration of a bored married woman whose fat Spanish lover gets stuck fixing her clock. Von Stade's performance captured the humor of the situation in dripping melodramatic tones."
- Erica Longfellow, the Chronicle
In recital - Boulder, Colorado
"Years will come and years will go, yet I may never hear anything as perfect again as mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade's performance of Faure's 'Clair de Lune' in her wonderful Macky Auditorium recital Tuesday night, launching this season's CU artist series.
- Jeff Bradley, Denver Post
Placido Domingo and Friends; Welcome Concert and Gala - Los Angeles
"Everything von Stade touched turned to gold."
- David Gregson, Opera News
In recital - Lydia Mendelssohn Theater
"The funny thing about that voice is that it disappears - in the very best sense. Yes, it is beautiful, by turns velvety, as in the opening sound of the Faure set, 'Les Roses d'Ispahan,' and pure, as in the succeeding 'Prison,' where von Stade sounded almost like a boy soprano. But ultimately, listening to von Stade, one's focus becomes not her sound, but the music itself, and its message. Nothing stands between you and it, and it's all the more remarkable for her lovely presence and her skills as a singer-actress."
- Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Michigan Live
In concert - Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
"The delirious sonorities of the first half of Chausson's 'Poem of Love and the Sea,' heard at Friday's Milwaukee Symphony concert, compare to the sudden, overwhelming perfume of night-blooming jasmine or the entrance of Frederica von Stade into the room.
As it happened, von Stade was there, filling Marcus Center Uihlein Hall with a mezzo as fresh and natural as sunlit dawn and the impressive presence of a confident, smart, American woman, the diva for the third millennium.
Von Stade is the perfect match for this music; her voice, rich and strong from bottom to top, lavished intoxicating pleasures upon the ears of the 1,511 assembled. She understood the music exactly, and let her voice ride its surging harmonies and brilliant orchestration. The orchestra, led with energy by Andreas Delfs, had no need to hold back; they were not going to cover von Stade."
- Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mrs. De Rocher - Dead Man Walking - San Francisco Opera
"Frederica von Stade, who has championed Mr. Heggie's songs, turned down the main role and ended up with a better deal. As Mrs. De Rocher, the convict's mother, she stole the show with two poignant scenes - a plea to the pardon board for her son's life, and her farewell to him. Mr. Heggie wrote more persuasive music for these unvarnished emotions, and Ms. von Stade gave a bravura performance of this broken woman whose love for her son was not enough to save him from himself. Ms. von Stade's dime-store clothes, designed by Sam Fleming, and her physical embodiment of a woman making a huge effort to overcome her timidity and misery, were also perfectly on target."
- Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal
"Frederica von Stade stole the show as De Rocher's anguished mother."
- Terry Teachout, Time Magazine
"Frederica von Stade gave a wrenching performance as De Rocher's mother."
- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"Once rumored for Sister Helen's role, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade delivered a knockout vignette as Joe's mother, not least in the character's poignant awkwardness."
- Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner
"In some ways the most spectacular perfomance, though, came from Frederica von Stade, in a hauntingly direct portrait of Mrs. De Rocher. Her simple plea to the Pardon Commission ('Don't kill my Joe') begins as unadorned recitative, then grows steadily in rhetorical force, and von Stade - inhabiting the role with unnerving depth and transparency - made this scene an emotional highlight."
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
"The infinitely various and gifted Frederica von Stade, as Joseph's mother (with two younger children), was as deeply touching in her uncertainty and her unassuming plainness as in her powerful singing."
-William Glackin, Sacramento Bee
"Von Stade came through with a deeply moving portrayal. She caught the bewildered nature of this woman, who desperately tries to convince herself that her boy couldn't be guilty of such a heinous crime. Von Stade had an unforgettable moment, when she entered the board room, started to turn to the victims' parents in a conciliatory gesture, then pulled back, self-consciously."
- Brian Kellow, Opera News
"As Joe's mother, Frederica von Stade once again showed her consummate artistry as a singing actress. More than 30 years after her debut she sounds like someone half her age and invests everything she does with depth and grace."
- Father Basil DePinto, The Catholic Voice
Penelope - The Return of Ulysses to His Homeland - Los Angeles Opera
"Von Stade's Penelope, perfected over many years of experience (she has been singing the part at least since 1976 when she debuted at New York City Opera) is of searing intensity. Her thorough mastery of the part (no prompters in this production!) and her sense of total involvement is thrillingly apparent. She has you weeping in the first five minutes following her initial appearance. Watching her move, watching her act, hearing her sing (often in a beautiful low-lying area of her voice I've heard too infrequently before), is among the greatest experiences I have had in the musical theatre. I'd previously held Janet Baker as the finest exponent of this role, but now I have to hand the crown to von Stade.
- Timothy Pfaff, Los Angeles Times
In the title role of Xerxes - Seattle Opera
"Her mezzo is a combination of silky richness and limber technique, ready to do what the composer dictates."
- R. M. Campbell, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Hanna Glawari - The Merry Widow - Metropolitan Opera
"The Metropolitan presented, for the first time in its history, 'The Merry Widow' by Lehár in an English translation by Martin Crimp. It was a kind of tribute to Frederica von Stade - on the 30th anniversary of her debut in the house - who offered an enchanting and effervescent presence in addition to a solid vocal performance. The entrance of the mezzo, descending a red-carpeted staircase in front of a brightly illuminated Eiffel Tower and wearing cloak and top hat, led to a maximum impact. Her rendering of the famous 'Vilja' was a wonder of vocal beauty and warmth."
- Ópera Actual (Spain), May/June 2000
"Frederica von Stade and Placido Domingo are the protagonists: he makes a Latin lover Count Danilo; she, always very beautiful, is the incarnation of radiant grace and sweetly childlike, amused and frivolous. To see her swirl around in her red Pontevedrian ankle boots, to hear her glide on the lazy cadences of this music that is both innocent and very erotic is simply an enchantment."
- Francesco M. Colombo, Corriere della Sera (Italy)
"... she delivered the famous 'Vilja' aria with warmth and consistency, and she continues to light up a stage whenever she enters."
- Shirley Fleming, New York Post
"Flicka, as everybody calls her, is as beautiful and adorable as ever - and in fine voice to boot. The title role of 'The Merry Widow' fits her like shrink-wrap, and when she made her entrance down a long, red staircase, I half expected the audience to jump to its feet and strike up a chorus of 'Who Can Turn the World on With Her Smile?'"
- Terry Teachout, Daily News
See the latest global reviews and articles about opera from around the world at The Opera Critic.
Stay in touch with Ms. Frederica von Stade
Matthew A. Horner
Carnegie Hall Tower, 152 West 57th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10019
Tel: 212 994 3500; Fax: 212 994 3550