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Biography  Sir Thomas Allen is an established star of the great opera houses of the world. He has sung over fifty roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; in 2012 he celebrated his 40th anniversary of his debut with the company. An acclaimed recitalist, he is equally renowned on the concert platform and has appeared with the world’s...read more

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Askonas Holt

Biography  Sir Thomas Allen is an established star of the great opera houses of the world. He has sung over fifty roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; in 2012 he celebrated his 40th anniversary of his debut with the company. An acclaimed recitalist, he is equally renowned on the concert platform and has appeared with the world’s...read more

Representation details:

Askonas Holt
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  • Repertoire (20)
Composer & WorkRoleProductions
Adès
The Exterminating AngelRoc2
Britten
Albert HerringStage director1
Donizetti
Don PasqualeStage director1
L'elisir d'amoreNo role1

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Reviews

Interpreters of Mozart’s music and Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto must convey these inherent tensions, which fluctuate between the comic and the tragic. Pittsburgh Opera’s “Cosi fan tutte,” which opened Saturday night at the Benedum Center, embraced the multifaceted character of the opera in a pared-down production that plumbed much of the opera’s depth. The estimable British baritone Sir Thomas Allen, who also portrayed Don Alfonso, directed the production. The soprano painted those interior emotions with a lively, expressive timbre, a natural music line and an even tone that supported her imaginative phrasing and stunning dynamic contrast. So tortured was this characterization that, by the end, one hoped she would end up with Ferrando, with whom she was more infatuated than the virile Guglielmo. As Ferrando, tenor Christopher Tiesi had an appealing, sweet timbre but did not match that emotional dimensionality. He struggled with the role’s highest notes and relied on vibrato where other expressive tools were needed. Mr. Allen, in his Pittsburgh Opera debut, carried himself with the sturdy confidence of Don Alfonso and also served as a thoughtful director. During the Act I quintet, right before the young officers departed, teary-eyed, for their regiment, Don Alfonso mocked the lovers from the other side of the stage, reminding the audience that the whole thing was a sham. In a comic delivery of Dorabella, former resident artist Jennifer Holloway offered a full, round tone, particularly in the upper register. Hadleigh Adams captured Guglielmo’s machismo with a gravelly, dark-hued timbre. As Despina, Sari Gruber gave amusing takes on the maid’s disguises, even if her voice could be tight in other moments. Music director Antony Walker conducted the lithe orchestra, with the continuo played on an upright piano.
ELIZABETH BLOOM
Smart staging and effective musical performances are wed in Pittsburgh Opera's delightful production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Cosi fan tutte,” which began a run of four performances Nov. 7 at the Benedum Center, Downtown. Allen sets the opera on an Italian beach and creates a breezy staging with lightness that disguises the nastiness of Alfonso's machinations. Alfonso's lesson in what Mozart subtitled “The School for Lovers” begins with the men called off to war. They return in costume as foreigners, Albanians, and successfully switch women for their romantic pursuits. Allen commanded the stage as Alfonso, a portrayal by turns elegant and decisive, and brimming with knowing details. His hand movements while speaking rapid Italian intensified the rhetoric. He cued musical details, even conducted a bit. His asides to himself (and the audience) were hilarious. And, at 71, his voice retains its smooth richness and still has plenty of power. Soprano Danielle Pastin, an alumna of the opera's resident artist program, gave a superb performance as Fiordiligi, the more principled of the two women. Mozart's great operas feature inspired and dramatically sympathetic music for his leading ladies, however difficult they are in the required vocal technique. Pastin rose to the challenge posed by Fiordiligi, which requires a soprano with a strong low register. The aria “Come scoglio” in the first act is filled with dramatic leaps up and down, which Pastin handled with aplomb except briefly in a passing note. She was even more effective in her second act aria, “Per pieta.” Mezzo soprano Jennifer Holloway, another resident artists program alum, was superb, too. Holloway conveyed Dorabella's more spirited personality, one more prone to flirtatiousness, with lively and beautifully centered vocalism. Hadleigh Adams, also making his debut, was delightful as Guglielmo, who is originally paired with Dorabella. He has an attractive, light baritone voice, nicely open on the top but undernourished on the bottom. Music director Antony Walker led a crisp and sensitive performance. The orchestra played with a natural singing style. The clarinet parts, which are unusually prominent in “Cosi” were exquisitely played, while the horns were not only excellent throughout but especially delightful in “Per pieta.”
MARK KANNY

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