Let us say it right away: the performance of the Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury is miraculous. In the fire of the live performance, all the imperfections which could be a bother in a recording become assets. We’re left open-mouthed with admiration: the infinite length of her breath, the science of chiaroscuro, her projection in the high register, the quality of her pianissimo, the variety of accents, by turns strong and vulnerable, included in the extraordinarily lively recits, like we haven’t heard them since Callas. As for the bewitching cantilena, no Imogene had reached such heights since Caballé!
“…the infinite length of the breath, the science of chiaroscuro, the projection of the treble, the quality of the pianissimi, the variety of accents, in turn authoritarian and vulnerable, including in extraordinarily lively recitatives, as we had not heard them since Maria Callas. As for the bewitching final cantilene (<<Col sorriso d’innocenza>>) no Imogene had reached such summits since Montserrat Caballé.”
The soprano Joyce ElKhoury interprets Imogene with a highly placed voice. Her limpid timber swells with emotion in the lower register and in the piano moments, with a thread like sound fleeing from her nearly closed mouth. In a palpitating finale, her acting talents, unbothered by any mise en scene, are shining: her eyes cry, hope, lose themselves and beg in the folly of a character too virtuous to live her illegitimate love, but too in love to live without him.
What we hear from the Canadian singer, perfectly at ease with the vocal poetic language of Italian romanticism, deserves more than respect. From her entrance aria to the great final scene immortalized by Callas [ ] Joyce El-Khoury holds herself consistently at the highest level of vocal and musical quality. To her aerial vocalism and her long Bellinian legato lines, she adds here a surprising foundation in the lower register, so often appealed to in this opera. It is a triumph largely deserved she receives at the bows.
As the heartbroken Liu, soprano Joyce El-Khoury pleads with him in “Signore, ascolta!” full of desperate pain and high ghostly notes so delicate they almost seem to disappear into the air. While still considered a supporting character, Liu remains a musical focus of the piece and becomes the tragic heroine, brilliantly handled by El-Khoury in “Tu che di gel sei cinta” as she makes her final sacrifice.
Here's the word from the twitter-sphere about Joyce's performances as Violetta in Glynebourne's La traviata: Amazing La Traviata at Glyndebourne yesterday. @JoyceSoprano was incredible. Great end to my 2017 season. Already looking forward to 2018. — Maggie C (@Maggie_C30) August 26, 2017 Birthday
Best of all, however, was Lebanese-Canadian soprano Joyce El-Khoury as Violetta. The role needs someone beautiful, with a sensational voice, slim build (so that the tuberculosis looks believable) and great acting skills, especially in the final despairing act and El-Khoury had all of those in abundance. I had seen her in the same role at the Royal Opera House earlier this year and was stunned by her performance. At Glyndebourne, it was even better with the deceptive simplicity of the sets accentuating the effectiveness and glory of her performance. Glyndebourne always tries hard to bring something special to its productions without ever overdoing it. In May, I had thought their La Traviata was as close to perfection as one could hope for. This time I thought it was, if anything, even better."
The reviews are coming in for San Diego Opera's Great Scott (Jake Heggie). Here are quotes highlighting Joyce's performance as Tatyana Bakst: The show’s scene-stealer is Joyce El-Khoury as the calculating soprano Tatyana Bakst. Her over-the-top coloratura rendition of “The