Critics praise Angela Brower’s “polished, pristine” Cherubino in new recording of ‘Le nozze di Figaro’
“Singing the lovesick Cherubino with polished, pristine tone and tasteful ornamentation, American mezzo-soprano Angela Brower brings the rather foolish lad to life without either condescending to or overdoing efforts at conveying masculinity. Like Richard Strauss’s Octavian and Komponist, Mozart’s Cherubino was conceived as a soprano rôle, and Brower negotiates the tessitura with ease, maintaining an enchanting lightness even in moments of greatest dramatic duress.
As mentioned previously, the tempo for the Act One aria ‘Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio’ pushes Brower, but she pushes back, the frenzied excitement of the music reflected in her libidinous-frat-boy vocal acting. The control that she exhibits in sustaining the bel canto line in Cherubino’s Act Two arietta ‘Voi che sapete che cosa è amor’ adds psychological depth to Brower’s characterization, suggesting that he is capable at least occasionally of reasoning from a perspective above his belt. Her vocalism in the duettino with Susanna, ‘Aprite, presto, aprite,’ glistens, and she radiates adolescent awkwardness when interacting with Barbarina. Cherubino’s young heart palpitates for the Contessa, but there are so many enticing ladies of all ages and stations at the Conte’s court: how is a boy to devote himself to only one of them? Perhaps the root of the Conte’s dislike of Cherubino is his recognition of a kindred spirit and competitor in an environment with room for only a single ravenous philanderer. Brower’s Cherubino is a pawn in everyone’s games, but how attractive she makes being used sound!”
“Angela Brower, as Cherubino, deploys an appealing lyric mezzo of so bright a tinge that you could mistake her for a soprano. She nicely distinguishes her two arias: the bursts of sound that punctuate “Non so più” register as unruly hormonal disruptions, while the relative poise of “Voi che sapete” shows the page summoning his best manners in the presence of the Countess.”
Fred Cohn – Opera News
“The most rewarding individual contributions are Yoncheva’s Countess — both lively and stately — and the nimble, delicately shaded Cherubino of mezzo-soprano Angela Brower.”
Joshua Kosman – SFGate