R e v i e w s

KABANICHA – KATY'A KABANOVA
Opera New Zealand, Auckland Wellington

Crucial to the production is the stylish and dominating Margaret Medlyn who shows, as she did in Jenufa, a deep understanding of Janacek’s world.

John Button, Dominion Post Oct 8 2017

"The brilliant Margaret Medlyn is the imperious matriarch, locked in her own chilling winter of the soul. She ruthlessly deals with her weak son, beautifully characterised by Andrew Glover, and Conal Coad,the husband who has sought refuge in bluster and booze after decadesof her tyranny."
William Dart, The New Zealand Herald  8 September 2017

RELICT FURIES: Gareth Farr
NZ Festival of the Arts  March 15 2015

I couldn't help thinking of Samuel Barber's ease with the voice – I could offer no higher praise – and Margaret Medlyn was all one could ask for as each of the three women.

John Button, Dominion Post March 15 2016

Margaret Medlyn gave a splendidly committed and impassioned performance, movingly tempered in places by a rapt sensitivity. 
Peter Mechen, Middle C

FRICKA – DIE WALKÜRE – NZSO (c) Pietari Inkinen 
Wellington 22 July, Christchurch 25 July, Auckland 28 July 2012

If Simon O'Neill was a master tale-teller in the first act, so was John Wegner's Wotan in the second, with his potted but poetic account of the story so far. Wagner's shrewd sense of psychology came out when a soul-weary Wotan had to fend off the bitter Fricka, played by Margaret Medlyn, appropriately fearsome to her last snapped consonant.

William Dart, The New Zealand Herald, 30 July 2012

Margaret Medlyn was effortless as Wotan’s sharp-tongued wife. Her acerbic singing and sharp steely appearance gave her ruthless intimidation of her husband a searing realism.
NBR July 28

Wellington's own Margaret Medlyn personified Fricka's fury as she swept on stage in a suitably imperial purple gown. Her voice was especially rich and dark in the lower register, where she almost growled at Wotan, giving us a passionate portrayal of a wronged wife who is unarguably right. Wegner's response when he couldn't out-argue her was to try to seduce her, and the sexual frisson between these two experienced actors was striking: we understood why she stays with him. 
Sharon Talbot, TheatreView, 24 July 2012

 

VERDI REQUIEM, NZSO (c) Pietari Inkinen 
Auckland 22 June, Christchurch 26 June, Dunedin 27 June, Wellington 29 June 2013

Medlyn, more relaxed in her original mezzo range, introduced a number of ensembles. A seasoned operatic singer, she caught the theatrical spirit of the composer, most notably in the Lacrimosa.

William Dart, NZ Herald, July 22 2013

Medlyn’s contrasting timbre between her solo work and the depth of resonance in ensemble and with bassoon obbligato was remarkable.
The Star,  July 4 2013

The mezzo part is the most unforgiving yet Margaret Medlyn found reserves of power and made this part much more significant that is often the case.
John Button, Dominion Post, June 29 2013

JENUFA
NBR New Zealand Opera 
Auckland 20, 23, 25, 27 Sep; Wellington 11, 14, 16 ,18 Oct 2008

Tenor Tom Randle is marvellous as the gauche but honourable Laca as is Anne Sophie Duprels as the much wronged but magnanimous Jenufa. But greatest of all is the Kostelnicka of Margaret Medlyn – Janácek could have written it with her in mind. She has done many fine things in the theatre, but this exceptionally powerful vocal and dramatic portrayal is her best yet, an emotionally torn woman whose maternal instincts conflict with the narrow-minded societal confines which she herself embodies, forcing her into a terrible act of infanticide. 
Roger Wilson, Capital Times, 15 October 2008

The cast is uniformly superb but it is the mother, Kostelnicka, of Margaret Medlyn that is the pivot around which the opera spins. There was never any doubt the vocal demands would be met, but it was gratifying to experience a character completely believable who, while we might disapprove of her actions, elicits our understanding, if not our sympathy.
John Button, Dominion Post , 13 October 2008

MARGARET MEDLYN’S KOSTELNICKA STOLE THE SHOW. This was a tour de force for the soprano.
William Dart, NZ Herald, 22 September, 2008

Lehnhoff requires the role of the overbearing Kostelinicka to be played with a high degree of restraint, never allowing her to descend into theatrical ranting and raving. Of course it requires a great singer to be able to pull this off and in Margaret Medlyn the company had an ideal interpreter. Medlyn's voice is perfectly suited to the part, with her rich, powerful middle register combining with her secure top to provide a musically visceral account of the role. Add to that her restless acting style and the result was A NEAR FLAWLESS PERFORMANCE that was both chilling and uplifting at the same time. 
Michael Sinclair (2008), theoperacritic.com

The opera's Czech title, which translates as "Her Stepdaughter" reflects more accurately the equal importance of the role of the Kostelnicka, the tortured figure who chooses to protect her family by a horrible deed, murdering Jenufa's illegitimate baby to shield them all from the claustrophobically judgemental villagers. MARGARET MEDLYN IS QUITE AMAZING IN THIS ROLE. Her shining vocal performance is only an extension of her amazing dramatic sense, and the second and third acts are almost completely dominated by her, despite the strong international cast.
Larry Jenkins, gaynz.com, 25 September 2008 [Full review]

KOSTELNICKA WAS SUNG BY MARGARET MEDLYN WHO gives the part a density that anchors the whole opera. She captures the character’s loathing for Steva, agony over Jenufa and despair at her own predicament.
John Daly-Peoples, NBR, 22 September, 2008

THE ENGINE ROOM OF JENUFA is her stepmother, the Kostelnicka (church warden) Buryja and as performed by Margaret Medlyn, she is magnificent...
Diana SImmonds, Stagenoise 23 September 2008

BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE
Vector Wellington Orchestra, Marc Taddei 
Wellington Town Hall, 6 September 2008

A SENSATIONAL PERFORMANCE. Margaret Medlyn and Paul Whelan were perfectly cast, both giving us riveting singing, fully inside all aspects of this most effective of psychodramas. Both projected with enormous power, clearly able to ride Bartok's huge orchestra. 
John Button, The Dominion Post, 8 Sep 2008

Auckland Philharmonia / NBR New Zealand Opera
Auckland Town Hall, 25 May 2006

MARGARET MEDLYN IS IDEALLY SUITED TO THE ROLE OF JUDITH, one that is a huge challenge for any mezzo. Medlyn's stage presence and in particular her facial expressions tellingly depicted the secrets behind each door and her feelings as the horrors are revealed. This combined with her rich middle register and gleaming top notes gave us an interpretation to remember. Her final look at Bluebeard was mesmerising.
Michael Sinclair 2006, theoperacritic.com

SALOME
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, 
Auckland Town Hall, 18 April, 2008

MARGARET THE MAGNIFICENT
Dressed in gleaming gold, Margaret Medlyn as Salome was magnificent in every way. She may have just been crushed to death at Herod’s orders, battered into submission by Richard Strauss’ fortissimo timpani and bass drums, but by the end of her performance the packed Auckland Town Hall was drooling at her feet – or, to be more factually correct for a moment, standing and thumping out its applause.
I’ve always felt a slightly measured respect for Medlyn’s singing before, but this was different; Salome, it seemed, had been written for her and Auckland had been right to wait 103 years until she was ready to sing it to us.
It is a wild, extraordinary role, calling for every aspect of the singer’s vocal and acting arts; she has to be naive, innocent, beguiling, seductive, cold, imperious and, of course, ultimately quite mad. It’s all in Strauss’ extraordinary music and Medlyn’s rare level of musicianship and stamina had it all. Perhaps there were a few high notes at first that sounded strained, but in a performance like this who cares? After the Dance of the Seven Veils, Medlyn sang the final scene sounding as fresh and vibrant as ever.
She sang without a score, giving this concert presentation as much action as possible – moving, gesturing and even slumping in her chair like a sulking teenager when Herod tried to persuade her away from her demented demands for the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) in a silver charger.
Rod Biss, NZ Listener, April 26-May 2 2008 

TURANDOT
NBR New Zealand Opera 
Auckland 22-29 Sep; Wellington 13, 16 ,18, 20 Oct 2007 

THE VOCAL AND DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT IS MARGARET MEDLYN’S IN THE TITLE ROLE … from the moment she opens her mouth to sing a totally gripping In questa reggia, every moment she is on stage belongs to her. She is not afraid to let her voice be unlovely, which merely makes it even more gripping. Her portrayal of a woman who wants to lose and break the cycle of death is subtle and believable. … this is a Turandot not to be missed. 
Paul Little, Sunday Star Times, 23 September, 2007

WHEN TURANDOT TAKES TO THE STAGE IN ACT 2, the whole shape and feel of the performance changes. Looking for all the world like Joan Crawford, Margaret Medlyn commands attention from her first entrance to the tumultuous conclusion. She is a singer who inhabits roles, in a similar way that Callas did. You simply cannot take your eyes off her when she is on-stage, refusing to look at Calaf initially, indignant in defeat and ultimately melting as she discovers love. This is opera acting of the highest quality. … she fits this production to perfection and her commitment never ceases to impress. … Margaret Medlyn's Turandot will remain in the mind for a long time. 
Michael Sinclair (2007), http://theoperacritic.com

THIS IS TURANDOT'S REALM AND MARGARET MEDLYN MAKES IT HER DOMAIN. It is a triumph for the soprano, from her first casual stroll past the doomed Prince of Persia. Alden had drawn a picture of a trance-bound heroine, desperately channeling from the past, surrounded by an invisible shield. Medlyn catches this from the first stratospheric phrases of her In questa reggiabut, as the opera progresses and passions warm, her icy demeanour melts. 
William Dart, Weekend Herald, 22 September, 2007

MARGARET MEDLYN…DONNED THE ROLE AS IF IT WAS CREATED FOR HER. The singing was transcendent, full of nuance, possessed of great beauty of tone, and powerfully delivered like a laser. In the opening bars one was reminded of one of the greats, Birgit Nilsson, but this was no slavish attempt to recreate a sound, only a measure of how the singer has truly arrived in this repertory. In Questa Reggia was deeply moving in the passage where Turandot tells why she is revenging her ancestress's violation. The riddles were like gauntlets, thrown down with fierce pride and assurance, and her meltingly lyrical singing in Act III in the love duet was convincing in what must be the most difficult part of the opera for the soprano to make so.
Larry Jenkins, 21 September 2007

AS PRINCESS TURANDOT, MARGARET MEDLYN IS STRIKINGLY INTENSE, both in appearance and voice. The depth of her performance, as Calaf solves her three riddles, is riveting. She portrays Turandot with just the right balance of theatricality, emotion and intelligence. 
Kate Ward-Smythe, 22 Sep 2007

KUNDRY, Parsifal 
International Festival of the Arts (c) Anthony Negus, March 2006 
MARAGRET MEDLYN’S KUNDRY IS TRULY WORLD CLASS. The role sits ideally for her voice and her commanding stage presence and acting abilities combine to bring the multi-faceted Kundry to life. Her scenes with Parsifal in Act 2 were a tour de force, moving from seductress to venom spitting charlatan with spine chilling authority. 
Michael Sinclair (2006), http://theoperacritic.com

KUNDRY, Parsifal 
State Opera South Australia, (c) Jeffrey Tate, October 2001
MARAGRET MEDLYN was the superb female lead as the enigmatic and tragic Kundry. … The highlight of the evening was the long passionate scene of seduction and rejection between Kundry and Parsifal, with (Poul) Elming and Medlyn perfectly paired and both in magnificent voice." 
Tristram Cary, The Australian

MARGARET MEDLYN displayed a full palette of colours and toning for the repertoire of voices required. … She spellbound her audience as her attempted seduction of Parsifal moved through every emotion from the maternal to the voluptuous. Her animal cries and incantations embellished a musical intelligence that held firm throughout. 
Humphrey McQueen, The Bulletin

SALOME
Brisbane Festival 2006
THE MOST REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE NIGHT WAS THAT OF SOPRANO MARGARET MEDLYN… Obviously totally familiar with the part [of Richard Strauss’s Salome] and able to negotiate its extreme technical and emotional demands with ease, she gave no sign at all that she had not actually been able to rehearse with the orchestra. The part demands that the role of a psychotic teenager be played by a mature singer with a voice that can carry over an orchestra. There are all kinds of obvious impediments to the concept being brought off successfully.  Medlyn triumphed over them all.”
James Harper, Brisbane Courier Mail, July 2006

SALOME 
Opera Australia 2003 
SOPRANO MARGARET MEDLYN IS IN MIGHTY VOICE throughout her marathon performance in the title role, and her final scene, with John’s severed head, is a triumph of ghastly, lascivious tenderness. 
Neil Jillett,  The Sunday Age,  Nov 2003

MARIE, Wozzeck 
Opera Australia, (C) Gabor Otvos, November 2000
"MARIE FINDS A WORTHY INTERPRETER IN MARAGRET MEDLYN. The power of her dynamic is impressive in her first appearance and there is a sensitivity in her scenes with (Jonathan) Summers that is a finely judged echo of the composer’s intent. At the role’s greatest moment, the Bible reading that opens Act 3, Medlyn gives one of the work’s most charged scenes an excellent exposition.  
David Gyger, Opera Opera
The production is memorable for the quality of its music-making. Margaret Medlyn as Marie sings the first lullaby and the countervailing New Testament reading of Act 3 sweetly and movingly. She has just the right balance of vulnerability and raunchiness. 
John Slavin, The Age

MADDELINA, Andrea Chenier
Opera Queensland, Conductor Peter Robinson
October 2002
Margaret Medlyn was absolutely at home in this robust female role. … The partnership of (Julian) Gavin and Medlyn was exemplary and lay at the core of the success of this OQ season. 
David Gyger, Opera Opera
Gavin and Medlyn were a musical power force. 
Emma Nelms, Media Culture Reviews
Gavin and Medlyn’s duet … is simply other worldly … it’s this kind of experience that makes opera worthwhile.
John Henningham, Opera Opera

LEONORE, Il Trovatore 
Opera Australia 2004, Opera Queensland 2000, State Opera South Australia 1999
Margaret Medlyn, as Leonora, flares with passion.
Ewart Shaw, Adelaide Advertiser
… her voice seemed to be made from silk.
Tom Shankey, Opera Opera
All four roles were finely cast … the clear soprano of Margaret Medlyn as Leonora, whose Di tale amor in Scene 2 was a stunningly rendered declaration of love.
Tristram Carey, The Australian

© 2019 Margaret Medlyn