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Opera's Next Wave


Operas Next Wave Meade sm 812
Angela Meade as Elvira in Ernani at the Met, 2012
© Beth Bergman 2012

Audiences have hungered for a singer like Angela Meade for a long time. She's a genuine soprano drammatico d'agilità, and while she may not have a particularly dramatic temperament, there's no question that she has a voice to be reckoned with: it's beautiful, it's sizable, and it moves. Meade was born in Centralia, Washington, and studied at the University of Southern California and Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts. She arrived on the scene sounding like a winner, as she swept most of the major U.S. competitions. (She claims to have entered fifty-three in all, and she has won top prizes from the Met National Council, George London Foundation, Richard Tucker Music Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation and many others.) Recently Meade told Classic Talk, "I'm retired [from competitions] — there will be lots of singers happy to hear me say that." 

Although she has sung high-profile engagements such as the Met's Ernani and Anna Bolena, Meade does give a great deal of thought to pacing herself. Her European opera debut, in 2010, took place not in a huge theater but in Wexford Festival Opera's production of Mercadante's Virginia. And this summer, she sang Norma to Ruth Ann Swenson's Adalgisa at the out-of-the-way Astoria Music Festival in Oregon.

In today's opera world, dramatic verisimilitude is a hot topic. Meade's level of vocal prowess seems to exempt her from most discussions about looking the part. In interviews, she gives the impression of not having a nerve in her body, of having the sort of confidence that comes from a rock-solid technical command. Audiences can relax when she sings, knowing that there's very little that poses a vocal problem for her. Already she has become a kind of heroine for opera-lovers who place vocal standards well above theatrical ones. Meade's playing field certainly isn't overcrowded at the moment, and it looks as if there won't be much to stand in her way over the next ten years. For the immediate future, she's sticking with bel canto and early to middle Verdi roles. She's somewhat ambivalent about Wagner but would eventually like to sing both La Traviata and La Forza del Destinospacer 

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