La Sonnambula presented by Florida Grand Opera has just closed, and it was a defining experience for me. This was my first Amina, and I was fortunate enough to be directed in the role by legendary soprano Renata Scotto and led musically by the talented new music director in Miami, Ramon Tebar. The entire experience was incredibly positive and it all culminated in a wonderful opening night for all. Below are some highlights of the reviews I received for my performance. I sincerely hope I will have the opportunity to bring Amina to life again sometime soon.
By David Fleshier for South Florida Classical Review and The Miami Herald
"The star of the performance was the soprano Rachele Gilmore, a former FGO Young Artist from suburban Atlanta who has gone on to roles in the world’s leading opera houses. Dark-haired and petite, she sang with enormous vocal power, depth of feeling and beauty of tone, bringing the complete package to a role that requires both extreme virtuosity and a gift for the melodic long line.
The role of Amina not only requires the soprano to use every trick in the coloratura book, but for the singing to seem effortless, with no sign of strain impeding the flow of melody. Gilmore delivered on both counts, from the unforced high notes of the early aria Sovra il sen la man mi posa to the florid vocal embroidery that followed.
Gilmore enjoys some celebrity in the opera world for a 2009 performance at the Metropolitan Opera where she sang an A-flat above high C that many believe is the highest note ever sung on the Met stage. In her final aria Saturday night, the famous, elaborately ornamented Ah! non giunge uman pensiero, she sang a note that may well have been the highest ever heard at the Arsht Center opera house.
But as impressive as her speed and accuracy were, Gilmore’s greatest moment came not in one of the flashy soprano passages, but in the somber aria Ah! non credea mirarti. For this aria, she knelt in her white gown on the lip of the orchestra pit, spotlighted on the darkened stage, and expressed in heartfelt melody her sadness at the loss of her fiancée Elvino’s love."
By Bill Hirshman for Florida Theater on the Stage
You don’t have to be a musicologist or opera aficionado to recognize the stunning meld of emotion and technique in the artistry of Rachele Gilmore’s performance of the title role in Florida Grand Opera’s production of La Sonnambula.
When she falls to her knees at the front of the stage, picked out of the darkness by a few lights, and pours her heartache out over the orchestra into the audience, the utter silliness of the libretto vanishes and listeners are transfixed by the seamless transmission of heart and head.
Gilmore, who hit an A flat above high C in her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, is more than enough reason for an opera fan to scrape together the considerable cash needed to see this classic tale about a young woman whose impending marriage is sidelined by scandal because of her unconscious habit of sleepwalking.
While her technical virtuosity and vocal pyrotechnics are stunning throughout the sadistically wide range that Vincenzo Bellini wrote into the bel canto score, it is Gilmore’s infusion of passion, ranging from ecstatic joy to bottomless grief, that pushes her performance into another dimension.
Playing the simple country girl Amina, Gilmore exudes an innocence and purity in her singing and personality that seem an impossible fantasy in this century, but which she persuasively sells to back reaches of the orchestra seats.
By Jack Gardner for EDGE, Ft. Lauderdale
In the role of Amina, soprano Rachele Gilmore is absolutely divine. On top of her supermodel good looks, her high notes are crystal clear, her florid coloratura passages are pitch perfect and her stage presence is unsurpassed. She is an up-and-coming soprano of the highest caliber and is on her way to opera super-stardom.
Amina is an excellent role to show off the beauty and power of her voice and the flawlessness of her vocal technique. Her performance of the second act aria "Ah! Non credea mirarti" was tender and touching and her interpretation of the following cabaletta "Ah! Non giunge" had all of the vocal fireworks you could wish for.
It was, by far, the best evening of operatic singing that South Florida has witnessed in many years.
By Jeff Haller for Concerto Net
This is Amina's opera and in Rachele Gilmore, a star was made. The sensitivity and absolutely gorgeous sound made this potentially insipid character a sympathetic heroine. The opera's most famous number, “Ah! No credea mirati” has never sounded as moving and sad; immediately after Gilmore takes us into near musical comedy territory with “Ah! non giunge uman pensiero” offering all the good cheer that Scotto clearly intended. This is a soprano who will be around a long time; someone as accomplished as this is not common, and the world can't help but notice.