OP3033. 27 (An Opera in Five Acts [Ricky Ian Gordon]), Live Performance, 2014, w.Michael Christie Cond. Opera Company of St Louis; Stephanie Blythe, Elizabeth Futral, Theo Lebow, Tobias Greenhalgh & Daniel Brevik. 2-Troy 1549/50. - 034061154921
"'Twenty-Seven' takes listeners into the world of Gertrude Stein's famous salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris; it's fast and flirty, embodying the urbane characters of Stein's historic gatherings, where Fitzgerald, Picasso, Matisse and Hemingway were regulars."
- Oussama Zahr, OPERA NEWS, Oct., 2013
“The Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ production of Ricky Ian Gordon’s new ‘27’ gives a touchingly poetic glimpse of the parade of artists and writers that punctuated the everyday life that Stein led with her life-partner and assistant, Alice B. Toklas, in their Parisian home at 27 rue de Fleurus....featuring stellar performances by Stephanie Blythe as Stein and Elizabeth Futral as Toklas, the opera consists of 90 minutes – a prologue and five brief acts in one continuous flow – of the natural, tender lyricism for which Gordon has become known through song cycles and operas....Blythe and Futral are extraordinarily convincing....Gordon’s musical style is highlighted by melodism that strives toward the best of American opera. It is marvelously grateful to the voice: it’s no coincidence that major singers clamor to perform his music. His accessible harmonic language is sufficiently complex and sophisticated so as to set it several notches above musical theater."
- Paul Horsley, Classical Voice North America
“Carnegie Hall is no place for cabaret songs, an art form that thrived in Parisian cafes and Berlin nightclubs. Yet, on Friday the mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who can do anything, turned Carnegie’s 2,800-seat… Auditorium into her personal cabaret haunt, ably assisted by the stylish pianist Warren Jones.
Ms. Blythe, who boasts one of the most powerful voices in opera, might not seem suited to the Jacques Brel cabaret classics and witty Noël Coward theater songs she performed. But even in her big Verdi and Wagner roles she sings with vocal ease and no trace of forcing. This quality carried through excitingly in her concert-hall approach to Brel’s ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’. Ms. Blythe delivered the first lines as quietly distraught utterings, then allowed her sound to expand as this wrenching song — a desperate plea by a person for a restless lover not to leave — grew in vehemence. The performance, uncannily, was at once intimate and operatic.
Ms. Blythe’s program examined some mid-20th-century works that resulted from stylistic mingling of chanson, cabaret and theater common at the time, beginning with Poulenc’s ‘Poèmes de Ronsard’. She then offered two darkly lilting songs by the neglected French composer Léo Ferré, musical settings of Baudelaire poems. Ms. Blythe’s luxurious singing enhanced the art-song elements of these works.
Still, words mattered most in her performances of these text-driven songs. Ms. Blythe explained that she and Mr. Jones chose not to include translations of the French lyrics in the printed program. ‘We want to be able to look at your gorgeous faces’, she told her listeners.
Instead, they took turns speaking the translations in advance. That her unamplified recitations carried well and were vividly dramatic said much about why her singing is so compelling. She even read in advance the English texts for Britten’s ‘Cabaret Songs’. And it proved helpful to hear the chatty lyrics first without the music.
In her final encore, a beguiling account of Irving Berlin’s ‘Always’, Ms. Blythe invited her adoring audience to sing along, which many did, as she beamed while joining in.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 MAY, 2015