Handel: Joseph and his Brethren

…That’s when Sherezade Panthaki decided to kick everything up another notch. Maybe three.

In a single aria, the aptly titled “Prophetic raptures swell my breast,” the soprano gave the audience in Herbst Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 14, the kind of magical musical experience we will be remembering and revisiting for years. It was an electrifying, gorgeous display of strong but crystalline tone, sinuous phrasing, astonishing pyrotechnics, and high notes followed by higher notes.

The aria was as varied as it was brilliant — now calling for shimmery, intimate melody, now for brightly athletic coloratura. And it went on and on, as if each artistic climax were simply a new challenge to be outdone, a test of how much beauty and virtuosity could be packed into several minutes’ worth of music.

When it was over, the audience burst into frenzied and extended applause, an admixture of thrilled exhaustion. Until that moment, we had been politely holding our expressions of appreciation until the end of individual acts, but it was obvious to everyone in the hall that this was not the time to stand on ceremony.

Panthaki has thankfully become a regular presence in Philharmonia concerts over the past few years, but — as with the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson before her — it becomes increasingly difficult to find words that will adequately convey the multifold splendor of her singing. It is full-bodied and rich in coloration, yet her phrases move with all the litheness and grace of a dancer.

She reaches notes that other singers can only eye with envy, and does so with effortless precision. She tears through the most demanding passagework without batting an eye or missing a beat. Her diction is flawless. She’s a phenomenon, and only getting more marvelous with each passing year.

–SF Gate (Joshua Kosman), December 2017

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Handel: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day

…the evening’s chief glory was the radiant singing of soprano Sherezade Panthaki — a breathtaking combination of expressive ardor, tonal clarity, technical mastery and dramatic vividness.

Panthaki has been a regular guest with Philharmonia in recent years, and her appearances are always cause for celebration. But even by those lofty standards, this was one for the books.

She endowed Handel’s phrases with a nobility that did nothing to lessen their communicative grace. She negotiated the long and sometimes awkward melodic leaps that are scattered throughout the score without missing or fudging a note, yet she did it with enough fluidity that the effect never seemed angular. And her tone — lush, focused, full of iridescent colorings — was exquisite throughout.

Cecilia herself could only have been proud.

–SF Gate (Joshua Kosman), December 2015

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Panthaki often sang with straight tone, a drier low range, and astounding, gleaming-like-a-knife strength on top. An odd vocal match with Bell in the duet, to be sure, but oh so enjoyable as her character flirted seductively with Bell, and he could not help but blush with bemusement.

When she sang solo in praise of St. Cecilia, Panthaki’s sincerity was palpable, and her trill superb. In her “soft complaining flute” duet with flawless flautist Stephen Schultz, she may have chosen to leave all softness to the instrument, but her rise to the top of her range was marvelous. Of special note was her perfect, non-showy, rapid coloratura in the air, “Orpheus could lead the savage race.” Hers is not a virginal sound, but when she and the chorus sang, “The trumpet shall be heard on high,” like a trumpet she did resound.

–San Francisco Classical Voice, December 2015

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The Ode is a vocal work which Handel penned for a favorite soprano but it is doubtful whether she was more expressive than Sherezade Panthaki, whose radiant rendering of “What passion cannot music raise and quell” was nothing less than magisterial.

–Financial Times, December 2015

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Rameau: Les Indes Galantes

The saving grace of this concert was soprano Sherezade Panthaki, who brought a silky legato tone and impeccable intonation to the role of the Indian princess, Zima. In her final showpiece, “Regnez, Plaisirs et Jeux,” she had more than enough sound to fill the hall with a laser-like precision. The embellishments added to the final section were brilliant, including a polished high note at the end.

–Washington Classical Review, June 2017

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The soprano Sherezade Panthaki poured her generous, golden sound into the part of Zima, and her joyful duet in the final scene with the clarion baritone Victor Sicard, as Adario, was radiant.

–The New York Times, June 2017

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Haydn: L’isola disabitata

There is little doubt, however, that Soprano Sherezade Panthaki had stolen the show, with her acting as well as her singing. The part itself demands much in the way of range and dynamics, but more in the way of emotional variance. Being the most innocent, Silvia embodies a kind of “wild child” phenomenon; she drifts from unfettered joy to intense compassion, fear, lust, and love, all within the comparatively short operatic timeframe of 90 minutes. In this sense, Panthaki’s awe-inspiring performance had infused an operetta-class production with opera-class quality, and her arias likewise seemed to elevate the audience [temporarily] above the comic gags, and to supply the narrative with most of its emotional weight.

–Classicalite, February 2016

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Sherezade Panthaki’s Silvia was marvelous: the full evolution of her character was reflected in singing that moved from light sweetness to exuberant, vigorous sensuality. In her artistry, Panthaki made her Silvia a young woman with neither inhibition nor fear; Panthaki took every possible risk with Haydn’s music and made it all feel like happiness in the process of being discovered.

–, March 2016

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As Sylvia, Ms. Panthaki owned the central stretch of this two-act opera, singing with radiant tone and a brilliant upper register that thrilled the audience. Haydn’s wit and sparkle was lavished on this character, who arrived on the island as a baby and grew up an innocent. Mr. Crawford injected wit and spark;e into the orchestral accompaniment. One could feel the composer’s sympathy with her character’s comic plight, a welcome contrast to the gloomy, suicidal attitude of her sister.

–Superconductor Classical and Opera, February 2016

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Vivaldi: Gloria

…a later solo showcase allowed Panthaki to display her full, luxuriously toned upper range.

–Los Angeles Times, August 2017

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Calgary Bach Festival

No one in attendance will forget the radiant, pure singing of Sherezade Panthaki, an Anna Netrebko of baroque music. With a beautiful, clear voice, perfect tuning, and unstoppable virtuosity, she was impressive in everything she sang, from heartfelt arias by Stefani and Kuhnau to the Italianate eloquence of Bach’s solo cantata Non sa che sia dolore and the final Stabat Mater of Pergolesi in its Bach transcription.

–Edmonton Journal, May 2015

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Handel: L’allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato

The delightful dances outnumber the penseroso passages, the greatest of which is the echo-duet of the nightingales (Maile Okamura, Lauren Grant) accompanied by the ravishing voice of Sherezade Panthaki, whose high notes bloom in out-of-this-world radiance.

–The Bay Area Reporter, March 2016

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Handel, Lully, Rameau with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

The programme began with Handel’s Laudate Pueri Dominum, a celebratory cantata he wrote while in Rome. The virtuosic work was operatic in its demands on the soloist, orchestra and choir. Soprano Sheherezade [sic] Panthaki had breathtaking technique in her melismatic sections and her voice soared in its upper range…Once again Panthaki, Gagné and Woody both in solos and together, demonstrated why they are each in demand internationally for historically informed performances; they sang with intelligence, virtuosity and expressiveness.

– Toronto Concert Reviews, November 2016

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With the backing of the full Tafelmusik Orchestra, the evening offered an early dramatic work of George Frideric Handel (1865-1759), Laudate pueri, composed in Rome, probably in 1706, before the young German composer moved to England. The soloist is soprano Sherezade Panthaki, who was a treat the whole evening.In Tafelmusik’s early years, back when musicians were still finding their sea legs in the alternate universe of period performance, it was smaller voices that dominated. They were characterised by their pure, vibrato-free sound. And, just as the choir itself has grown in its ability to sing out a wider ranger of colours and textures, Panthaki demonstrated how bigger, lusher voices can also dance nimbly around the technical requirements of Baroque runs and musical ornaments.

–Musical Toronto, November 2016

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Panthaki was especially fine, with a surprisingly powerful voice in her upper range, and a fine sense of articulation and phrasing to go with it.

–The Globe and the Mail, November 2016

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Two characters became clear to me in a way they weren’t in 1996: the paradoxical Sorceress, whose hatred of delight delights us, and Belinda, Dido’s confidante. As danced by the motherly Michelle Yard and sung by the richly resonant Sherezade Panthaki, Belinda was the story’s rock, the beneficent spirit who enables not only the evening’s joy but Morris’ shattering close.

–Chicago Tribune, April 2016

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Rameau, Clérambault Cantatas

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki was outstanding, singing solo cantatas by Bach and his contemporaries Nicolas Clérambault and Jean-Philippe Rameau….Ms. Panthaki displayed a voice well focused and wonderfully agile, riding her rapid vibrato up and down passagework and trills with admirable fluency, and combining brilliance with a dark, plumlike tone.

–The Wall Street Journal, May 2015

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J.S. Bach: St. Matthew Passion

“…the luminous soprano Sherezade Panthaki floated her arias with pure, penetrating tone, mining deep emotion from the subtle shaping of the lines.”

– The New York Times, May 2011

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“Sherezade Panthaki’s crystalline singing and deeply felt interpretations left me wishing that Bach had provided another soprano aria or two.”

– St. Louis Post Dispatch, March 2012

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“In an auspicious Bach Festival debut, soprano Sherezade Panthaki used her flute-like voice with shimmering sensitivity.”

– Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 2012

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Handel: Messiah

The amazing singer in the group was soprano Sherezade Panthaki, a modern day Emma Kirkby, with astonishing coloratura and radiant top notes. Her vocal focus tight and precise, she sang Handel’s difficult music as if it were totally easy, including the fastest Rejoice Greatly I have ever heard in which the runs were actually articulated. Here, it was the violins who had to look to their laurels to survive the blitz of speed.

Calgary Herald, December 2013

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But the knockout soloist was soprano Sherezade Panthaki. Her purity, dexterity and sheer lyricism lifted her above the others, as in her lovely “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

–San Antonio Express, April 2015

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“Perhaps not surprisingly, the best of the vocal soloists on Thursday night was soprano Sherezade Panthaki, a rising star in the early-music world. Over the years, she’s performed with such renowned Baroque interpreters as Nicholas McGegan and William Christie. The quality of her experience came through in every one of her performances with the NSO. In such airs as “Rejoice Greatly” and “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” Panthaki sang with a bright, pure and powerful sound, produced with minimal vibrato in perfect period fashion. She tossed off difficult melismatic passages with seeming ease. Her top notes were positively translucent.”

– Arts Nashville
December 2012

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…[within] an ensemble of supple-voiced, dramatically engaging soloists, radiant-voiced soprano Sherezade Panthaki [was] a standout…
– The Washington Post, December 2007
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American Opera Theatre: ‘Messiah’
By Joe Banno
The Washington Post, Washington D.C.
December 10, 2007

American Opera Theatre’s staging of Handel’s “Messiah” at Georgetown University’s striking new Gonda Theatre on Saturday was not the first time the work’s been staged in America, as the company claims — Millennial Arts Productions in New York mounted a theatrical version in 1999 — but it was likely a Washington first. Not everything made cogent sense, but director Timothy Nelson’s ambition to wrestle this oratorio into something viably dramatic was admirable.

In Part 1, on a stage littered with torn-out Bible pages — and lit gorgeously by Kel Millionie — an ensemble of supple-voiced, dramatically engaging soloists (radiant-voiced soprano Sherezade Panthaki a standout) was introduced as a set of recognizable contemporary types — confused yuppie, evangelical proselytizer, crazy homeless guy spouting doomsday predictions, etc. But as Parts 2 and 3 progressed, with their preponderance of contemplative text over actable narrative, the attempt to weave a story with these characters was replaced with the pacing, posing and semaphoric gesturing familiar from the last 30 years of postmodern theatre. It was an interesting notion to have the cast bludgeon and crucify a smug Advent-calendar angel later in the production. But that pesky, reverential text kept contradicting Nelson’s impulses, and he didn’t find the ironic tone that might’ve sold his grim, disaffected “Hallelujah” Chorus.

As a conductor, Nelson was far more convincing, drawing lithe and lovely phrasing from the 16-member GU Chamber Singers and ear-teasingly pungent work from a 10-piece period-instrument orchestra.
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Handel: Apollo and Dafne

Sherezade Panthaki’s soprano, as Daphne, was also strong yet delectably sweet. Her opening aria, a celebration of an unfettered soul and an unattached heart, was a thing of special beauty with its accompaniment of pizzicato strings and soaring recorder, gorgeously played by Priscilla Herreid.

–The New York Times, September 2016

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Handel: Acis and Galetea

Thomas Cooley (Acis) and Sherezade Panthaki (Galatea) brought great technical skill and musicality to the title roles… Panthaki possessed a focused, shimmering tone. In Galatea’s “Must I My Acis Still Bemoan,” Panthaki stood alone on the pitch-black stage in opera’s only still moment; yet the stark visual contrast was touchingly simple and Panthaki’s penetrating voice held the audience rapt.

–, May 2014

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Sherezade Panthaki soared effortlessly as Galatea…

– Boston Classical Review, May 2014

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Leading the cast was soprano Sherezade Panthaki as Galatea, a regular Philharmonia soloist who outdid herself in a performance of cool tonal beauty and technical precision; her Act 1 aria “As when the dove,” with its showy vocal leaps, was the embodiment of effortless grace.

– SFGate, April 2014

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Johannes Brahms: Requiem

…The performance included two superb vocal soloists in baritone Brett Polegato and soprano Sherezade Panthaki. Panthaki was in Calgary for Messiah in December, and everyone who heard her was looking forward to her return. Her performance of the beautiful fifth movement was, if anything, more radiant than her previous performance, her voice perfect for the part in tone and amplitude. Managing the challenging tessitura of the music with elegance and no evident strain, she sang this difficult music as well as I have heard it live, achieving a transcendent quality as her voice soared over the orchestra. Still a young singer, she has a great future.

– The Calgary Herald, February 2017

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John Scott conducted a taut, briskly paced and moving interpretation, enhanced by the singing of the two soloists; in particular Ms. Panthaki, with her radiant, deeply expressive soprano.

– The New York Times, November 2012

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Soprano Sherezade Panthaki and baritone Joshua Hopkins gave concertgoers some of the best music of the evening. Panthaki, who has a reputation for specializing in early music and has appeared at past Bach Festivals, was living proof of advice she gave a student the day before: “No matter what kind of music you’re singing, good vocal technique is good vocal technique.” Panthaki transcended technical brilliance, and her Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit was earnest and comforting.

–Cool Cleveland, April 2017

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Bach: Mass in B minor

Sherezade Panthaki’s rich soprano excelled in the operatic “Laudamus te.”

–Oregon Register-Guard, June 2016

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Sir John Tavener: The Last Discourse Cantatas

…another miracle was born in the soprano voice of Sherezade Panthaki.

I had heard her before in both Bach and Mendelssohn, and have never ever forgotten the purity, the almost unearthly beauty of Ms. Panthaki’s voice. Not only is her vocal line clear, chaste and with consummate perfection, but in the areas of this complex work where she must suddenly rise to the highest notes, it was accomplished without effort but seemingly an inevitable movement. In vocal terms, hers is a force of nature.

–, March 2016

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Johann Ludwig Bach: Trauermusik

…soprano Sherezade Panthaki…sounded her usual note of vigorous vocal beauty.

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J.S. Bach: Magnificat and Cantata 63 “Christen aetzet”

“…soprano Sherezade Panthaki was the most moving singer of the evening for me, displaying consummate musicianship and a fully invested expressivity.”

– San Francisco Classical Voice, December 2012

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“Panthaki’s full-throated voice was in top form, balancing nuance against strength. Paired with Burton for much of the evening, she complemented him beautifully. .”

– Stark Insider, December 2012

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G. F. Handel: Saul

Sherezade Panthaki’s Michal was glorious, her clear, crystalline soprano piercing Koerner Hall, making her character come alive in her purity and goodness.

–The Globe and Mail, February 2014

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Panthaki’s stage presence and voice had listeners relishing every embellishment and line. … [She] embued these demanding parts with artistry that belied [her] young years. Jay Carter (David) was in strong voice throughout, and the love duet between him and Panthaki was the oratorio’s highlight.

– Kansas City Metropolis, June 2011
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An oratorio of biblical proportions
By Lee Hartman
Kansas City Metropolis
Published: June 7, 2011

With its performance of “Saul,” Musica Vocale puts forth a kingly effort. However it was the combined efforts of the soloists that truly reigned.

Musica Vocale packed the J.C. Nichols Auditorium with a standing-room only crowd on Sunday for a performance of Handel’s Saul that echoed many recent performances in the metro area. The three-hour-long dramatic oratorio calls for multiple soloists, choir, and orchestra. Thankfully, it also has an intriguing plot that follows the biblical story of Saul and his jealousy over that young up-start, David.

Arnold Epley’s group performed another retelling of the David story last year with Arthur Honegger’s King David, and the Friends of Chamber Music recently hosted Boston Early Music Festival’s production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Attending those two performance greatly enhanced my enjoyment of Saul because of the similar story and similar structure, respectively—although, admittedly, da capo aria after da capo aria does become tiresome and predicable.

The soloists were equally matched and wonderful. Douglas Williams (Saul), who audiences may remember from Acis and Galatea, was even stronger in this role. A shining moment occurred in numbers 66 and 67, just before the end of Act II, which required Williams to go from raging against perceived insolence to sweetly charming in the space of a few notes. Saul’s daughters, Michal and Merab, were portrayed by Sherezade Panthaki and Estelí Gomez. Both were perfectly cast. Panthaki’s stage presence and voice had listeners relishing every embellishment and line. Gomez had the flashier of the two roles, playing the spiteful daughter. As such, she was called upon for the rapid scales and flourishes and other coloratura Baroque techniques, which her nimble voice handled ably. Though a high soprano, her Air “Capricious man, in humour lost” called for extensive use of her surprisingly rich lower register. Both embued these demanding parts with artistry that belied their young years. Jay Carter (David) was in strong voice throughout, and the love duet between him and Panthaki was the oratorio’s highlight. Andrew Childs’s Jonathan had the least amount of stage time, but his Air “Sin not, O King” was his best of the afternoon.

The chorus bookended the acts with commentary on the proceedings. They truly shined in the fifth and final scene of the third act. “Mourn, Israel” was beautiful in its simplicity, especially on the successive entries of voices on the final five “mourns.” “Gird on thy sword” showed all the early marks of the Messiah’s “Hallelujah.”

The orchestra had its moments throughout the afternoon, both sublime and not so. The trombone and continuo keyboard playing was routinely fine, but intonation issues plagued the rest of the sections. Epley also seemed more comfortable conducting the vocalists than the orchestra. Tempos were not immediately locked in causing many a rocky start and transition and most unfortunately, called for one of the numbers to be restarted. Violinist Beth Titterington saved the day on “Capricious man, in humour lost” when principal second violinist Monty Carter’s E-string broke as she quickly passed off her violin to him so that he could finish his complicated accompaniment. As the oratorio progressed energy seemed to lag throughout, at over three hours it is understandable but still undesirable.

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Carl Orff: Carmina Burana

“Soprano Sherezade Panthaki sang with clarity and strength, with crystalline top notes in her most tender aria.”

– Houston Chronicle, May 2012

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German Baroque Music, 4×4 Festival, New York City, August 2010

On her own, Ms. Panthaki gave an exquisitely supple account of “Ach Herr, lass deine lieben Engelein” (“Oh Lord, Let Your Dear Cherubim”) by Franz Tunder, Buxtehude’s predecessor as organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck).

– The New York Times, August 2010
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4×4 Music Festival, German Baroque

German Sounds Both Familiar and Not Quite So
Published: August 27, 2010

In its annual run of four free concerts, the 4×4 Baroque Music Festival offers an inviting balance of the familiar and the arcane, and in its opening concert, on Thursday evening at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, rarities held the spotlight. The program, directed from the organ by Avi Stein, picked up on a subject the group explored pleasingly last summer — the music of German composers in the generation before Johann Sebastian Bach, including the work of an illustrious cousin, Johann Christoph Bach.

For the sake of context, a work of Johann Sebastian’s was included as well, but not a frequently traveled one: Mr. Stein’s choice was the early Cantata No. 18, “Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt” (“Just as the Rain and Snow Fall From Heaven”), a peculiarly built work with a dark-hued, viola-dominated opening Sinfonia and a series of recitatives punctuated by brief, bright choruses.

Johann Christoph Bach’s “Ach, dass is Wassers gnug hätte” (“Oh, That I Had Tears Enough in My Head”) proved the evening’s clear highlight. Ryland Angel, a countertenor, sang the chromatic vocal line with a focused emotional intensity that suited the text, a lament about weeping over the weight of one’s sins.

Mr. Stein and company began with Buxtehude’s “Wachet auf,” a more outgoing, varied setting than the familiarly flowing, measured Bach chorale. Buxtehude’s comparatively florid version is for solo voices — two sopranos (Elizabeth Baber and Sherezade Panthaki) sing sections of the first verse, and a bass (Steven Hrycelak) performs the second — with a richly blended trio in the last.

On her own, Ms. Panthaki gave an exquisitely supple account of “Ach Herr, lass deine lieben Engelein” (“Oh Lord, Let Your Dear Cherubim”) by Franz Tunder, Buxtehude’s predecessor as organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck). And Nils Neubert contributed solid, graceful readings of the tenor arias in “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How Lovely Shines the Morning Star”) by Johann Kuhnau, Johann Sebastian Bach’s predecessor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

The ensemble — violins and violas, French horns in the Kuhnau and a continuo group that included two lutes, cello and organ — supported the vocal works with performances that were fluid and often vigorous but never overpowering. And the instrumentalists had a few moments in the spotlight, too. The group gave a lively account of Biber’s Sonata No. 8, from the 1676 “Sonatae Tam Aris Quam Aulis Servientes” (“Sonatas as Much for the Altar as the Table”). And Mr. Stein, switching from the chamber organ from which he led the vocal pieces to the church’s larger, more flexible instrument, gave an energetic and appealingly shaded performance of a Prelude by Nicolaus Bruhns.

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Handel: Gloria, Mozart: Vesperae solennes de confessore

All post-concert conversation pointed to one person last evening at the Bach Society of Saint Louis’ season-ending concert, and that one person was soprano Sherezade Panthaki. Miss Panthaki possesses the perfect Baroque soprano voice – trills of wonder give way to roulades that would make most of us quake; the sheer beauty of her tone is like the air on the most perfect of spring mornings.

Miss Panthaki was clearly the star last evening, especially in Handel’s Gloria, a relatively recent discovery from a young Handel. Conductor Dennis Sparger’s tempos landed exactly on the mark, lending urgency and poise to the music, allowing the soprano to bewitch the audience.

….The justly famous Laudate Dominum gave her one more radiant moment. Her gossamer ‘amen’ at its conclusion was the kind of thing that makes grown men weep tears of joy.

– Dr. Jeffrey Carter blog post, St. Louis, 2009
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Soprano dazzles in Handel
by Dr. Jeffrey Carter
posted April 26, 2009

All post-concert conversation pointed to one person last evening at the Bach Society of Saint Louis’ season-ending concert, and that one person was soprano Sherezade Panthaki. Miss Panthaki possesses the perfect Baroque soprano voice – trills of wonder give way to roulades that would make most of us quake; the sheer beauty of her tone is like the air on the most perfect of spring mornings.

Miss Panthaki was clearly the star last evening, especially in Handel’s Gloria, a relatively recent discovery from a young Handel. The six movements contain no depth of drama – that was left to Bach and Mozart in this performance – but the music is exuberant and beguiling. Conductor Dennis Sparger’s tempos landed exactly on the mark, lending urgency and poise to the music, allowing the soprano to bewitch the audience.

Bach’s motet Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 227) is an introspective work in eleven movements, chorales alternating with some of St. Paul’s words in trio and choral settings. A few squishy unisons aside, the Bach Society sang an illuminating and expressive account. The penultimate chorale was tremendously moving, with whirls of farewells to the vanities of life.

The motet represents a mature Bach at his expressive best. He leaves no descriptive moment unpassed. Little touches of musical brilliance jump out at times, such as the silence after the word ‘nothing,’ or the sudden melisma on the word ‘alive.’ The chorus and orchestra savored these moments.

Bach showed up on the second half of the concert as well in a violin concerto. Concertmistress Lenora-Marya Anop assayed the solo part with passion and clarity. This was a fiery performance, as fine as one would wish to hear in any of the world’s musical capitols.

After a brief communion anthem by Mozart, his Vesperae solennes de Confessore (KV 339) rounded out the concert. Mozart’s writing contains little of the cerebral that Bach brought to the motet, but is instead rather joyous and grand. The chorus, singing Latin with German consonants, caught fire in the third movement (Beatus vir) and ran with that amalgam of splendor and polish all the way to the final ‘Glory be.’

Sparger brought Miss Panthaki back as part of quartet of soloists for the Vespers; she was the stand-out of the somewhat mismatched bunch. The justly famous Laudate Dominum gave her one more radiant moment. Her gossamer ‘amen’ at its conclusion was the kind of thing that makes grown men weep tears of joy.

St. Francis Xavier Church, on the Saint Louis University campus, possesses generous reverberation time and fairly clean sight lines. The acoustic places a halo over the choral sound, but that halo means that the chorus must put a bit more zing in both vowels and consonants if the audience is going to sense the visceral thrills of the music. One could have wished for more time in the consonants last evening from the 60 voices in the chorus.

The Bach Society orchestra brought sensibility and nuance to the Baroque music, employing minimal vibrato and an effective taper on longer notes. Sparger has worked with this band for years; they read each other with the happy familiarity that comes from playing together over and over.

A quibble: why was the original German and Latin text not printed in the program? Helpful program notes and English translations of texts are gratifying, but the sensory experience is better served if one has the original text side-by-side with the translation, at least in this critic’s estimation.

The Bach Society announced the 69th season before the concert. Several of Saint Louis’s churches are set as concert venues for the vagabond performers. Bach’s 325th birthday will be noted with a performance of his Mass in B minor, and the Rheinberger mass for double chorus closes out the season.

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Portland Baroque Orchestra, Dec 2008

Panthaki was absolutely beguiling, with an appealing soft-edged tone, and her duets with Bauguess in “Jauchzet” were the high points of the evening.
– The Oregonian, December 2008
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PBO “Messiah”: Exuberant, joyous
The Oregonian
December 19, 2008
James McQuillen

For more than a decade, Portland Baroque Orchestra has observed Christmas with the gift of variety: its annual presentation of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” on period instruments has been delivered by a different early-music luminary almost every year, in fresh and festive wrapping.

There’s been yet more variety in the past four seasons, with performances featuring the entire work in all its nearly three-hour glory alongside concerts featuring an abbreviated version with other Baroque masterpieces for orchestra and choir.

The short version this time around, which opened Thursday night at First Baptist Church, came with a Bach set: one of the D major Orchestral Suites, the cantata “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen” and the motet “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied,” a choral tour de force. This year’s guest conductor was the prolific and tireless Alexander Weimann, directing from the keyboard, and the vocal soloists included soprano Sherezade Panthaki, mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle, tenor Pascal Charbonneau and baritones Tyler Duncan and John Vergin (Vergin stepped in at the last minute to substitute for an ailing Duncan, who is scheduled to sing the rest of the series).

That much was new.

As for the rest: same old exuberant, joyous tradition. Weimann swept through the evening with propulsive energy, high-contrast dynamics and mostly quick tempos — as well as a scattering of bright ornaments — though he and the ensemble never sounded forced or out of control. The Bach was animated, with incisive, muscular contributions by violinists Carla Moore and Rob Diggins, terrific playing by Barry Bauguess on the Baroque trumpet, and Weimann’s own crisp and sparkling touch at the keyboard.

Panthaki was absolutely beguiling, with an appealing soft-edged tone, and her duets with Bauguess in “Jauchzet” were the high points of the evening.

“Messiah” was fleet but likewise unrushed; after the second half of the concert, which combined the complete Part One with the “Hallelujah” chorus, I’d lost track of time and would have happily sat through the rest of the oratorio. Charbonneau’s single aria (the opening “Comfort Ye”) sat naturally in his rich, strong voice; Bragle, though quiet in the lowest alto reaches, bloomed in her upper register, with spot-on attacks; and Vergin projected a magisterial presence.

Cappella Romana has been PBO’s “Messiah” chorus for the past three years, and the two ensembles make a felicitous partnership; they were focused and balanced in the intricate “Singet,” and as for “Messiah,” there’s nothing like hearing such a nimble, accomplished set of singers race lightly through 16th notes in dazzling counterpoint and fill the room with majestic, swelling chords. Their performance alone was worth the price of admission.

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Alessandro Scarlatti: Tigrane (Bloomington Early Music Festival, 2008)

…best of all, a BLEMF favorite, soprano Sherezade Panthaki, as Meroe, Tigrane’s betrothed, who happens also to be the daughter of the slain Cyrus and aims her vengeful sights on Tomiri…(she) deftly handle(s) the fireworks that Scarlatti sets before her. Panthaki is a wonder.
– Herald Times, Bloomington Indiana, May 2008
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‘Tigrane’ at BLEMF offers a rare opportunity
Bloomington Herald Times
Sunday May 18, 2008
Peter Jacobi, H-T Reviewer

Festivals worthy of the designation serve to engage their audiences with fare usually not otherwise offered. Fans of the Bloomington Early Music Festival have had plenty of discoveries placed before them during the 15 years of its existence.
A prime example came along on Friday evening as BLEMF opened its 2008 schedule at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater with a staging of “Tigrane,” an opera – one of 115, most of them forgotten, – by Alessandro Scarlatti that premiered in 1715. Friday’s performance, according to the festival’s music director, Stanley Ritchie, might have been a U.S. premiere, save for a much abbreviated concert reading a few decades ago.
A second performance is on the docket for this afternoon at 2, giving those of you who missed the first a chance to witness something new that’s very old, a chance to discover, courtesy of an adventurous festival we in south central Indiana call our town.
And who knows? The opera, so long ignored, may disappear once more, so this is a rare opportunity.
The experience has length, let me advise you: three hours of music plus two intermissions to give you breathing space. And that, one is told, means an hours or more of material has been cut from the original. Take into account, though, that Baroque audiences went to the opera not merely to listen and watch but to gossip, guzzle and gorge.
If you go, you’re asked, of course, not to gossip, guzzle or gorge while listening to often interesting and just as often quite lovely music and as you watch a hard-working and well-trained cast prance and dance in gorgeous costumes (thanks to Eleonore Maudry, Anny Purifoy and Kelly Holterhoff) within an environmentally friendly trio of prosceniums, smallest at stage rear and widest up front (designed by Seamus Borne).
Movement and gestures are a major element in this production, these planned and instilled by stage director Paige Whitley-Baugess, a specialist in Baroque theater and dance practice. The performers have taken nicely to the instruction, often enough with the grace and style asked of them.
What matters most, however, is the music and how it is handled. An orchestral ensemble of musicians playing period instruments sounded very much on the mark on Friday, led with authority and a sense for appropriate technique and tone by Cinthia Alireti.
The singers – immersed in a convoluted story of ancient origin circling the defeat of the Persians and the slaying of their emperor Cyrus – all worked diligently at their duties, some more successfully than others but all to the benefit of the production.
Fortunately, the highest quality came where it was most needed, from those with the major roles: soprano Thea Smith as Tomiri, queen of the Massagetae who brought about Cyrus’ demise as revenge for her son’s death while a captive of the Persians; countertenor Daniel Bubeck as the heroic Tigrane, who in Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, turns out to be Tomiri’s long-ago kidnapped other son, and best of all, a BLEMF favorite, soprano Sherezade Panthaki, as Meroe, Tigrane’s betrothed, who happens also to be the daughter of the slain Cyrus and aims her vengeful sights on Tomiri. The three deftly handle the fireworks that Scarlatti set before them. Panthaki is a wonder.
Confused by the story? Well, there’s far more to baffle you, but the ending is a happy one. And all the while, the music, in waves, lulls and excites, in no small part due also to a robust and funny baritone, Antonio Santos Garcia, and a soprano, young Clara Nieman, engaged in musical burlesques that interrupt the main drama, and Sean McCather and Bill Hudson, as a pair of kingly and testy suitors to Tomiri.
There are English supertitles to carry you along that, on opening night, weren’t always in sync with what the performers were singing but were helpful, nevertheless.

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Bach: St. John Passion

There was beautiful singing from Sherezade Panthaki in the soprano solos. Panthaki has a fresh, youthful sound but with a welcome hint of steel.

– St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 2008
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St. John Passion

By Sarah Bryan Miller

St. Louis Post Dispatch

March 10, 2008

The Bach Society of St. Louis brought several fine soloists and a welcome innovation — surtitles — to its performance of J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” on Sunday night.

They also tried out a new venue, Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Town and Country. Acoustically it’s not the equal of the Society’s usual performance space, St. Francis Xavier (College) Church at St. Louis University, but the parking is certainly easier in the suburbs.

The evening’s soloists were not all created equal. Tenor William Watson made a welcome return to the Bach Society with his clearly sung, thoughtfully expressed Evangelist. His diction is impeccable. Watson is one of the best artists doing those roles today.

There was beautiful singing from Sherezade Panthaki in the soprano solos. Panthaki has a fresh, youthful sound but with a welcome hint of steel.

The fine alto Tracy Watson offered an evenly produced dark sound and idiomatic singing in her arias. Bass Curtis Streetman’s Jesus was well-sung; he’s a promising young singer. Baritones Jeffrey Heyl and Joel Knapp offered solid work in the bass arias and as Pilate, respectively.

Tenor Stanley Warren was not up to the standard of the others, with some strained sounds and serious intonation issues in the upper range. His aria “Erwäge, wie sein blutgefärbter Rücker” was painful, particularly when cellist Elizabeth Macdonald suffered pitch problems of her own.

The Bach Society Chorus got off to a mushy start, but pulled it together. Their blend is impeded by some voices in all sections that don’t come in quite on pitch, and by some sopranos and tenors whose voices stick out. Their singing was heartfelt throughout, however.

Music director and conductor A. Dennis Sparger led with authority; some of the arias seemed to drag. He got mostly good work from his instrumentalists, especially cellist Alvin McCall in some well-played solo passages.

Performing the Passion in German was a good move; Sparger has said was an “experiment.” It’s one that should be repeated.

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Bloomington Early Music Festival, Indiana, October 2007

“[Sherezade Panthaki] controls a trumpet of a voice, flexible, powerful and penetrating. It’s a thrill to experience.”
– Herald Times, Bloomington Indiana, October 2007
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Music review: BSO, BLEMF programs

Great promise in two shows

By Peter Jacobi Herald Times Reviewer, Bloomington, Indiana

October 29, 2007

A benefit concert for the Bloomington Early Music Festival Saturday afternoon at the Unitarian Universalist Church held promise, too, this in the form of three arias from “Tigrane,” the opera by Alessandro Scarlatti chosen for performance at the festival next May.

The singer was soprano Sherezade Panthaki, a BLEMF favorite who, in these selections and in a scene from Cimarosa’s “Il matrimonio segreto” (“The Secret Marriage”), reminded the listener why she’s become so. She controls a trumpet of a voice, flexible, powerful and penetrating. It’s a thrill to experience. Her fine partner for the Cimarosa excerpt was William Hudson, he of a melting tenor and sensitive musicianship who also sang a cantata by Scarlatti..

Among the event’s other highlights — each a work by an l8th-century Neapolitan composer — were Four Fantasies by the not-well-known Felipe Falconieri, which proved delightful, particularly as performed by five instrumentalists from IU’s Early Music Institute and their mentor and BLEMF’s artistic director, violinist Stanley Ritchie. Harpsichordist Jonathan Oddie added nimbleness of fingers in negotiating his way through four sonatas by Alessandro Scarlatti’s son Domenico.

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Bloomington Early Music Festival, Indiana, May 2007

”Panthaki enriched each item with her hold-back-nothing performance manner… works of great difficulty dispatched with seeming ease and certain persuasion”
– Herald Times, Bloomington Indiana, May 2007
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Music Review: BLEMF with Arte Bella
Festival musicians team up for fine show
By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer
May 24, 2007
Attention focused on “Myth and Madness” in 17th century music Tuesday evening when a three-member ensemble called Arte Bella entertained a Bloomington Early Music Festival audience in the First United Church.

That meant works of great difficulty, works that harpsichordist Charlotte Mattax, violist da gamba Benjamin Hayek and soprano Sherezade Panthaki dispatched with seeming ease and certain persuasion. Panthaki, with a remarkably flexible vocal instrument, has become a favorite of BLEMF patrons; this is her third appearance at these festivals, to which she comes from her teaching job at Milliken University in Decatur, Ill. Mattax has been Hayek’s graduate level teacher in Baroque performance practice at the University of Illinois.

They made quite a team. Mattax, its director, plays the harpsichord brilliantly; she gave keyboard pieces by Jean-Henry d’Anglebert and Francois Couperin a carefully defined shape while locating in them expressions of serenity and grace. Hayek magically managed to keep the period viola, a most temperamental instrument, tuned without the usual periods of on-stage tuning; he gave it enhanced resonance to boot. Panthaki’s voice is a force of nature capable of acrobatic feats in terms of range and elasticity.

Taking care of the program’s theme, myth and madness was left primarily to her, in songs of emotional tumult by John Eccles and Daniel Purcell and in a trio of extended expositions that dealt with mythology or sent out storms of troubled feelings: a cantata for solo voice, “Fileno Costante,” by the Italian Antonio Caldara, which deals with passions in Greek mythology; an intensively dramatic narrative by Henry Purcell, suggesting Mary’s concerns for a young Jesus; and another cantata, this one by the French Michel Pignolet de Monteclair, “L’Amour vange,” that involves Cupid and a stormy love affair between Tirsis and Climene, more figures from the realm of myth.

Panthaki enriched each item with her hold-back-nothing performance manner and was at all times ably, generously accommodated by her colleagues. Hers is an invigorating rather than soothing voice but comfortably suited to handle and sell her repertoire.

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La Donna Musicale Recording Review, Early Music America, Fall 2007

…excellent performers who actively share the music with their audience… (this is) outstanding music stylishly performed…moving and passionate lyrics by Panthaki…
– Early Music America magazine, Vol 13 Number 3; Fall 2007
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Concert reviewed: Boston Early Music Festival, Saturday June 16, 2007, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.

As a viol player, I have a soft spot for colleagues who do more than smile and play footballs (whole notes); as a woman I like to see groups featuring women’s performers and women’s music. But even if I were neither of these things, I would still have enjoyed the concert by La Donna Musicale (Sherezade Panthaki, Lydia H. Knutson, Daniela Tosic, Na’ama Lion, Cécile Garcia-Moeller, Ruth McKay, Noriko Yasuda, Catherine Liddell, Laury Gutiérrez). How can the group lose? Excellent performers who actively share the music with their audience, outstanding music stylishly performed, improvised ornaments and counter-melodies, virtuosic turns by Lion and Garcia-Moeller, moving and passionate lyrics by Panthaki, Knutson and Tosic. The entire group had a kind of balanced energy that gave the concert a real buoyancy.

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Handel ‘Gloria’, Illinois, December 2005

This “Gloria” [Handel] was gloriously sung by Panthaki, a soprano with a lovely plangent timbre and dazzling coloratura technique, who has acquired what amounts to a cult following at BACH concerts and other events in this area… the sound of Panthaki’s soaring voice resounding from the upper reaches of Holy Cross church was especially thrilling… her singing was spectacular.
– The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana), December 2005
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Stellar singing highlights BACH concert

By John Frayne

The Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana, led by Chester Alwes, gave what has become their contribution to local traditional Christmas concerts on Sunday night in Holy Cross Catholic Church in Champaign. As happens with local traditions, the ingredients of this concert are expected pleasures, such as the audience joining in with the BACH chorus of the hymns and carols of the final section. But to such an anticipated mix, one must add the spice of variety, and this year, it was the spectacular singing of Sherezade Panthaki in a recently discovered “Gloria” by George Frideric Handel.
The feature of the evening was the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” by Handel, a work which is a novelty and which has the aura of being discovered in 1999 in a manuscript book of music at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where it had lain unnoticed since 1837. In his usual meticulous notes, Professor Nicholas Temperley says, “There is no doubt of its authenticity, since Handel, as was his habit, reused several passages from it in later works, adapting them to different words.” I agree with Temperley’s judgement, but there have been doubters about this piece.

In any case, this “Gloria” was gloriously sung by Panthaki, a soprano with a lovely plangent timbre and dazzling coloratura technique, who has acquired what amounts to a cult following at BACH concerts and other events in this area. I heard, while interviewing Panthaki, her audition recording of this Handel work. Impressive as it was, the sound of Panthaki’s soaring voice resounding from the upper reaches of Holy Cross church was especially thrilling.

In the opening and concluding arias, her singing was spectacular. On the words, “Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis,” I thought I heard an echo of the famous “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652). In the recitative near the end, Handel’s inventiveness seemed to me to falter slightly, but the concluding aria recovered a high level of excitement as sung by Panthaki with lovely tone and control. She was ably accompanied by members of the BACH ensemble, led by concertmaster Cristina Lixandru. Hefty applause followed, during which some stood in appreciation.
The last section featured accomplished singing by BACH soloists Andrew Knox, Daniel Carberg and Brad Culpepper, and the back-and-forth singing by sopranos Panthaki and Linger was especially beautiful.

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Mozart: Il Re Pastore (Bloomington Early Music Festival, Indiana, May 2006)

Heading the cast as Aminta, the shepherd king, was Sherezade Panthaki, a mature and virtuoso soprano who surprised festival fans last year as a discovery and who again provided a stunning display of vocal acrobatics.
– The Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana, May 2006
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Monday, May 22, 2006
The Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana

Mozart’s opera ‘Il Re Pastore’ opens BLEMF with applause

By Peter Jacobi
H-T Reviewer

In the musically lush production of Mozart’s “Il Re pastore” (“The Shepherd King”) which inaugurated the Bloomington Early Music Festival on Friday night, the singers were asked to turn themselves into children playing on a beach and to use their imagination to portray the characters in the opera.

Those characters, as the story was first told by the prominent 18th century librettist Pietro Metastasio, included Alexander the Great, a shepherd who should have been king of Sidon, the daughter of a dethroned king and two other characters who complete a foursome of lovers whom a beneficent Alexander can, after a run of plot confusions, unite in happy pairings.

Stage director Tim Nelson got the child imagery notion, he said, from the libretto’s origin. It had been written to mark Empress Maria Theresa’s birthday and reportedly was first performed by five of her children. Well, five children acting out a libretto is one thing. Five singers negotiating complicated Mozart while behaving like children and dressed in not-becoming-for-everyone white beach attire is another.

Those who saw and heard the first performance in Auer Hall or in a repeat on Sunday afternoon – or those who choose to attend the final presentation this Friday (at 7:30 pm) have to decide for themselves whether Nelson’s conceit works. I couldn’t quite buy patty cake games or the constant lobbying of a beach ball around a soprano singing her heart out.

But then the story is rather silly to begin with, and a full, costumed staging with historic or mythic dimensions – not comfortably possible in a concert hall – probably wouldn’t have worked much better. For myself, I’d have preferred a concert performance such as was given after a 19-year old Mozart wrote it on commission from the Archbishop of Salzburg.

What’s important with “Il Re pastore” is the music: a gorgeous succession of vocally demanding arias, an occasional breath-taking duet and a vivacious concluding ensemble. It reveals a youthful Mozart working his way towards those stage masterpieces we so revere him for.

The BLEMF Orchestra using late 18th century instruments, played stylistically and eloquently under music director Stanley Ritchie.

Heading the cast as Aminta, the shepherd king, was Sherezade Panthaki, a mature and virtuoso soprano who surprised festival fans last year as a discovery and who again provided a stunning display of vocal acrobatics.

Panthaki had significant collaboration from four gifted IU opera students: a pair of fine tenors, Brian Arreola (Alexander) and David Wood (Sidon nobleman), and two excellent sopranos, Kathryn Aaron (shepherdess) and Angelique Zuluaga (daughter of the deposed Sidonese king). All did amazingly well with Mozart’s considerable demands.

The production is certainly worth taking in, an accomplishment BLEMF can take pride in. Friday’s audience received it with generous, cheers-enriched applause.

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Handel ‘Gloria’, Indiananapolis Baroque Orchestra

[This Gloria was] beautifully sung by soprano Sherezade Panthaki… Panthaki’s vocalizing was stylishly top-notch — as good an example of Baroque singing as I can recall ever hearing.
– Nuvo Entertainment Weekly (Indianapolis): Classical Music, November 2005
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‘Noël, Noël’
Classical Music
Tom Aldridge
Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra
Christel DeHaan Center, U of I
Nov. 28

Offering Christmas fare from the Baroque period is common enough this time of year, but when it includes a newly discovered composition by one of the great period masters, we may become a bit more tantalized.

The composer in question is George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), and the “new” piece is his setting of the Gloria from the Catholic Ordinary. Though this early work dating from 1707 has supposedly been authenticated as a genuine work of the master, a consummately knowledgeable friend tells me that Handel was, all his life, too staunch a Protestant to have set any part of the Mass — and thus continues to doubt its authenticity.

Whatever the truth be, this Gloria is beautifully written — and moreover was beautifully sung by soprano Sherezade Panthaki and played by the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra in a lovely concert entitled Noël, Noël. Though the Gloria clearly isn’t Christmas themed, everything else on the program was. Still, without a text, who can say what music relates to the Nativity and what doesn’t? To me, Handel’s Gloria sounded more like his Baroque predecessor Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), whose “Christmas Concerto” rang in my ears.

Throughout its six sections, the piece evoked many moods, with the “Et in terra pax” through the “Qui tollis” darker and more plaintive than the exuberant outer sections, “Gloria in excelsis Deo” and “Quonium tu solus sanctus.” Its heavy use of counterpoint belies the more homophonic textures of the mature Handel, which we heard as contrast in two “Christmas” excerpts from his Messiah.

The concert also featured works of Bach, Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Giuseppe Torelli. Our 10 local Baroque players — four violinists, one violist, one cellist, one violone (an early doublebass) player, two recorder players and leader/harpsichordist Thomas Gerber, all playing on period instruments — delivered as thoroughly polished an account of these pieces as one could imagine. Light vibrato and perfect pitch were as delicately nuanced as the best touring ensembles brought us in last summer’s Early Music Festival.

And Panthaki’s vocalizing was stylishly top-notch — as good an example of Baroque singing as I can recall ever hearing. She’ll be back with the Ensemble Voltaire this Jan. 13 at the Trinity Episcopal Church. Don’t miss her!

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La Donna Musicale Recording, Early Music America, May 2006

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki performs the solo setting of Psalm L, “Miserere mei, Deus, secundum,” with purity and elegance… This recording is a must for listeners.
– EARLY MUSIC AMERICA Magazine, May 2006
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La Donna Musicale Recording, Early Music America, May 2006
May 2006

Antonia Padoani Bembo
The Seven Psalms of David,
Volume II
La Donna Musicale (Sherezade Panthaki, Margaret Hunter, soprano; Laura Gulley, Jennifer Schiller, Cécile J. Garcia-Moeller, Baroque violin; Na’ama Lion, Baroque flute; Ruth McKay, organ, harpsichord; Sonia Lee, Noriko Yasuda, harpsichord;
Laury Gutiérrez, director, viola da gamba); Aaron Sheehan, tenor; Frederick Jodry, bass
La Donna Musicale (self-produced)
58:00 minutes

In this second volume of music by Antonia Padoani Bembo (c.1640–c.1720), La Donna Musicale offers the final three settings of seven psalms. These elegant and intriguing arrangements of Elisabeth-Sophie Chéron’s poetic texts not only demonstrate the fruits of a major talent in the court of Louis XIV, but also provide a repertory that is excellently suited to the abilities of this fine group of performers. The cycle concludes with Psalm XXXI, “Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates,” a three movement composition that demonstrates the talents of the singers and musicians in the group, with the addition of tenor Aaron Sheehan and bass Frederick Jodry. Jodry’s voice adds notable richness to the trio texture Bembo used throughout. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki performs the solo setting of Psalm L, “Miserere mei, Deus, secundum,” with purity and elegance. Sheehan joins soprano Margaret Hunter for the concluding setting of Psalm XXXVII, “Domine, ne in furore.” The vocal pairings not only demonstrate the talents of these voices, but also indicate the wealth of ideas Bembo used in these compositions. As in the first volume, the group also includes compositions by Bembo’s contemporary Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665–1729). The instrumentalists do laudable justice to the Trio Sonata in D Major. In addition, two works from the composer’s Les Pièces de clavessin are performed by keyboardists Ruth McKay (thePrelude in D minor) and Sonia Lee (Prelude in A minor). This recording is a must for listeners
—Denise Gallo

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La Donna Musicale Recording, Goldberg International Music Magazine, United Kingdom, Fall 2006

… the well-placed soprano voice of Sherezade Panthaki is full of light…
– Goldberg International Music Magazine, United Kingdom, The Seven Psalms of David, Volume II, Fall 2006
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Antonia Bembo
The Seven Psalms of David (vol. II)
La Donna Musicale
La Donna Musicale La 2005
Enregistré en été/automne 2005
Durée : 57’20

4 étoiles

This is La Donna Musicale’s second album of music by Antonia Padoani Bembo (c. 1640-c. 1720), a singular figure on several counts. She was part of Louis XIV’s retinue and was the protégée of the king and his morganatic wife, Madame de Maintenon. Under the influence of the latter, the court underwent a period of severe and rigorous religious devoutness. These tendencies were also found in Elisabeth-Sophie Chéron’s poetic paraphrases of the Psalms of David, which Bembo set to music (Psalms 31, 50 and 37 are included in this recording). It is interesting to observe how this Italian composer presented herself as more French than the French, curbing every instinct towards melodic effusion in favour of the exigencies of the text, yet subverting this ‘Gallicism’ with daring harmonies that clearly show their Italian origins. Unexpected rhythmic complexities are also in evidence. La Dona Musicale’s reading of Bembo’s works seems slightly tame, even taking into account the religious environment in which they were written. A bit more emphasis on the unusual rhythms and more precise diction would have been nice, and would also have helped the musicians to take better advantage of Chéron’s texts. The album does contain musical felicities, however: the well-placed soprano voice of Sherezade Panthaki is full of light, and the solid technique of Aaron Sheehan demonstrates once again that English-style high tenors are a valid alternative to French counter-tenors. The highly professional instrumental ensemble is beyond reproach. Potential listeners should not be put off by the caveats; this album presents a fascinating musical universe.
Yutha Tep

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Selected Photo

Catacoustic 1