Recent Reviews

Ottawa Symphony Orchestra:  Mahler 2nd Symphony
(April 2017)

“Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó has had a marathon week in Ottawa: two NACO performances last week; a Juno Awards classical showcase Saturday afternoon in which she also filled in for an ailing Daniel Taylor; and finally the Mahler. You’d never know it from her voice: I’ve yet to hear her put a foot wrong; she sounds the same whether she’s been singing every night or had a month off.

Szabó is a wonderful Mahler singer. Her voice has a deep but clear amethyst colour that cuts through the thick texture of the orchestra even in its quietest dynamics, without a trace of heaviness or tension. In the Urlicht movement, her expression was by turns grave, afflicted and gently comforting. It was hard to believe this was her first Resurrection.”
-Arts File Ottawa

NAC Orchestra:  From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
(March 2017)

“Szabó shimmers in new work by Gary Kulesha at NAC… Kulesha tailored his composition to Szabó’s stunning range, assured technique and penetrating tone. This unbelievably consistent singer deftly navigated the violent mood swings in Woolf’s writing: her expression was at turns confidential, mocking and snobbish, serene, or almost wailing in pain, but there was never a snag or a sharp corner to her singing.”
-Arts File Ottawa

Edmonton Opera:  Cinderella
(February 2017)

“Szabó, as Cenerentola herself, encompassed both innocent charm and later more sophistication. When Rossini finally allows her to really let go vocally, with bel canto decoration at the end of the opera, she showed why she will be making her Covent Garden debut in a new George Benjamin opera next year.”
-Edmonton Journal

“Her haunting andantino “Un volta c’era un re” is beautifully phrased with a where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire tone. Rossini provides ample room to show off her flexibility and range, particularly in Act II. The smoke was no ruse: there are dazzling vocal fireworks aplenty in the long finale.

Mr. Tessier and Ms. Szabó’s duet in Act I is an especial treat. Emotionally it’s the sweetest part of the whole opera (love at first sight, class transcendence, victory for the downtrodden). The combined effect of their seemingly effortless streams of parallel sixths, along with restrained staging and a monochromatic palette of costumes and lighting (blues) is quite magical.”
-Edmonton Classical Music

Tafelmusik:  Messiah
(December 2016)

“Krisztina Szabo was a most amazing alto. You could feel the heat rise on the back of your neck when she conjured up that “refiner’s fire.” Her “He was despised” was simple, yet deeply affecting, presenting pictures of grief, horror, deep sadness and calm resignation one after the other, as only a true artist can.”
-Globe and Mail

“Krisztina Szabo has been ubiquitous in this town of late, often in modernist works on the opera stage. How refreshing, then, to see her not in a new opera, not in something atonal or dissonant, but something well-known. Yet her “He was despised” was fresh, especially in the taut drama of the middle section. Every few moments in “he gave his back to the smiters” she seemed to take on a different emotion, sometimes seeming furious, sometimes sad, sometimes compassionate. The da capo of “He was despised” was especially rich, sung in a softer sound, as though completely heart-broken.”
-Barcza Blog

“Krisztina Szabó’s rendition of “He was despised” was sung with a warm and buttery texture. Her first way through the subject was declaratory. The da capo was nuanced with feelings of incredulity and disbelief. She was broken-hearted as she told this story. Surprising even me, this wonderful aria was my favorite of the evening.”
-Musical Toronto

CHAMP:  A Bridge to the Future
(November 2016)

“Perhaps most extraordinary was the opportunity to hear Krisztina Szabó singing something in her native tongue…Hers is a voice that seems to straddle boundaries, as she is so much more than just a mezzo-soprano.”
-BarczaBlog

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Esprit Orchestra:  Adieu, Robert Schumann
(November 2016)

“…the endlessly surprising mezzo shaded her voice with restraint and contemplation”
-Musical Toronto

Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook

Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook

Ottawa Chamber Music Festival:  Arion Baroque Tour: Bach B  Minor Mass (August 2016)

“The outrageously talented Krisztina Szabó was dignified and deeply moving.”
-Ottawa Citizen

Talisker Players:  Cross’d by the Stars
(May 2016)

“The concert couldn’t have gotten any better than the Burry/Szabó extravaganza.”
-Definitely the Opera

“Krisztina Szabó demonstrated her virtuosity performing a piece full of challenges including difficult shifts in pitch, unusual rhythms, and projecting clear diction over an ensemble playing at fortissimo. After that, her two songs from West Side Story, “One Hand, One Heart” and “Somewhere,” were almost too undemanding for an artist of her ability.”
-Musical Toronto

Mozart C Minor Mass & Requiem
(Les Violons du Roy, February 2016)

Si tous les solistes méritent des éloges, un coup de chapeau particulier va à Krisztina Szabo, qui a remplacé la mezzo prévue dans l’après-midi même avec un aplomb impressionnant. Il apparaît dans la Messe en ut qu’elle a une technique de vocalisation aussi efficace..
-Le Devoir

La mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó, qui remplaçait au pied levé et avec assurance sa collègue Allyson McHardy, a fait belle figure dans le Laudamus te.
-Le Soleil

Bravissimo!
(New Year’s Eve Gala, December 31, 2015)

With Karina Gauvin, Stefano La Colla, photo credit: J. So

The most impressive of the singers was the mezzo Krisztina Szabó. We have heard her a number of times in the last few seasons, with the Canadian Opera Company (in Schoenberg’s Erwartung and, more recently, in the COC’s triple bill of Monteverdi and Monk Feldman) and with Against the Grain Theatre (in their Schubert-Messiaen program). This recent concert, on December 31, 2015, gave us an opportunity to hear her in more familiar repertoire. That included Musetta’s Waltz from Puccini’s La Bohème, a role more usually sung by a soprano (although it is in Szabó’s repertoire) as well as the Habanera and the Seguidilla from Bizet’s Carmen. What a formidable Carmen she would make! She sang the middle line in Mozart’s Soave sia il vento from the first act of Così fan tutte and the lower part of the Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé. In both cases she gave her part a stronger vocal presence than is normally the case in performance.
-The Whole Note

Mezzo Szabo’s fearless vocalism in a wide-ranging repertoire has made her an authentic star in recent years. Recent triumphs include the Woman in Erwartung and the triple bill Pyramus and Thisbe… It was a treat to hear (her) sing Rosina’s ‘Una voce poco fa’ from Barbiere, the kind of repertoire that she rarely sings these days. Given her high mezzo bordering on soprano, her top was impressive, and she fully embodied the vixen quality of the street-smart Rosina. Her two big Carmen arias were delivered with gleaming tone and abundant stage allure. She also did the totally unexpected – a diminuendo in the B natural ending of Musetta’s Waltz. I can’t think of another mezzo capable of doing that!
-Musical Toronto

Best of 2015:  End of Year Reviews

I mostly recall a couple of brilliant performances… particularly the work of Krisztina Szabó in the COC’s Erwartung and AtG’s Harawi.  In high-diving you get marks for what they call “degree of difficulty”; if artistic performance recognized such things, Szabó ’s work on these two jagged pieces of modernity would have her on whatever podium properly recognizes brilliance.
-Barcza Blog

If I had to pick a favourite from the COC’s line up it would likely be Robert Lepage’s production of Schoenberg’s Erwartung featuring a stellar one woman performance by Krisztina Szabó…. There was also much to like in the category of hard to define productions. Against the Grain produced two fine combinations of music and choreography. Death and Desire; a mash up of Die Schöne Müllerin and Messiaen’s Harawi featured a searing performance from Krisztina Szabó, well paired with Stephen Hegedus…

It wasn’t until I got to the end of writing the above that I realised that four very talented Canadian women played a huge role in making 2015 memorable. If I were in charge of the cover of Time magazine it would be shared by the multi talented quartet of Carla Huhtanen, Krisztina Szabó, Jen Nichols and Barbara Hannigan!
-Opera Ramblings

A mild evening in June in a tiny art gallery. A man strode to the piano and began playing Schubert. Two singers wandered through the audience. What ensued was dazzling, a rapturous evocation of naive, unbridled desire meeting neurotic, unfocussed longing. The naive desire was male, Stephen Hegedus singing Schubert’s delicate, inflamed Die Schone Mullerin (The Miller’s Lovely Daughter); and the manic longing was in Krisztina Szabo performing Olivier Messiaen’s starkly distraught Harawi: Chant d’amour et de mort(Song of Love and Death). This was Against the Grain’s Death & Desire, a fabulously inspired mash-up. Simply done, it was the most unforgettable night of the year and made, as a poet said, one little room an everywhere.
-John Doyle, The Globe and Mail

Tap:Ex Metallurgy
(Tapestry Opera, November 2015)

Tap:Ex

With David Pomeroy. Photo Credit: Dahlia Katz

Of course, Falco and Haliechuk had an enormous advantage in that tenor David Pomeroy and mezzo/soprano Krisztina Szabo were interpreting their works. They were both captivating and superb. Pomeroy’s voice was clear and focused throughout, capable of a range of emotion, grabbing our attention at every moment. And what is there left to say about the truly remarkable Szabo? The beauty of the sound that she makes is overwhelming sometimes, although it’s one thing to hear her on the stage of the cavernous Four Seasons Centre, and another to come face to face with that musical power at a distance of a few feet. Her control over her instrument is complete; the range of sound and emotion she portrays is immensely attractive and compelling.
-The Globe and Mail

As always, Szabó blew my mind. Her instrument is one-of-a-kind and she has cemented herself as a darling of Canadian experimental music and opera, and we really couldn’t be luckier. Her sensibility and sensitivity to the material is truly inspiring, and even though she claimed to be under the weather, still sang like a goddess from Seventh Heaven.
-Schmopera

Pyramus and Thisbe
(Canadian Opera Company, October 2015)

Pyramus

With Phillip Addis. Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

Szabo’s mezzo voice is a burnished joy, able to cut through both a 20-odd person chorus and a full orchestra with clarity and beauty, and her presence on stage was luminous…

The night really belonged to Szabo, in a way, because Pyramus and Thisbe was not the only work presented in this creative COC program. To fill out an evening’s worth of opera beyond Pyramus’s 50-odd minutes, COC general director Alexander Neef decided to precede it with two 17th-century excerpts from the pen of Claudio Monteverdi, opera’s founding father, using the same set, costumes, theatrical style and cast of Pyramus. It was a clever idea, creating constant sparks of recognition and correspondence between works written 400 years apart, from opera’s beginning and present. And here, Krisztina Szabo shone with extra brilliance. Her 15-minute solo, The Lament of Ariadne, which opened the show, was a tour de force, zooming through a catalogue of emotions like a YouTube video on fast-forward. She and Addis both were powerful in the more dramatic Combat of Tancredi and Clorinda
-The Globe and Mail

Szabó’s performance of the “Lamento” was exquisite.  Her voice had even more lustre and richness than usual, and her word-painting was impeccable.
-Opera News

It was Szabó who truly shone that night. She was able to pull together emotions from opposite ends of many spectrums and deliver it with singing that was sublime, eerie and filled the house, proving that she can perform equally well in a large venue as a smaller, more intimate one…

Szabó, in particular, performed splendidly. Her soprano was at times spiritual and at times the stuff of abject heartbreak, but there was never mistaking exactly which emotion she was trying to convey. Addis and McCausland were solid, but when paired next to Szabó, there was only ever one performer on stage.
-The Examiner

The Canadian world premiere of Barbara Monk Feldman’s Pyramus and Thisbe (was) stunningly sung… Szabo manages to be sensual yet sensitive, tragic yet troubling…
-The Toronto Star

Phillip Addis and Krisztina Szabó have a lot to do here too. The music is unusual and challenging to sing and they have to do it while moving in a highly choreographed way. It’s in no way conventional acting but the demands are considerable and they look and sound terrific.
-Opera Ramblings 

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó was the glue that held the triple bill together, appearing in all three pieces. No doubt, she was cast for her always-impressive skills as an interpreter of contemporary music (her last appearance with the COC was as the Woman in Schoenberg’s Erwartung), but as the tragic Arianna, she proved that she knows a thing or two about Baroque music. Her delivery was plangent and penetrating – not too pretty, yet tastefully ornamented.
-Eatock Daily (blog)

Krisztina Szabó is achingly beautiful as Thisbe, Clorinda and Ariadne, combining power and vulnerability with nuance in each role.
-Mooney on Theatre (blog)

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó was the glue that held the triple bill together, appearing in all three pieces. No doubt, she was cast for her always-impressive skills as an interpreter of contemporary music (her last appearance with the COC was as the Woman in Schoenberg’s Erwartung), but as the tragic Arianna, she proved that she knows a thing or two about Baroque music. Her delivery was plangent and penetrating – not too pretty, yet tastefully ornamented.
– Eatock Daily (blog)

Beyond the Aria
(Soundstreams, September 2015)

Soundstreams

Mezzo Krisztina Szabó,  having a Josh Donaldson  sort of artistic year between her COC Erwartung and Against the Grain Theatre’s Death & Desire, used the colours of her expressive voice to full effect in a world premiere, also based on poems of Lorca, of Analia Llugdar’s Romance de la luna, luna.
-The Globe and Mail

Bartók’s BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE
(Colorado Music Festival, July 2015)

Bluebeard

With Samuel Ramey.

The Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano is ideally cast as Judith.  She sings with beauty of tone and great intensity, as Judith becomes ever more desperate to penetrate Bluebeard’s secrets.
– sharpsandflatirons.com

Both singers thoroughly inhabited their characters.  Szabó imbued Judith with a subtle blend of tenderness and willfulness.
– Daily Camera

Shoenberg’s ERWARTUNG
(Canadian Opera Company, May 2015)

Krisztina Szabó as the Woman and Mark Johnson as the Psychiatrist (in background) in the Canadian Opera Company production of Erwartung, 2015. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Robert Lepage, revival director François Racine, set and costume designer Michael Levine, and lighting designer Robert Thomson. Photo: Michael Cooper

Photo Credit: Michael Cooper

In Erwartung Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó gave a finely detailed performance as the Woman, both as singer and actor. Bewilderment gave way to fear, anger, and distress as the Woman relived the fragments of the past that rose unbidden in her memory. Szabó’s voice was infinitely expressive but lacked the hard edge that would help it more consistently cut through the orchestral texture. Yet, the very lack of that hardness also contributed greatly to our empathy for her character.
– Christopher Hoile, Opera News

As the Woman, Szabó brought an agitated, dramatic edge to her coolly accurate mezzo voice. Working closely with Debus, her performance was a fragmented outpouring, seemingly spontaneous in its sudden shifts in tempo, dynamics, and articulation. Szabó was utterly committed and entirely convincing – and the extended ovation she received was well earned.
– Colin Eatock, Eatock Daily Blog

Szabó gives one of the strongest performances of any COC season, by turns raving and dangerous, or vulnerable and even child-like. In short she’s unforgettable.
– Barczablog

Krisztina Szabó stunned me again with this performance…she really did embody this role, though. There were no moments of “just singing,” everything meant something specific, every word was newly coloured. So incredible.
– Schmopera

After intermission, the playing field is different, yet somehow the same. Schoenberg’s music jerks wildly around, like the EKG of someone on the verge of a major cardiac episode and this is indeed the best way to describe The Woman, sung by Krisztina Szabo with an emotional abandon that manages to be thrilling and horrifying at the same time.
– Richard Ouzonian, Toronto Star

The Woman is sung by Krisztina Szabó (ironic that the Hungarian-Canadian gets the German to sing?).  She combines a terrifyingly intense acting performance with actually being able to sing Schoenberg’s crazy music.
– OperaRamblings

Schoenberg’s writing for The Woman is impossibly taxing, demanding a stratospheric range and superhuman muscle. Szabó more than meets the outrageous requirements, her clear, ringing mezzo forceful, resonant, soaring. This is an astonishing performance overflowing with passion, heartrending in its humanity. Her character spent, released from suffering by a flood of catharsis, Szabó closes Erwartung with Schoenberg’s inexpressibly poignant Liebster, Liebster, der Morgen kommt (“Oh, beloved, beloved, dawn is breaking”). It is a moment, to summon W.B. Yeats, of terrible beauty.
– Opera Going Toronto

Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo was utter perfection in her delivery of the unhinged, unnamed woman of the opera. She keeps you deeply engaged for the entire 30 minutes as her tale unfolds, and there is more feeling packed into that piece than is in many theatrical works today. As the woman wanders through the inky darkness of the forest (as much a forest of the mind as it is physical), Szabo’s voice is beautifully, darkly expressive. With each note, she displayed her apprehensive agitated state—frightened, anxious, manic, as she searches for her lover in the tenebrous space.
– The Scene Toronto

Mezzo soprano Kristina Szabo goes through all the emotional permutations that the Woman suffers with powerful singing and acting. This is opera in a different dimension.
– James Karas Reviews

For her part, Szabó is truly remarkable, both for holding her own in the half-hour opera and fearlessly attacking the Freudian language to go down a cognitive path nobody wants to travel.
– Toronto Performing Arts

DEATH AND DESIRE
(Against the Grain Theatre, June 2015)

With Stephen Hegedus, baritone and Topher Morkrzewski, piano. Against the Grain Theatre’s “Death and Desire”, Toronto, June 2015. Photo by Darryl Block.

Szabó sang the super-sized Harawi as if it was no trouble at all – and this just after having finished singing The Woman in Schoenberg’s Erwartung for the Canadian Opera Company.  She had an enormous palate of sound, from white and whispered to a full, animalistic cry; all of it felt otherworldly.
-Opera Canada

When the house lights dimmed, and Szabó began to sing softly at the back of the hall, I was held spellbound. From then on she inhabited each song with a dramatic veracity rarely found on the recital stage. But it was her sensuality of both body and voice that entrapped her audience. Whether it be death or desire, her interpretive genius was in full evidence throughout.
– Musical Toronto

Singing the role of The Woman in Harawi, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo astonished, her voice a pure white sheet of pain and suffering, crisp and pristine. Messiaen demands brilliant, blazing top notes from his singer, balanced by an almost limitless lower register, reverberant and robust, to convey the abundance of extraordinary Quechuan chant in his primeval cycle. Szabo soared even higher, dived even deeper than the prescribed paramaters. Doundou tchil, a Peruvian folk dance traditionally accompanied by ankle bells, was delivered with rousing energy, the ringing, onomatopoeic lyrics entrancing and jangling in Szabo’s euphoric styling. Her descent into madness in Syllabes (Syllables) electrified, her rhythmic incantation, the terrified cry of a wild animal…
– Opera Going Toronto

The performances are ravishing. Hegedus’s rich, resonant baritone evokes a pastoral scene and a growing sense of disillusionment and despair, while Szabó is fierce and committed, her clear voice filling the hall with thrilling passion.
– Now Magazine

The first notes you hear belong to mezzo soprano Krisztina Szabó. She began singing delicately with a white tone at the back of the hall behind the audience and you knew in a moment you were in for a ride. Szabó’s crystal clear voice (and might I add, deadly accurate) filled the awkward space effortlessly, and when she released the full power of her sound, it was stunning. Her careful use of straight tones and open vibrato were incredibly tasteful, all the while giving a slight doff of the cap to Messaien’s love of birdcall.
This is the best work I’ve seen her do, and a large part of that is due to her first rate work as an actor on stage.
Also. Krisztina Szabó. Mad scenes. #MicDrop.
She was in complete command of her physicality at all times which made it impossible not to watch her. The intimacy of the venue really allowed the audience to see the nuanced character work she was doing. This is no mean feat when singing repertoire as demanding as this. Her character’s descent into madness was honest, calculated, and carefully executed. At times, in her mayhem, she became almost predatory which was even more enthralling.
– Schmopera

Various Highlights

“Special kudos go to Szabó, whose high mezzo, with its soprano-like timbre, never sounded better.”
– Opera Canada – Galicians I:  The Art Songs (CD)

“Krisztina Szabó’s reading of Paride was startling… she offered the most idiomatic singing –some adventurous da capo elaborations, fabulous clarity—all while judiciously holding her big voice back for most of the night, wonderfully well balanced with the rest of the singers onstage with her.”
– Barczablog – Paride in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena (Essential Opera)

La mezzosoprano Krisztina Szabó solventó la parte vocal de la obra de Boulez con gran dominio del estilo y el Plural Ensemble se mostró impecable en todo momento desde el punto de vista interpretativo.
(“The mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó performed the vocal part of Boulez’s work with great mastery of style, and together with the Plural Ensemble, was spotless at all times in the interpretation of the piece.”)
– El Pais Madrid – Boulez’ Improvisation 1 & 2 (Plural Ensemble, Madrid)

“As the personification of the gypsy, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó entered with a slow, erogenous motion that was underlined by her smoky voice.”
– Theatre Jones.com – Janaček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Soundings:  New Music at Nasher)

“Krisztina Szabó had just the right hint of sizzle in her succulent mezzo.”
– Dallas Morning News – Janaček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Soundings:  New Music at Nasher)

Donna Elvira – Don Giovanni
Vancouver Opera (March 2014)

Don Giovanni

“The other standout is Krisztina Szabó’s Donna Elvira, a woman repeatedly tormented by our shameless Don Juan. The fiery mezzo nailed it from the minute she promised “I’ll tear his heart out” to her polished rendition of the punishing, frantic ornamentation of “Mi tradì”.”
The Georgia Straight (March 2014)

“Mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó as Donna Elvira, sopranos Erin Wall as Donna Anna and Rachel Fenlon as Zerlina may be the best-looking female cast to elegantly grace the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage in some time.

Krisztina Szabó is marvelous as the coquettish Donna Elvira. Delivering good coloratura in her showpiece aria, Mi tradi quell’alma ingrateshe reflects on the misery that Don Giovanni has brought, yet still harbours a fondness towards him. Ms. Szabó.. reveals comic timing and a natural penchant for physical comedy.”
ReviewVancouver.com (March 2014)

“Szabó’s lament in act two was heartfelt, authentic and deeply moving.”
Plank Magazine (March 2014)

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