in Handel’s Ariodante at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the outset, soprano Rae created a Ginevra of luscious timbre and ample vocal heft, her top register radiant in “Orrida, a gl’occhi miei,” her virtuosity unmistakable in “Volate, amori.
— Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
In her Lyric Opera debut as Ginevra, soprano Brenda Rae lit up the stage with her big, bright soprano voice, handling with ease both the high-flying vocal acrobatics and the dark emotions this role demands.
— Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun-Times

As Elvira in I Puritani at Oper Frankfurt

As Elvira, Brenda Rae is world-class. Her voice has everything that the role requires: a melting legato, sparkling virtuoso coloratura, effortless staccato, intelligent breath control. The composer has allowed the part two mad scenes, and in both the audience follows the singer, who grew up in Frankfurt’s ensemble, breathlessly.
— Andreas Bomba, Frankfurter Neue Presse
Rae, Elvira debutante and an enchanting actress, tackles her part with superb technique; there is no dodging difficulties, everything sparkles and is perfectly spot-on.
— Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau
How a voice can bloom like that! [...] Brenda Rae, best-known to the Frankfurt public, is an Elvira whom Bellini himself would have placed alongside those sopranos of his time whose voices brought each of his intentions to heightened worth. She masters the lyrical ornamented passages, as well as the eruptive cantilene of desperation, brilliantly, without ever letting the virtuoso moments appear as mere solfeggio. In a fit of effusiveness, and paraphrasing 19th century reviews, one is inclined to describe her melismata as blooming roses.
— Wolfgang Sander, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Once more, Brenda Rae can be relied on as an Elvira entering the sphere of somnambulism: a bright and delicately colored timbre, great secureness in the highest vocal range and expressive uplifts. Dramatically, Rae appears concentrated in every nuance, and touching in her vulnerability.
— Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, Opernwelt

As Gilda in Rigoletto with Oper Frankfurt

[...] Equally exceptional is Brenda Rae, leading her Gilda from girlish chastity to glowing desire and the sobering perception that love can take a brutal toll. She savors the famous “Caro nome” aria with all its virtuosic subtleness in every sense [...]. How versatile, touching and fascinating this wonderful voice is!
— Andreas Bomba, Frankfurter Neue Presse
Brenda Rae as Gilda: contrasting the chaste and cool figure she plays, her soprano excels with variable nuances of warmth, a rich palette of piano colors and a meticulous negotiation of the coloratura passages. Virtuosity without undue exaltation. [...] This “Rigoletto” offered singing at its best.
— Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, Frankfurter Rundschau
Brenda Rae thrills in Hendrik Müller’s new production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” in Frankfurt [...] Shortly before leaving Frankfurt’s opera ensemble, the soprano Brenda Rae once more proves a perfect cast, not only as the girl with enchantingly effortless coloratura [...] but also as the determined young woman.
— Axel Zibulski, Allgemeine Zeitung, Rhein Main Presse

As Amenaide in Tancredi with Opera Philadelphia

A stellar performance by soprano Brenda Rae, in both her company and role debut as Amenaide, affirms her consummate mastery of Rossini’s elaborate ornamentations and her engaging acting skills, as she constantly astonishes with her pure mellifluous voice, flawless execution of extended passages of coloratura, and profound emotional commitment to the compelling role of an honorable woman who would sooner give up her own life than betray her true love.
— Deb Miller, DC Metro Theater Arts
Although the opera is named for Tancredi, Amenaide is the longest and most vocally challenging part. Rae possesses a large and agile voice, and she greets the role’s myriad demands with aplomb. She executes trills with exciting flourish, and her fioratura is pinpoint precise.
— Cameron Kelsall, Talkin' Broadway
[...] a constant source of vocal allure with the kind of dramatic instincts that turn a flashy cadenza into an intense character study.
— David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

As Berg's Lulu with English National Opera

Brenda Rae makes a sensational house debut in the title role, one of the most challenging in the repertoire.
— WhatsOnStage
Brenda Rae in the title role is less of a rapacious flirt than conventionally played, but this is also her strength, enabling us to see a character as a flesh-and-blood woman; her singing of the part is a tour de force.
— Barry Millington, Evening Standard
A superb cast was led, but not dominated, by Brenda Rae’s Lulu: if you can perform the role at the highest level, as she did, you sit it alongside Brünnhilde or Isolde as a pinnacle of operatic achievement.
— David Nice, The Arts Desk
Brenda Rae’s Lulu, tirelessly busy and vocally spot-on, is the enigmatic centre of it all, very much the blank slate on which men can project their own fantasies, almost oblivious to her own allure.
— Andrew Clements, The Guardian
At centre stage is Brenda Rae’s mercurial Lulu, half predator, half victim. As a coloratura soprano, Rae has the top notes clean and clear and, like them, her charisma on stage sparkles...
— Richard Fairman, Financial Times

In recital at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg

Two years ago, Brenda Rae had already introduced herself at the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg [...], and now she performed an all Schubert program which suited her voice type and brought out the unknown side of the composer. Without the least difficulty, the soprano [...] met all vocal demands, and surprised with her very clear German diction and superb phrasing. By means of subtle piani, artful diminuendi, unforced low notes and, first and foremost, an expressivity which rendered tenderness and resolve equally credible, she wonderfully conveyed the diversity of Schubert’s lieder cosmos. Furthermore, she deserves the highest respect for performing the entire [...] program from memory without the support of a music stand. The concert’s only encore showed the singer fully in her element: in Richard Strauss’ song “Amor,” which goes up to high D, her Zerbinetta - and Aminta - tested soprano shone with electrifying intensity. [...]
— Opernglass, September 2015

As Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Staatsoper Berlin

Brenda Rae turns Zerbinetta’s show-stopping second-act aria into the evening’s highlight, with consummate musicality and killer technique.
— Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times
Rounding out the main cast was the American soprano Brenda Rae, who lent her fresh, agile voice to Zerbinetta, arguably the opera’s most memorable vocal character. She sang the coquettish role with extravagant colors, an alluring texture and dazzling runs and trills.
— A.J. Goldmann, Opera News

As Semele at Seattle Opera

Singing her first Semele, Brenda Rae was sensual in “O Sleep” and “With fond desiring,” dazzling in the coloratura of “Myself I shall adore” and long runs of “No no, I’ll take no less,” and moving in her death scene. Time stopped when Rae and Stephanie Blythe sang the rapt beginning of the duet “Prepare then, ye immortal choir.
— Mark Mandel, Opera News
In the title role of a mortal woman whose crush on Jupiter leads to pride, ambition, and a fiery end, Brenda Rae [...] sounds glorious in both her dreamy slow arias and her acrobatic showpieces.
— Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly
Brenda Rae triumphed vocally and theatrically in the title role, unafraid to push Semele’s hedonism to sensual extremes and yet still conveying vulnerability in her final, Elsa-like confrontation with her lover-god. She added giddily over-the-top - and pinpoint accurate - ornamentations to “Myself I shall adore” but also floated the most delicate trills and messa di voce notes in her lovely high range.
— Thomas May, Bachtrack

As Amina in La Sonnambula at Oper Frankfurt

Having waited a long time, Oper Frankfurt turned out to have the ideal raison d’être for its first-ever production of La sonnambula. Brenda Rae, a luminary of the company since 2008, had set her sights on Amina, and her performance (seen on December 20) immediately established her as a major interpreter of the role. She was stunningly assured, with perfect coloratura, flawless line and breath control, and with radiant top notes crowning a voice even throughout its registers; moreover, she looked lovely enough to have the whole village at her feet.
— Opera Magazine, May 2015
Star des Abends war aber klar die Schlafwandlerin selbst. Für Brenda Rae, die seit 2008 im Ensemble der Oper Frankfurt singt, war es ein Rollendebüt, wenn auch kein unerwartetes. Die amerikanische Sopranistin verfügt über die angenehme Mittellage und die strahlende Höhe, die sie in dieser besonderen Belcanto-Partie ausleben kann wie kaum woanders.
— Stefan Schickhaus, Frankfurter Rundschau

As Norina in Don Pasquale at the Santa Fe Opera

[...] Brenda Rae - so impressive as the tragic Violetta in Pelly’s Traviata revival last season - emerged as the production’s comic center. Few coloratura sopranos could act as imaginatively drunk onstage or set up such a wicked rapport with the audience; we had to root for Rae’s Norina in her assault upon the hapless Pasquale. Rae employed her formidable coloratura not just to display her voice but to create a volatile character who was viperish yet full of sex appeal.
— Simon Williams, Opera News

As Violetta in La Traviata at the santa fe opera

Ms. Rae soared beautifully in the early going, but it was in her pianissimo singing that she really shone. Her assurance to Alfredo’s father that she would step aside from her romance with his son to protect the honor of the Germont family was ineffably touching, her death scene even more so.
— James R. Oestreich, The New York Times
What made this revival memorable was the Violetta of Santa Fe debutante Brenda Rae. [...] “Sempre libera,” whose coloratura she mastered with ease, was musically a showstopper and dramatically a frightening display of emotional abandon.
— Simon Williams, Opera News

Copyright © Brenda Rae, 2019