SANTA BARBARA INDEPENDENT
This production was blessed with a trio of powerhouse leads, with Eleni Calenos’s Tosca winning our affections and admiration for her vocal focus - especially on the haunting aria “Vissi d’arte” (“I lived for art”).
THE VOICE MAGAZINE
In the title role of Floria Tosca, Greek soprano Eleni Calenos easily took command of the stage as well as her character...
A classic Puccini heroine, Tosca becomes increasingly self-aware and courageous as the opera progresses and circumstances become more threatening. So too Calenos, whose voice became powerfully steely as Tosca’s act of just murder and self-sacrifice takes its inevitable course.
GIULIETTA E ROMEO
As Giulietta, Greek soprano Eleni Calenos sang with a strong sense of phrasing and verismo style, and she acted the role with compelling intensity. There was real chemistry between her and her Romeo, Matthew Vickers, whose beautifully produced lirico-spinto was a pleasure to hear. Both of these roles are strenuous, requiring great stamina and extremes of range".
Greek soprano Eleni Calenos did have tonal edge on her forte high notes but was a stylish interpreter with a fascinatingly complex smoky middle register full of resin and shifting dark colors. Calenos is a slender petite woman with a big voice. She has natural stage presence as I witnessed in her Tosca with Loft Opera some years ago in a bus depot in Bushwick. Like other Greek sopranos we could mention, Calenos makes good use of text and dramatic intention.
Courier & Press (Evansville, Indiana)
Eleni Calenos, as Liu, the truly tragic character in the opera, performed with touching tenderness her long aria in Act III.
VoiceSB.com (Santa Barbara)
Soprano Eleni Calenos (Cio-Cio San/Madama Butterfly) commanded attention immediately for her enormous and carefully nuanced vocal prowess. Gifted with a superb and open high register, her intelligently defiant interpretation of the ill-starred title role was a brilliant and calibrated progression from the character’s 15-year old emotional naivete to her final defeat as a mature mother some years later, forced to surrender her child to strangers.
Noozhawk.com (Judith Smith Meyer)
As the title character, Cio-Cio San, soprano Eleni Calenos brought tireless power to another of Puccini’s lead roles after inhabiting Mimi in last season’s Opera Santa Barbara production of "La Boheme. "The composer and vocalist are a perfect match. Her power and energy are remarkable. Her movement and the affect she can portray simply through posture are a pleasure to listen to and watch.
Eleni Calenos was magnificent in the challenging role of Cio-Cio-san. Does casting the role with a non-Asian performer in 2019 naturalize cultural appropriation? Or is Puccini among the first composers to offer a critique of cultural imperialism? The answer at this point is surely a qualified “yes” to both. Thanks to her rigorous yet stirring approach, Calenos brought the kind of tact and self-awareness to the role that will help it survive in the new century.
But the opera really hinges on the role of the consumptive seamstress Mimi. Soprano Eleni Calenos was an inspired choice, with her rich tone and exquisite control, shifting easily from timid introvert to passionate (and deeply wronged) lover. Her death scene in Act Four was wrenching and entirely believable.
Singing was high-quality throughout the opera. The clear-voiced soprano Eleni Calenos was a sympathetic Mimi opposite the robust tenor Mackenzie Whitney as Rodolfo...
"Η τραγουδίστρια (Eleni Calenos) ερμήνευσε με μεστό ηχόχρωμα και εξαιρετικά ομοιογενή φωνή, διατηρώντας τις ποιότητές της και στα πιο απαιτητικά σημεία, στα οποία απέδειξε ότι είναι ικανή και εξαιρετικά εκφραστική καλλιτέχνης. Σκηνικά αγαπά πολύ τις έντονες ρητορικές χειρονομίες, ενώ τα τονισμένα χαρακτηριστικά του προσώπου επιτείνουν τη θεατρικότητα της σκηνικής παρουσίας, η οποία δεν στερήθηκε μιας μικρής υπερβολής. Συνολικά επιβεβαιώθηκε η θετική εντύπωση που είχε αφήσει στην παγκόσμια πρώτη της όπερας Schoenerland στο Βισμπάντεν, καθώς μάλιστα είναι πολύ ουσιαστικότερη η εικόνα που δημιουργείς για έναν λυρικό καλλιτέχνη παρακολουθώντας τον σε έναν γνωστό ρόλο, που εν προκειμένω ήταν και ντεμπούτο για την τραγουδίστρια."
Voice Magazine (Santa Barbara):
"A heart-melting performance from Mimi, soprano Eleni Calenos, lent Opera Santa Barbara's solidly conceived 2018-2019 season opener, Giacomo Puccini's La Bohème at the Granada Theatre, emotional depth."
"Playing the seamstress Mimi, soprano Eleni Calenos offered a quietly profound performance of vocal power."
Broadway World Review:
"Calenos has a sweet and pliable soprano voice that made audience members join Rodolfo as he falls in love with Mimì. When she spoke of her love for spring and nature in her first aria, she established the personality her character would maintain."
Il Tabarro / Suor Angelica
"Calenos gave an exceptionally musical and heartfelt interpretation of a woman torn between her desire to be faithful and her need for an independent life."
"Like Tabarro, this work depends on the musical strength and dramatic gifts of its lead. As before, this operatic necessity is magnificently fulfilled. In her tour-de-force performance, Calenos (a powerful, rich spinto soprano) traces Angelica’s heartbreaking descent from anguish into trancelike despair."
"Eleni Calenos (Giorgetta) proved a find, a real verista who delivered the goods stylistically, with keen phrasing and darkly warm if occasionally resin-tipped vocalism."
"Calenos’ nun—ever the outsider—was extremely effective..."
"Much weeping filled the theater in the opera’s final scenes; surely Calenos deserved an initial solo “Butterfly bow” before the other much-applauded curtain calls."
The Pilgrim's Progress
Cape Cod Times:
"Soprano Eleni Calenos, both as the Branch Bearer and offstage as Voice of the Bird, sang with arresting lyric power."
Boston Classical Review:
"Eleni Calenos brought a radiant sound and vocal elegance to her brief roles as the Branch Bearer and Voice of a Bird."
Schönerland - world premiere (Saida)
"Die eindringlichste Figur ist die der Saida (Die Glückliche), eine Frau, die auf der Flucht ihre Identität verloren hat. Verkörpert wird sie emotionsstark von der griechischen Sopranistin Eleni Calenos, die hierbei ihr Deutschlanddebüt gibt.” - "The most poignant role is that of Saida (the happy one), a woman who has lost her identity in escaping. It is strongly emotionally portrayed by the Greek soprano Eleni Calenos, who makes her German debut."
“Aus dem Solistenensemble nimmt Eleni Calenos als Saida mit warm timbriertem und geradeaus geführtem Sopran für sich ein”. - "From the soloist ensemble, Eleni Calenos as Saida sings with a warm color and straight-forward soprano."
Die Deutsche Bühne:
"Unter den Flüchtlingen sind Figuren mit sprechenden Namen: Saida, was auf arabisch 'Die Glückliche' heißt, oder Dariush, was 'Das Gute festhalten' bedeutet, singen über ihre Traumata und Träume – und die Sopranistin Eleni Calenos und der Tenor Aaron Cawley leihen ihnen ihre kraftvoll-runden Schönklangstimmen dazu.” - "Among the refugees are characters with the following names: Saida, which means "The Happy one” in Arabic, or Dariush, which means "To Hold Good”. They sing about their trauma and dreams. Soprano Eleni Calenos and tenor Aaron Cawley lend their powerful, round, beautiful voices to them."
"Soprano Eleni Calenos delivered a brilliant and sensitive vocal performance as Giorgetta, torn between her lover Luigi and her husband Michele."
The Addison Independent:
"Soprano Eleni Calenos is marvelous as Giorgetta, and she soars in her duets with her two rivaling men."
"Eleni Calenos gave a performance for the ages, both vocally and dramatically. For all intents and purposes, she was Tosca. Her strongest efforts were in Act II, where they most belonged. The combination of fear, submission, rage, contempt and tender love required in this act all were delivered seamlessly. Her domination of Scarpia even in seeming defeat was overwhelmingly presented, and her “Vissi d’arte” was gloriously moving."
The Wall Street Journal:
"The real standout, however, was soprano Eleni Calenos's searing performance as Tosca--passionate, mercurial, heart-on-the-sleeve, with all the necessary vocal range, stamina and fire."
New York Times:
"From the moment she sauntered into the church in a hat and sunglasses, the soprano Eleni Calenos proved compelling as the jealous heroine, her soaring voice heard to vivid effect in “Vissi d’arte.”
The New Yorker:
"Calenos, a young Greek-born soprano, had the best outing. Secure in pitch, rich in expressive detail, knifelike at the climaxes, she seemed ready for a much bigger stage."
Broadway World Review:
"Most notable was soprano Eleni Calenos who embodied the petty jealousies of diva Floria Tosca without detracting from the opera itself. Her soaring voice and compelling acting provided thrills that left the audience cheering."
"When Calenos strutted into Zilberberg’s mise-en-scène, looking sophisticated in sunglasses and a sunhat, her presence kicked the proceedings into high gear, galvanized the space, and pricked the heart. Which is to say, her singing was some of the best I’ve heard in a long time—especially her middle register, which managed to be juicy, sonorous, and elegantly phrased all at once."
"In the title role, Eleni Calenos held the audience rapt from her first act entrance. A slim sword of a woman, she has a strong core in her voice, flexible and brightening under pressure without turning brittle or hard. A great outburst in the second act seemed to cut glass, drawing a shouted "Brava!" from the house. (No, it wasn't me.) She produced dulcet tone for the Act I duet, white-hot rage in the confrontation with Scarpia and had enough gas left to almost burn down the warehouse with an incendiary Trionfal! sung in close cadence with the tenor."
The Capital Times:
"Soprano ELENI CALENOS sings the role of Mimì with grace and agility, showcased on arias like “Sì, mi chiamano Mimì.” She also sparkles in duets with Whitney, as in Act III’s ensemble, “Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!” (“Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning”)..."
"The central role of Mimi, the irresistibly sweet heroine who succumbs to tuberculosis, was brought to winsome life by ELENI CALENOS. She technically made her company debut at last summer’s Opera in the Park, but this was her first stage appearance here. The voice is strong, attractive, unforced and she can act. Vivid evidence of this–and of the kinds of touches director David Lefkowich would bring–came in Act I when the ardent Rodolfo declares his passion; Calenos turns away from him coyly–and toward the audience, allowing us to see her unabashed joy at his affection..."
Boston Classical Review:
"As the Infanta (the king’s daughter), also enamored of Rodrigo, Eleni Calenos sang with admirable focus and agility, and an appropriately aristocratic bearing."
"Eleni Calenos displayed a limpid soprano as the king’s daughter, who also loves Rodrigue."
The Boston Musical Intelligencer:
"Soprano Eleni Calenos shone as the Infanta, who chose not to compete for the man she loved by reason of her higher rank. Her early duet with Chimène was one of the musical highlights of the evening. "
The Arts Fuse:
"Eleni Calenos proved charming as L’Infante, the King’s daughter who harbors her own attraction to Rodrigue: she sang the part beautifully, clear and bright-toned. The character is a bit of a throwaway – her feelings for Rodrigue are never fully explored and the potential for rivalry between L’Infante and Chimène left untapped – but Calenos played her about as sincerely and winningly as anyone could."
"Eleni Calenos as the Infante had the audience sit up and take notice as she entered looking for all the world like Audrey Hepburn in her sleek, white, off-the-shoulder gown, hair pulled tightly back in an elegant up-do. Her singing was equally elegant and refined."
Madison "Opera in the Park" concert
The Capital Times (Madison, WI):
"..Smith was working hard to sell the gathered masses on the opera's 2015-2016 indoor season. That shouldn't be a tough sell, thanks in part to soprano Eleni Calenos and tenor Harold Meers, both set to perform in '15- '16. They gave a gorgeous performance of the dramatic “O Soave Fanciulla” from Puccini's “La Boheme, Madison Opera's season opener. Calenos, who is set to play Mimi in “Boheme”, nearly stole the show with a stunning rendition of “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak's “Rusalka”, a romantic, meditative aria. In her agile soprano, it sounded like a prayer.”
Rutland Herald (Vermont):
" ...Still the most heart-wrenching moment came with the servant girl Liu's plea to Turandot to save Calaf's life. Soprano Eleni Calenos delivered the area beautifully, with the most affecting mix of drama and tenderness..."
Addison Independent (Vermont):
"...Winning the hearts of the audience from her first moments is warm-voiced soprano Eleni Calenos as the slave girl Liu. Her performance is endearing and her later death scene was very rewarding, beautifully sung and gracefully performed."
Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
"Mimi was sung by soprano Eleni Calenos from Greece, who sounded lovely in her first-act meeting with Rodolfo. Her duets with him were very special; both singers blended beautifully. Hers was a convincing and believable performance. Again, nicely understated."
"Silvia, movingly acted and sung here by Eleni Calenos, is a courtesan past her sell-by date."
Boston Classical Review:
"Soprano Eleni Calenos sang beautifully in the role of Silvia, with confidently soaring high notes and dusky middle tones. Lines were shapely and tapered and the delivery was emotive."
South Shore Critic:
"...Both singers (Eve Giglitotti & Eleni Calenos) performed the music extraordinarily well..."
My Entertainment World:
"Calenos as Silvia has a rich voice, powerful enough for opera and yet with a distinctive quality that brings out the sensitivity and weakness of her character."
Les Contes d'Hoffmann
South Florida Classical Review - Palm Beach Opera:
"Another standout was the Greek soprano Eleni Calenos as Antonia, the gifted but desperately ill singer who is Hoffmann's second love. In the aria "Elle a fui, la tourterelle," her voice retained its richness and ease of production all the way to the top, with a natural sense of phrasing and pathos. A wonderful moment came in her trio with the baritone Mark Delavan as the sinister Doctor Miracle and mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts as the spirit of her mother. With Delavan urging her on in his dark, robust voice, she sang with more and more intensity, with a sense of ecstasy, desperation and doom as she approached death."
Palm Beach Daily News:
"Other important roles were sang remarkably by Keri Alkema (Giulietta) and Eleni Calenos (a magnificent Antonia)."
The Courrier & Press - Evansville, Indiana:
"Calenos shone in the title role, with her exquisite soprano voicings and her dramatic portrayal of the naive geisha who gives up her religion, her family, her heritage and so much more in blind, loving devotion to the shallow, callow and lusting American looking for another foreign butterfly to pin onto his collection.
She dominated every scene, whether singing in a whisper or sending her voice climbing through the final, soaring passage of the opera's best known aria, "Un bel di (One Fine Day)," sailing over one the orchestra's biggest crescendos."
"...They howled and whistled for Calenos..."
Herald Tribune - Arts Sarasota:
"Gilda was brought to life by Eleni Calenos, a gifted soprano making her debut with the Sarasota Opera. Her portrayal was seamless, convincing and overwhelmingly tender. Not that there were significant demands on her voice. After a passionate duet encounter with the Hak Soo Kim's Duke of Mantua, Calenos soared nimbly through an unornamented "Caro Nome," the second most popular aria of this opera."
"Artistic director/conductor Victor DeRenzi was meticulous about casting for music, forging a solid Rigoletto in Marco Nistico and a soaring Gilda in Eleni Calenos."
"....Calenos' inspired Gilda...."
"...Eleni Calenos' rapturous, rich soprano was a pleasure at every turn in the role of Mimi."
"...Greek soprano Eleni Calenos, who played the role of the terminally ill Mimi was engaging with her huge vocal delivery and passionate acting."
Salt Lake Tribune:
"...Calenos stood out, soaring to bel canto perfection."
"Greek soprano Eleni Calenos proved to be an impressive powerhouse on the stage as a conflicted Donna Elvira."
The Herald Journal News:
"Calenos convincingly portrays the opera's most multi-dimensional character, a woman so conflicted that she's more than willing to forgive the rogue who betrayed her love."
"The beautiful Eleni Calenos, playing the heartbroken and conflicted Donna Elvira, bounced her voice off the walls, drawing mid-show "bravas".
"Calenos embodies her character, taking on the grace of a butterfly. Her walk is smooth as silk, and she holds her body in delicate poses, like a classic Japanese painting of a geisha framed in cherry blossoms."
"...As everyone sings, her creamy, rich voice rises powerfully over the full stage of singers."
"Eleni Calenos sang Donna Anna and her performance was the most consistently musical. She is to be thanked for giving this Shreveport audience everything, on every note."
The Boston Musical Intelligencer:
"... Calenos, who boasts of a gorgeous soprano voice and great control that made Verdi's melodies soar into the heavens, would be welcome on any operatic stage..."
The Boston Globe: "
"...As Liu, Eleni Calenos, a recent graduate of Boston University's Opera Institute, sang with an arresting, dark warmth..."
"...A graduate of the BU Opera Institute, Eleni Calenos performed the role of Liu, the unfortunate slave who sacrifices her life for her beloved Calaf. Waif-like in stature, Calenos nonetheless produced an impressive sound, proving, along with great recorded Lius like Tebaldi, Caballe and Scotto, that the part is well suited to a larger voice..."
"...Calenos phrased sensitively, and was an ingratiating stage presence..."
"...The phenomenon was the Cio-Cio-San of Greek soprano Eleni Calenos, whose nuanced characterization was a true wonder to hear. She sailed through her dramatic arias as if buoyed by the stirring music."
"...There was scant stage direction and little scenic atmosphere — we'll blame (hurricane) Ike and the hasty move to new digs — but with incandescent Calenos breaking our hearts, who cares?"
Le Nozze di Figaro
"...Eleni Calenos, as the Countess, melts hearts with her sumptuously sung Dove sono..."
New York Times:
"...Eleni Calenos sang with a strong, clear soprano and was persuasive as a suffering yet haughty Donna Elvira. She was dignified when Leporello cheekily recounted his master's conquests in the catalog aria and expressive in "Mi tradi quell' alma ingrata" as she agonized – as women probably always will – over her bad boy's inexplicable appeal..."