June 27, 2023

Glowing praise for Gemma New and Opera Theatre of St. Louis for “Susannah”

Brandie Inez Sutton and the chorus of ‘Treemonisha.’ Photo Credit: Eric Woosley

‘Treemonisha,’ ‘Susannah’ and ‘Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra’ Reviews: Fatal Love and Outcasts’ Arias
By Heidi Waleson
Wall Street Journal
June 27, 2023

Gemma New was the spirited conductor.”

Read the full review here.

Photo Credit: Eric Woolsey

Saint Louis: Oh, Susannah!
By James Sohre
Opera Today
June 2023

“In fact, even before the first note occurred, Conductor Gemma New was rapturously welcomed to the podium with an ovation from her public. Anticipation was high, and she did not disappoint, eliciting an impassioned, richly detailed reading, that was nonetheless marked by a playful and balanced lightness, as well as a haunting melancholy when called for.”

“Maestra New was in consummate command throughout, proving especially adept at inexorably building to almost unbearable tension, and then delivering a passionate release of sound that was irresistibly goose-bump inducing. I have heard the Saint Louis Symphony play beautifully in the OTSL pit on many occasions, but never have they played better than on this occasion. Moreover, New partnered seamlessly with a vocally resplendent cast.”

“It is a crowning achievement for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to have mounted this remarkable evening in the theatre, led by three women at the top of their game: Gemma New, Patricia Racette, and Janai Brugger.”

Read the full review here.

Janai Brugger as Susannah Polk in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah. Photo Credit: Eric Woolsey

Review of Susannah at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
By Gerry Kowarsky
HEC Media
June 2023

“In every production this year, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has hit the ball out of the park, but Susannah is a grand slam. It has singing, playing, direction, and design of the highest order.”

“In a fascinating program essay, conductor Gemma New shares her deep understanding of Floyd’s music. She demonstrates the same insight in leading the St. Louis Symphony in a marvelous account of the score.”

Read the full review here.

Photo Credit: Eric Woolsey

Review: SUSANNAH at Opera Theatre Of Saint Louis
by Steve Callahan
Broadway World
June 14, 2023

“Maestra Gemma New raises her baton!  The music swells.  On the dark stage an orange gleam shines along the bottom edge of that church.  Is it Hell-fire?  It spreads up, up … and becomes merely, but gloriously—an Appalachian morning.”

“The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has opened Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah.  It is another splendid offering, well in keeping with this company’s world-class reputation.  It brings to the OTSL stage for the first time the breathtakingly beautiful voice of soprano Janai Brugger in the title role.”

“It’s a wonderful production, with major triumphs of music and design.”

Read the full review here.

Photo credit: Eric Woolsey

"Susannah" at Opera Theatre is a huge, harrowing hit
by Chuck Lavazzi
June 13, 2023

Susannah at Opera Theatre is a huge, harrowing hit. It’s brilliantly done and is not to be missed.”

“This is, in short, a production that grabs you by the throat from the beginning and never lets go.”

“Former St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Gemma New, who remains a great favorite with local audiences and critics (including yours truly), returns to lead her former colleagues in a splendid performance of Floyd’s score. Under the direction of Andrew Whitfield, the chorus radiates menace.”

Read the full review here.

Photo Credit: Opera Theatre of St. Louis

God, Guns, and Gossip: OTSL Delivers a Sparkling Susannah
By Rob Levy
June 14, 2023

“This poignant opera guided by returning director Patricia Racette, is filled with raw emotion. Her production transforms a McCarthy-era work of social criticism into an opera that rubs raw nerves and confronts the duplicity of small towns, religion, and sham evangelism that exist today.”

“This matchless presentation is complemented by a fantastic score conducted by Gemma New. The former resident conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra relies on musical storytelling to frame the tragedy found in Carlisle Floyd’s opera.”

“Gemma New, herself in the midst of a glorious performance, took advantage of a musical pause to set aside her baton, fold her hands and take in the moment before joining the audience in their thunderous applause for Brugger.”

“OTSL has created an opera that speaks to us today through its contemporary feminist themes and commentary on church dogma. The best opera of the season, Susannah is not to be missed.”

“The best performance of Opera Theatre’s 2023 season…”

Read the full review here.

Photo Credit: Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Belated premiere of 'Susannah' at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is well worth the wait
By Mark Bretz
Laude News
June 20, 2023

“[Susannah is] a hauntingly beautiful presentation directed by Patricia Racette and conducted by Gemma New, making it the first production to be led by both a female stage director and female conductor.”

“Each of Susannah’s musical styles is given superior treatment by the magnificent reading of the score by the inspired Gemma New and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.”

“New’s essay in the show’s program notes tells a fascinating story about how each instrument plays a significant role in the story’s sober telling and is highly recommended for perusal before viewing this wondrous version of Susannah.”

“Racette’s incisive direction, New’s spirited conducting and the efforts of the entire company make OTSL’s production of Susannah a stunning tour de force and a rapturous conclusion to its 2023 season.”

Read the full review here.