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2019.04.24 Concert with Ermonela Jaho – Smetana Hall, Prague

Concert with Ermonela Jaho and Simon Keenlyside

Smetana Hall, Prague

Wednesday 24 April 2019, 7.30 pm


Simon Keenlyside, baritone

Ermonela Jaho, soprano

Lukasz Borowicz, conductor

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra





Si può? (Tonio)

I Pagliacci


Vissi d’arte (Tosca)

Tosca, Act II

GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901)

Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima (Renato)

Un ballo in maschera, Act III


Un bel dì, vedremo (Cio-Cio-San)

Madama Butterfly, Act II

GIUSEPPE VERDI (1813-1901)

Credo in un Dio crudel (Jago)

Otello, Act II

Ave Maria, (Desdemona)

Otello, Act IV

La traviata (overture)

Madamigella Valery? – Sono io (Giorgio Germont and Violetta)

La traviata, Act II



Io son l’umile ancella (Adriana)

Adriana Lecouvreur, Act II

JULES MASSENET (1842-1912)

Vision fugitive (Hérode)

Hérodiade, Act II


Depuis le jour (Louise)

Louise, Act III


Scintille, diamant  (Dapertutto)

Les contes d’Hoffmann, Act II


Mamma? Io non l’ho avuta mai (Zazà)

Zazà, Act III

Zazà, piccolo zingara (Cascart)

Zazà, Act IV

FRANZ LEHÁR (1870-1948)

Lippen schweigen (Hanna & Danilo)

Die lustige Witwe, Act III


Puccini: O mio babbino caro (Lauretta), Gianni SchicchiErmonela Jaho

Mozart:  Non più andrai (Figaro),  Le nozze di Figaro – Simon Keenlyside

Mozart:  Là ci darem la mano (Don Giovanni & Zerlina), Don Giovanni – Simon Keenlyside & Ermonela Jaho


Official Photo Gallery

These photos are all copyright Nachtigall Artists Management and photographer Petr Dyrc. They are reproduced here with the kind permission of Mrs Alena Kunertova Nachtigalova of Nachtigall Artists Management and the photographer.


Photo Gallery


Sound bites

Novinky.cz, 25.04.19, Vladimír Říha

Baritone scenes performed by Simon Keenlyside

Review by Vladimír Říha

Translated by Jana

After four years, British baritone Simon Keenlyside returned to Prague. He brought Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho to the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House as a partner. This time he focused on famous baritone scenes from operas by Italian and French composers. It was an absolutely exceptional evening.

Keenlyside, now Sir Simon (he received the title from the Queen last year), has besides a distinct resonant voice the advantage of a “roguish” look reminding rather of “the boy next door”, who is  moreover  at home on the stage and gets the audience’s attention right away.

From the initial entrance down the aisle on the ground floor (singing the role of Tonio from I Pagliacci by Leoncavallo), he gained control over the audience and proved that he is, so to speak, at home both in romantic and verismo roles of the world repertoire.

Not very well-known in our country, the soprano was a great partner to him and also in solo arias she showed herself as a rising star. The dynamics of the accompanying SOČR orchestra  sometimes drowned out her soprano. The Polish conductor Lukasz Borowicz  did not always balance it precisely.

The inclusion  of the arias from the opera Zaza by Ruggero Leoncavallo in the second part of the concert was innovative. After the final operetta duet from Lehár’s Merry Widow, the soloists rewarded the audience with three encores (Mozart and Puccini).


KlasikaPlus.cz, 26.04.19, Petr Veber

He And She. Keenlyside and Jaho, two singing stars

Review by Petr Veber

Translated by Jana

 “The baritone behaves casually, performs with the whole body, sings persuasively – and shows a spontaneous comic talent. “

 „Louise‘’s aria was a beautiful number – a seldom heard opera scene.”

“They sang duets as real dramatic scenes.”

Simon Keenlyside’s and Ermonela Jaho’s recital on Wednesday offered to the Prague audience in the Municipal House the art of an opera old hand and the art of a new young star. The baritone and soprano really met – not only in a few duets, but also in an imaginative way: in their ability to engage listeners in a moment and to communicate with them. And the programme, accompanied by the Radio Symphony Orchestra, also pleasingly covered some seldom heard arias.

The British singer is an absolute master in making contact with the audience. He behaves quite casually on the stage, performs with his whole body, sings persuasively – and shows a spontaneous comic talent in comic roles. With his personality he is more of a common man type. Ermonela Jaho makes contact differently – very emotionally and more stylized and nobler  in gestures. A real opera diva with expressive slow hand movements; when accompanying high notes, her fingers point upward and freeze in a picturesque position. Keenlyside, on the other hand, looks restless, hyperactive, uses his hands to help – expressing accents with them as in quick speech. He should be careful of the right hand, it is nearly a tic. But he sings – which is of course the most important thing, even at his hard-to-believe almost 60 years of age – beautifully, flawlessly, smoothly, lustily and at full blast. He gives out musical joy, strength and energy.

The first moments of Keenlyside’s presence in the hall already indicated that he is not a soloist who sings his number indifferently and goes away again. During the orchestral prologue to Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, he came down the middle aisle of the Smetana Hall. He had a coat and a hat and at first looked like a latecomer. But when he started to climb the steps to the stage, it became apparent that he was part of the programme… And then the singing and acting “concert” began. He performed and sang the scene of Tonio as a sophisticated, very natural stage study, supported by an impressive cantilena including the highest tones. His vocal type is related to Thomas Hampson, for example, which means delicate, round and soft, balanced and the same in all positions. But Keenlyside goes further in his temperament. He showed it after all also in the interpretation of the excited emotions of the introverted Renato of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera and even more in Jago‘s scene from Verdi´s Otello – here in a much more dramatic way (…). And the way he played with Desdemona´s handkerchief, which brings the jealous Otello to ruin later in the opera, will remain in the memory. The aria “Vision fugitive” sung by Hérode in Massenet´s Hérodiade belonged to the less frequently performed operas; it had an impressive thrust and nice nuances in dynamics. Also the arias from Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Zaza brought lovely moments – the cantilena with cellos in Offenbach and impressive, very naturally mastered agogic in Leoncavallo.

The soprano gave her arias a darker voice in timbre at the bottom and softer on top, an adequately strong, clean, not yet dramatic, voice capable of expression. The voice, however, occasionally arouses consideration of delicacy of the boundaries of the most perfect intonation. She expressed both eagerness and tragedy as Cio-Cio-San, as Desdemona in Ave Maria – in the first half of the usually performed and recorded extensive scene – she managed to keep beautiful pianissimo. For the roles of Tosca and Adriana Lecouvreur, she has no such volume of voice fund as some female artists, for whom there is no way back from such roles any more; therefore, she endowed them with an undertone of vulnerability as well as with sufficiently believable tension. Louise’s aria from the third act of Charpentier’s opera of the same name was a beautiful number: not only thanks to the interpretation with convincing agogic, but also thanks to the colourfully instrumented and melodic music; it is an opera scene seldom heard this way. As encores the soprano sang Lauretta’s magical aria from Puccini’s comedy Gianni Schicchi and the baritone sang an irresistibly amusing Figaro’s aria from Le Nozze di Figaro.

Ermonela Jaho and Simon Keenlyside joined their forces truly congenially in the duets. They sang them as real dramatic scenes, played them, gave them psychology or humour at a really above-average level. Whether it was the serious scene of Violetta and father Germont before the interval, the light scene from Lehár’s Merry Widow at the official end of the evening or Giovanni and Zerlina in the encores. Opera and operetta became one genre, the stage experience with roles was obvious in their relaxed demeanour.  Simon Keenlyside proved to be a person who improvises and has such fun that he really makes his partner laugh.

Albanian-American singer Ermonela Jaho, currently famous especially as Violetta and Cio-Cio-San, performed in Prague for the first time. Simon Keenlyside for the third time – he sang for Nachtigall Artists in the Czech capital already in 2015 and 2017. His most frequent roles are Don Giovanni and Rigoletto, father Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Wolfram in Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra with conductor Łukasz Borowicz accompanied a series of nearly twenty diverse numbers in a committed and intent manner, but often in too high dynamics – and at least in one of the more delicate parts especially in the strings – in Verdi´s Otello – really audibly unevenly. The accompaniment of opera recitals is quite a difficult and truly thankless task… After all, it was not easy for the conductor – especially as the baritone walked around on the stage so extensively that it was necessary often to look backwards and sideways from the conductor’s podium.

Nevertheless, thanks to the charisma of both soloists, the whole evening had an expected course, combining the general listener’s delight in top singing artistry, awareness of getting to know another repertoire and the joy of the uniqueness of two particular artists.

The endless series of recitals, organized by Nachtigall Artists for years, cannot be exhausted – new and new candidates longing to achieve the highest goals are coming and will be coming to the world stage. Meeting them is a repetitive source of beautiful power.



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gudrun April 26, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Thank you for sharing all these wonderful photos of a great concert. With Ermonela Jaho, Simon had a partner who is an equally intense and expressive singer and actress. Their duets were THE highlights of a programme that consisted more or less of nothing else but highlights.
Verdi is my favourite opera composer and so especially the first part left me breathless with one dramatic and/ or touching gem following the other, culminating in the duet from “La Traviata”, so beautifully sung and acted in the very little space the singers had on stage in front of the orchestra.
The programme also gave the singers the opportunity to try out something new. It was a treat to hear Simon with three “new” arias: Iago’s Credo, “Scintille, diamant” from “Les contes d’Hoffmann” and (as an encore) “Non più andrai” from “Le nozze di Figaro”. Iago sounded really villainous, Dapertutto very tempting, but could have been a little more demoniacal, and Figaro was as rebellious as one could wish for. (I imagined Simon singing this aria in the presence of himself as the Count 😉 This kind of double role would be interesting to watch … in a film.)
Thank you Ermonela, Simon, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, their conductor Lukasz Borowicz and Nachtigall Artists for a truly spectacular experience!

Greetings from Leipzig

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