“Tenor Santiago Ballerini sang the title role. His light yet sonorous voice lent itself well to Bel Canto singing, and he is one of the era’s top interpreters. He had excellent agility as he moved through the fioritura and had no issues sending his voice over the orchestra. Most impressive was his use of dynamics and head voice. He went from full-throated fortes to the gentlest pianissimos with utmost surety. Lehmann gave plenty of room for each singer to take their time, and Ballerini certainly did so without seeming overdramatic. Lehmann’s colla voce approach toned down the band or extended pauses. This allowed Ballerini to show off what was a mystifying head voice of such gentle persuasion of the dramatic significance of the passage that left little doubt about what he was expressing. Likewise, the more intense sections where the tone and shading of the lines were an emotional barometer.”
“The well-coached principal singers brought legato elegance and dramatic intensity to their roles. Tenor Santiago Ballerini was a splendid Poliuto, stylishly balancing his furious outbursts with his intimations of the divine, especially in his Act 2 aria.”
“Santiago Ballerini’s lyric tenor has the thrust and brilliance to express Poliuto’s quicksilver emotional turns – heroism, romantic ardor, all-consuming jealousy, compassion and religious fervor – with both artistry and passion. Ballerini was equally compelling dramatically with a stoic, commanding presence that befitted both a Roman soldier and a Christian martyr.”
“Ballerini had no difficulties with the exacting title role and his tone is naturally brilliant, warm and Italianate. He was very much the star of the evening. Ballerini’s broad breath span, intensely focused tone and brilliant overtones filled out the music beautifully and vividly delineated Poliuto’s conflict between marital jealousy and Christian devotion.
In the protagonist’s second act scena, Ballerini effectively enacted Poliuto’s emotional conflict by alternating between a sweet mezza voce and darker declamatory phrasing. Lehnea and Ballerini brought the Act III final duet to moving life with brilliant singing and sensitive and deeply committed interpretations.”
“All ears were on the star tenor, Poliuto, here sung by Santiago Ballerini… his youthful, full, large-lyric sound filled the hall. A hero after all, his second-act aria, a grand display of strength (a serious precursor of Verdi’s grand tenor roles) which was performed uncut, was capped by the type of high Cs that people recall for months. His last-act duet with Paolina rocked the house.”
“I wished the tenor had more to do before the second of three acts (when Ballerini blew the roof off)…”