The soprano Julie Adams, from California, impressed me as the most mature of the winners with her elegant account of an aria from Debussy’s lyric cantata “L’ Enfant Prodigue” and an affecting performance of Mimi’s “Donde lieta uscì” from Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Her voice is rich, full and slightly earthy in an expressive way.
She is one hell of a Blanche. Her voice is plush and supple. She slides up to whispered apex notes, pierces them, then slithers back down. In Act 2, she sings an aria titled “Soft people have got to shimmer and glow,” where her voice reflects the iridescent colors of the orchestration. It’s lovely to hear.
As Blanche, Julie Adams gave a riveting performance that combined an apt air of unhinged fragility with a radiant, richly colored soprano that rose to diaphanous high notes in the arias “I Want Magic” and “I Can Smell the Sea Air.
In more than 25 years of covering this event, I’ve never seen a Merola finale as swamped by outsize talents as Saturday night’s was by soprano Julie Adams and tenor Casey Candebat. When these two took the stage just before the end of the program to blaze their way through the Act 2 duet from Mascagni’s “L’Amico Fritz,” the entire undertaking leapt to a new level.
Yet perhaps the most striking aspect of Adams’ artistry was her combination of plush tone and seeming effortless vocal power. Especially in the more expansive and dramatically charged parts of her recital, she lofted potent, long-breathed melodic lines that seemed to swell and fall with cunning naturalness. Climactic high notes landed firmly and without an edge; arching phrases surged and then subsided beautifully.
...As his love interest, and essentially the only female role, Julie Adams was the radiant diva Anna Sorensen. Her rich, creamy, agile soprano was of the highest quality, the kind that prompts excited “who-is-she?” intermission chatter (and beyond). Ms. Adams is entrusted to deliver a beautifully judged battlefield prayer, and boy, deliver it she did with heart-stopping effect. You read it here: We will be hearing much more from her.
In the role of Freia, the goddess of youth, Julie Adams turned in a stellar performance. When Adams first entered the stage to remonstrate with Wotan, dragged by the giants as their price for constructing Valhalla, she sang as if shot out of a cannon—incisive, urgent, and well-projected. Particularly notable was the tone she mustered as she chirped “Am I worth so great a ransom?” while lying on the floor beneath a pile of “gold.”