Janácek: OSUD - Zhivny

Bard Summerscape - Fisher Center for the Performing Arts

"From the opening of Act II Zhivny dominates the stage, beginning gently and happily, singing quite tenderly as he recalls a loving letter he wrote to Mila and progressing to enraged self-reproach before the catastrophic closing moments. It might seem that there was nothing left to top the melodrama of that closing, but Janácek contrives an even stronger climax at the end of Act III, with Zhivny’s final convulsive outpouring. It's a solo scene lasting well over six minutes, and it takes everything a tenor's got to give. The tenor of the occasion handled it wonderfully: Michael Hendrick, a veteran of Chicago Lyric, Washington Opera, and New York City Opera, commanded both power and pathos, and in addition revealed, in earlier scenes and calmer moments, a marked sweetness of tone."
~ Shirley Fleming, MusicalAmerica.com

"In the cruelly exacting high tessitura of the protagonist, Michael Hendrick revealed impressive stamina and an attractive, powerful "young dramatic" voice ideally suited to leading Czech tenor roles."
~ David Shengold, Opera News

"Michael Hendrick, as Zivny, the composer, gained steam throughout the play to deliver a shattering closing aria."
~ Paul Rapp, Metroland Online

"The tessitura of this tough monologue seemed to suit Mr. Hendrick; after a couple of acts in which his voice sounded a little strained and grainy on top, he settled here into smoother and clearer singing."
~ Anne Midgette, The New York Times

"Heading the excellent cast was Michael Hendrick as the composer. With a strong tenor voice hinting at a wail, he was the picture of an intellectual confronted with a life of emotional suffering. His lengthy final aria was part life confession and part music lecture ("the dissonant chords of life beat on"). Though the metaphors wore a bit thin, it was a fascinating coda that surely revealed some of Janacek's own thoughts."
~ Joseph Dalton, Albany Times-Union

"Janacek's depressing story centers on Mila (Christine Abraham), who has an out-of-wedlock child with the composer Zivny (Michael Hendrick) and has been kept away from him by her mother (Linda Roark-Strummer)... Zivny, thinking Mila has betrayed him, composes an angry opera that is a fictionalized account of the events, then reunites with her at the spa where they first met. Four years later, after the pair marry, the mother visits them, gets into an argument, and the mother and daughter go over the balcony to their deaths... The final act is set 11 years later, when an excerpt of the opera is in rehearsal, and the students realize the still-unfinished work is about the composer's life. The opera closes with sort of a male Libestod, with Zivny collapsing while fixated on the image of his dead wife... Abraham, looking gorgeous in red dresses, was impressive and intense as Mila, dominating the stage whenever she was on it, and Hendrick and Roark-Strummer also gave highly polished accounts."
~ Ronald Blum, The Associated Press