Floyd: OF MICE AND MEN - Lennie Small

Washington National Opera - The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.

Stunning… Tenor Michael Hendrick as Lennie gives what probably will be regarded as one of this season's great performances. He negotiated Lennie's difficult vocal part with only the slightest sign of strain during last week's premiere. From the standpoint of stage drama, he imbued his character with layers of complexity, joining extremely physical acting to a surprisingly sweet tenor voice that makes Lennie's dark side all the more jarring. Mr. Hendrick's Lennie is clearly good at heart but not in touch at all with normal human boundaries or appropriate behavior, or most particularly with his own strength. Like fellow ranch-hand Candy's worn-out old dog, which is finally put down by a co-worker, there is only one possible ending for a misfit such as Lennie… you'll have to experience this for yourself.
~ The Washington Times

The loudest (ovation) was justly granted to tenor Michael Hendrick’s endearing portrayal of the childish giant Lennie, who loves to stroke soft, furry things but never comprehends why they die under his unknowingly brutal caresses. Brilliant, subtle facial expression, clumsy walk and self-conscious hand gestures lent credibility to the character. Solid vocal technique and complete comfort with Floyd’s musical idiom made Hendrick’s performance compelling. No wonder Mr. Hendrick was chosen toreceive the Washington Opera Guild’s 2001 Martin and Bernice Feinstein Artist of the Year award at the end of the season.
~ Intermission

Sarasota Opera - Sarasota, Florida (USA)

In the final tragic moments of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, a handsome, well-dressed woman began quietly weeping, continuing without letup until the end of the opera. “I’m sorry,” she said after the house lights came up. 'I knew what was coming but I couldn’t help myself. It was just so powerful.'... Floyd’s 1970 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s tragic tale of George, his retarded friend Lennie and their thwarted American dream received a deeply moving and emotionally harrowing performance Sunday afternoon, presented by Sarasota Opera. The production was not only the high point of the company’s American Classics Series, but one of its finest efforts over the last decade... Michael Hendrick came in at the 11th hour to save the production. The veteran tenor sang with a mellow tone and sweet top notes. Dramatically, Hendrick conveyed the endearing vulnerability of the handicapped man who likes to stroke soft things as well as his propensity to sudden, fearful reactive violence.
~ Lawrence A. Johnson, The Classical Review

Tenor Michael Hendrick and baritone Sean Anderson starred as Lennie Small and George Milton, respectively, in the Sarasota Opera production, and it's hard to imagine these two outcasts portrayed any better... As the hulking, childlike Lennie, Hendrick gave a performance that contained both scary violence and tenderness, as in his superbly nuanced Act III soliloquy in which, having just killed Curley's Wife, he waited in the dark woods for his protector once again to save him: "Hurry up, George, an' find me/ I'm so cold."
~ John Fleming, Opera News

Hendrick, a last-minute replacement for the tenor originally slated to sing Lennie, has made this role his own by slipping into the skin of this lovable but dangerous galoot with such a tight fit, vocally and emotionally, it’s hard to think of him as anyone else. Hendrick, who’s sung everything from Bacchus in “Ariadne” at the Met to Parsifal with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, has a soaring tenor voice that seems endless in range, color and depth. Yet, his acting is so skilled, his characterization so complete, you forget he’s singing; with remarkable enunciation and body language, he totally personifies Lennie.
~ June LeBell, The Observer Group

Tenor Michael Hendrick and baritone Sean Anderson star as Lennie Small and George Milton, respectively, in the Sarasota Opera production that opened Saturday night, and it's hard to imagine these iconic outcasts portrayed any better.... As the hulking Lennie, Hendrick combines child-like tenderness and scary violence in superbly nuanced singing.
~ John Fleming, The Tampa Bay Times

Their final scene is tragically gripping and bestows the finality this strange work demands. On Saturday evening, that reward was greatly appreciated by a hushed audience as the impressive protagonists (Michael Hendrick as Lennie and Sean Anderson as George) and the superb orchestra, under the direction of David Neely, brought the opera to its inevitable close.
~ Richard Storm, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Arizona Opera - Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

The Tucson Convention Center Music Hall crowd of 1,600 thundered its approval of the two hour and 15 minute work, saving its most enthusiastic applause for tenor Michael Hendrick, who played the lumbering innocent Lennie. There were many great performances last night, chief among them those of Hendrick. Hendrick's Lennie captured in the fullest sense the childlike innocence of this hulk of a man. In the opening scene, when George tells Lennie that despite the trouble he causes, George will stick by him, Hendrick dances around like a 4-year old with a balloon. When the puppy that Lennie too vigorously strokes dies, Hendrick throws its lifeless corpse to the ground like a spoiled child. And when George tells Lennie at the close to look across the river and see the farm they'll someday have, Hendrick's fidgeting feet tell a tale of uncluttered, childlike joy. Vocally, Hendrick was impressive, sporting a big, warm sound from top to bottom, handily projected to the cheap seats.
~ The Arizona Citizen

Heading a powerful, unforgettable cast is tenor Michael Hendrick as Lennie Small. Hendrick projects an indefatigably naive figure, a character of kitten-like sanguineness capable of transformation into pantherish fury. Floyd gives him music equal to the sensibility, simple constructed but all over the range and very exposed. The score frequently calls for Lennie to pull high notes out of the blue, which Hendrick does with impeccable taste.
~ The Arizona Republic

(A) stellar vocal and dramatic performance by Michael Hendrick as Lennie.
~ Arizona Daily Star

Utah Opera - Salt Lake City, Utah (USA)

Tenor Michael Hendrick was awe-inspiring as the half-wit Lennie. He brought the pathetic, gentle giant to life on stage, and presented his struggle honestly and nobly. His clear, pure voice range with guileless pathos, and he appeared to be about 9 feet tall.
~ Deseret News

Michael Hendrick played Lennie as ‘just a big kid,’ in keeping with the composer’s stated intentions. His steady, secure tenor captured the young man’s physical power as well as his innocence, most affectingly in the barn scene with Curley’s Wife, his large stature and boyish face adding to his believability.
~ Opera News

Kentucky Opera - Louisville, Kentucky (USA)

"Hendrick rendered Lennie with indisputable authority. He could caress a phrase suggesting complete innocence, and then in an instant create a sensation of utter, frightening menace.... Contemporary opera offers few human beings who are so different from each other, yet so intractably codependent. And in bass Rod Nelman and tenor Michael Hendrick, Kentucky Opera has a pair of singers fully capable of translating Steinbeck's inexhaustible yearning into potent theater."
~ Andrew Adler, Kentucky Courier-Journal

"Singing and dramatic intensity were at fever pitch. At the intermission, it was announced that Michael Hendrick (Lennie Small) was "indisposed," a condition that he had gamely concealed during Act I. Nonetheless, Hendrick sang with plenty of power and gusto, a bit restrained in his acting but turning in a most powerful performance throughout."
~ Charles H. Parsons, Opera News

2013: Sarasota Opera
2010: Kentucky Opera
2001: Washington National Opera (Artist of the Year)
2000: Arizona Opera
1999: Utah Opera