February 16, 2014Review

Opera San Jose-Madama Butterfly February 2014

Richard Scheinin-San Jose Mercury News
"As Suzuki, Butterfly's maid, mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland once again showed off her dark, full dramatic voice, and waited, appropriately, until that agonizing last act to sing with the uninhibited power she so readily can summon. The company is lucky to have her."

Mort Levine-Fremont Bulletin
"Mezzo Soprano Nicole Birkland as the long-suffering Suzuki, the housekeeper who tried to comfort the stricken heroine, was a strong stage presence and an outstanding voice."

September 13, 2013Review

Opera San Jose-Falstaff September 2013

Richard Scheinin-San Jose Mercury News
"Among the other cast members, resident mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland (as Dame Quickly) was best able to go toe-to-toe with Bearden's unwavering power. Especially in its lower reaches, her voice was imposing -- sound the alarms!"

Mort Levine-Milpitas Post
"Nicole Birkland brought a lush mezzo to her portrayal of Dame Quickly."

February 09, 2013Review: Opera San Jose's 'Il Trovatore' features Nicole Birkland, a tour de force in opening night cast

Opera San Jose-Il trovatore February 2013
Richard Scheinin-San Jose Mercury News

In the run-up to her company's winning new production of Verdi's "Il Trovatore," Opera San Jose general director Irene Dalis has been singing the praises of young mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland. A resident artist this season, Birkland sings the signature role of Azucena, the wronged and vengeful Gypsy woman -- a role Dalis made her own when she was a mezzo at the Metropolitan Opera half a century ago.

"I've been waiting for this kind of voice," Dalis said in an interview, describing Birkland's portrayal as "exactly what I would want to be able to do." That's high praise, and one wondered if some hyperbole was involved. But, after watching Birkland's hair-raising performance Saturday -- opening night for "Trovatore" at the California Theatre -- one understands the buildup. Birkland was a tour de force. It was as if the valve had been opened on a fire hydrant, releasing a torrent of glorious and passionate singing.

Birkland rose above the rest of the cast, most notably in Act II's famous Gypsy camp scene, where Azucena sings two celebrated numbers: "Stride la vampa" ("The blaze is crackling") and "Condotta ell'era in ceppi" ("She was led in chains").

The plot has its absurdities, but the music is spectacular: Verdi in flight. As was Birkland, arriving on stage with clenched fists and contorted face, a vision of pent-up fury. Her voice was richly and darkly colored throughout its considerable range, from rock-solid bottom to flutelike top. Immersed in the role, she didn't project her voice so much as propel it, building to this climax: "My son, my son, I burned my son" This was a true, dramatic mezzo performance by Birkland, an emerging singer who deserves to be widely heard.

February 09, 2013Review

Opera San Jose-Il trovatore February 2013
Georgia Rowe-San Francisco Classical Voice-

"Nicole Birkland’s strong, vibrant mezzo was an asset in her Act 1 duet with Manrico." Birkland, shaded her voice into an instrument of dark, focused fury, made her scene in the Gypsy camp riveting."

February 05, 2013Irene Dalis and Nicole Birkland chat about the role of Azucena in Verdi's 'Il Trovatore'

November 11, 2012Review

Opera San Jose-Die Fledermaus November 2012
Richard Scheinin-San Jose Mercury News
"In her company debut, resident mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland was hilarious as Orlofsky: anchoring the party scenes with her meaty singing, and speaking with the most absurd Russian accent."

San Francisco Opera-Nixon in China June/July 2012
Marina Romani-AP
"Mao's three secretaries, Ginger Costa-Jackson, Buffy Baggott, and Nicole Birkland, were wonderful in their rendition of Adams's score, conveying a physical and aural sense of claustrophobia and adoration around the Chairman."

Lawrence A Johnson,-Classical Review
"Ginger Costa-Jackson, Buffy Baggott and Nicole Birkland showed apt unsmiling efficiency as well as strong voices as the echoing chorus of Mao’s secretaries. "

Bach Chorale, Lafayette, Indiana-Verdi Requiem October 2010
Richard Jeager-Journal & Courier
"...mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland's rich color was especially apparent in the "Liber Scriptus."

Opera Cleveland-Lucia di Lammermoor May 2010
Donald Rosenberg-The Plain Dealer
"Nicole Birkland sends her robust mezzo-soprano into every corner of the house as Alisa."

Wichita Grand Opera-The Mikado November 2009
Bob Curtright-The Wichita Eagle
"Nicole Birkland, garnered praise in the role of Pitti-Sing as a "powerful mezzo" with "thunder."

Chautauqua Opera-Il Trovatore July 2009
Robert Finn-Chautauquan Daily
"Among the secondary parts there were fine contributions from mezzo Nicole Birkland as Inez."

Merola Opera-Grand Finale August 2008
Janos Gereben-San Francisco Classical Voice
“...in the Rigoletto Quartet...In the too-brief mezzo role, Nicole Birkland made her mark."
"Among lengthy excerpts, standouts were from…and an Act II scene from
Lohengrin with Kate Crist as Elsa and Nicole Birkland as Ortrud."

Steven Winn-San Francisco Chronicle
“Soprano Kate Crist and mezzo Nicole Birkland did some powerhouse singing in "Ortrud! Wo bist du?" from Wagner's Lohengrin."

Merola Opera-Albert Herring July 2008
Joshua Kosman-San Francisco Chronicle
"Standouts in the rest of the cast included mezzo-soprano Nicole Birkland, giving an energetic and impassioned performance as Lady Billows' housekeeper and confederate Florence Pike."

Caroline Crawford-Bay City News
"...Nicole Birkland was a strong-voiced Miss Pike..."

Indiana University-Les contes d'Hoffmann April 2008
Herald Times
"Nicole Birkland lifted her fine mezzo voice in behalf of the courtesan Giulietta."

Indiana University-Verdi Requiem February 2008
Herald Times
"The four soloists — faced with the daunting task of battling extremes in their vocal ranges while, sometimes, also having to match and master the choral competition in fortissimo mode — deserve special commendation. The two women….Nicole Birkland, with a sumptuous tonal harvest from top to bottom — were outstanding."