Critical Acclaim for Bryan Hymel's "Héroïque"

NPR Classical/Presto Classical

From NPR Music
February 25, 2015

Listen to Asile héréditaire

Pavarotti, roll over. There's a new king of the high Cs. His name is Bryan Hymel and he pops off no fewer than 10 of them in "Asile héréditaire," the Rossini aria that opens his new album Héroïque, released Tuesday.

To be fair, Hymel's brawny tone has little in common with the sunny Italian sound of Pavarotti. And that's just the point. Hymel's voice is rare these days: a combination of Wagnerian muscle and bel canto refinement, comfortable in the stratospheric register (look out for a couple of C-sharps and one high D on the album), strong enough to soar above a full orchestra and suave enough for sweet-toned love scenes.

Arnold Melchtal, a character in Rossini's operatic version of the William Tell legend, is another taxing role, infrequently risked by tenors today. But Hymel makes his aria "Asile héréditaire" sound easy. The character returns to his birthplace to whip up vengeance (with a chorus of Swiss confederates) for the murder of his father.

Make sure to listen all the way to the end to hear Hymel cap off the aria with staggeringly long-held high Cs. This is why we listen to opera!

Read the full review here.

From Presto News
February 23, 2015

French Opera Arias from Bryan Hymel and Piotr Beczala

Two recital-discs of nineteenth-century French opera arias from two leading young tenors this week – and no repertoire overlap whatsoever between them!

First up is a disc due out next week from Warner’s new signing Bryan Hymel, the phenomenal young American who shot to international prominence recently when both Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera called upon him to jump in at short notice for one of the most difficult-to-cast roles in the entire repertoire, Aeneas in Berlioz’s five-hour epic Les Troyens.

If Hymel didn’t exist, as the old adage goes, it would be necessary to invent him – at least if you were a major opera-house wanting to stage anything by Berlioz, Meyerbeer or one of the lesser-spotted nineteenth-century French composers who echoed Lord Byron’s famous desire for a hero. This beautifully curated and unusual programme explores the development of this desire over the course of a hundred years or so, from the high-flying virtuosity of Rossini to the almost Expressionist sound-world of Ernest Reyer’s Sigurd (a pre-Wagner treatment of the Siegfried myth) and the ripe late-Romanticism of Henri Rabaud’s Rolande et le mauvais garçon (no, me neither until last week – but here’s hoping that Hymel’s tremendous advocacy might bring some of these curiosities to the stage one day soon!).

What makes Hymel stand out is that he’s endowed with an almost freakish combination of vocal qualities which hardly ever come together in one singer. As I mentioned in my review of that Troyens DVD from Covent Garden, it’s a rare man who can substitute for both the world’s reigning bel canto tenor Juan Diego Flórez and superstar heavyweight Jonas Kaufmann in the space of a couple of seasons - but Hymel pulled off both with aplomb, thanks to his sheer horse-power and absolute ease in the highest register (he can pop out top Cs ‘til the cows come home, and in fact there are 19 of them on this disc!). He opens with an extended scene from Guillaume Tell, which lies murderously high even by Rossini standards; the handful of tenors who sing it at all tend to be light bel canto specialists, but the visceral thrill of hearing a voice with Hymel’s full-bodied heroic ‘ring’ scaling the heights is really quite something (watch the last two minutes or so of the video-trailer and I’m sure you’ll be as open-mouthed as I was!)

Read the full review here