Caitlin Hulcup and Grant Doyle receive stunning reviews for Iphigénie en Tauride

10 December 2014

Pinchgut Opera’s incredibly well received production of Gluck’s final opera, Iphigénie en Tauride, was dominated by Caitlin Hulcup and Grant Doyle in the roles of Iphigénie and Orestes respectively, as numerous reviews attest:

‘As Iphigénie, mezzo soprano Caitlin Hulcup is quite remarkable. A woman on the verge, indeed, but every gesture of voice and body is eloquent and controlled. Her instrument is a pure stream of liquid silver, flowing in the arias, nuanced in the crucial Gluckian recitative. And her portrayal of poor Iphigénie, almost crushed beyond hope, and yet hanging in there by that shred of humanity that somehow manages to keep so many of us going, is an agony that we, the spectators, willingly become a part of. Ô malheureuses Iphigénie is heart-rending, ... powerfully sung and staged. ... Doyle is a stentorian baritone in the best sense, projecting great passion through the voice and capturing Orestes’ sense of doom and fury-haunted desperation. ... This is a very potent performance packed with first class singing.’
Clive Paget, Limelight

Grant Doyle is a stunning Orestes, occupying the role with a profound sense of fate, all the more devastating for its restraint. Vocally, he doesn’t hold back, unleashing one of the smoothest, most agile baritones I have heard in a while. As for the title role, Caitlin Hulcup carries this immense part with unfailing intensity, maintaining a purity of tone and fleetness of phrasing throughout the most turbulent of arias.’
Harriet Cunningham, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘As Iphigenie, Australian mezzo soprano Caitlin Hulcup sustained remarkable clarity and focus in her tour de force performance. Firm and secure across her tessitura, she displayed excellent dynamic control, impressive timbral variety and an alluring range of tone colours. ... Baritone Grant Doyle also impressed as Iphigenie’s tormented brother Orest. Maintaining a burnished, smokytoned timbre, he captured his character’s anguish, seamlessly shifting from quietly smouldering resentment to explosive rage.’
Murray Black, The Australian

‘A sense of anguish pours from Caitlin Hulcup’s grand performance as Iphigénie, vocally typified by glorious, emotive phrasing, a warm, even vibrato and demonstrative wide-ranging tonal colour. Hulcup fires from the start, maintaining her vigour in Act II’s mournful and piercing O malheureuse Iphigénie. Then, as if dabbing paint to music, Hulcup renders Act III’s Je cède à vos désirs: du sort qui nous opprime with a fierce delicacy as she agonises over her strange desire to free Oreste in feeling a mysterious bond. We know Oreste is her brother, electrifyingly powered by baritone Grant Doyle. Hulking in stature and voice, but soft as marshmallow inside, Doyle grasps Oreste with determined strength as he wills his life to be sacrificed for his friend Pylade. In his Act II opening aria, Dieux, à quelle horreurs m’aviez-vous réserve?, Doyle, immediately impresses and you wonder if he can find the reserve to sustain his performance, but he never disappoints, equally able to extrude a pianissimo of shapely beauty.’
Paul Selar, bachtrack

‘As Iphigenie, Caitlin Hulcup is superb. Stern and refined as the priestess she hides a compassionate heart. She sings divinely and is in glorious form with a warm tone. She is always conscious of the phrasing and shaping of the vocal line and very dramatically moving and convincing. ... Tall, bearded, scruffy Orestes, tormented and heroic, was brilliantly played by baritone Grant Doyle. His solos are fabulous, especially fine was his singing of Le calme rentre dans mon coeur.’
Lynne Lancaster, Performing Arts Hub

‘In the title role, Caitlin Hulcup sings with a beautifully warm, full and focused tone, ever attentive to the possibilities of phrasing and shaping the vocal line, and is consistently dramatically convincing and moving. She is well matched by baritone Grant Doyle who brings incisive and heroic directness to the tormented Orestes. Particularly fine was his singing of Le calme rentre dans mon coeur.’
Michael Halliwell, The Conversation

Hulcup is a classic mezzo-soprano, with all the toasty timbre that implies. Amazingly, given her virtuosity on her native instrument, she started life as a violinist and violist and perhaps it’s this that has endowed her with an uncommon awareness and sympathy for the totality of the form, rather than the sometimes egocentric ambivalence one suspects pertains to the odd prima donna here or there. Even at full tilt, her control is flawless and modulation never falters. Better yet, even while upholding this gold standard of musicality, she is able to imbue a fulsome emotional range: trembling with fear; aching with sadness; shaking with anger. It’s a quietly consummate performance. Quietly consummate? Yes. It doesn’t succumb to the trappings and indulgences of being first lady: there are no over-egged histrionics, or ‘pushed’ notes. ... Like Hulcup, Doyle, a baritone, has a big voice and, like a hulking V8 in an old school, wide-tracked, gas-guzzling, befinned American car, one senses, thanks to lusty torque, plenty in reserve. Unlike one or two more celebrated ‘bassists’, too, his register sacrifices not one iota of diction. To boot, he’s a convincing actor, vividly portraying the torment of a man who’s killed his mother, for killing his father; an exercise in the most dubious of poetic justices.’
Lloyd Bradford Syke, Daily Review

‘The title role is huge, and Caitlin Hulcup’s performance of it was a true tour de force. She understood every nuance of the emotional fabric of the music. Her voice, mercurially capable of moving seamlessly from deep plangency to tender warmth, and indeed between an array of different feelings, was always true and vibrant, and always true to Gluck’s ideals; at the service of the drama. The arias in the opera are models of concision, [and] ... she has scenas which, though never flashy, demand a very special range of techniques to bring off. Caitlin Hulcup was mistress of them all. She was well supported ... baritone Grant Doyle as Oreste [who] acted superbly.’
Nicholas Routley, Australian Stage

Caitlin Hulcup is ideal in the title role as the unrecognised sister of Oreste serving as priestess: her poise, dignity, and beauty in form and voice yield great empathy.’
Jason Catlett, Sinfini Music

Photography by Keith Saunders.

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