“Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet was every inch the passionate Irish princess, at first a bundle of fury, then wholly possessed by the love potion. Her soprano smouldered hotly below, blazed thrillingly on high ...”
During her varied career, dramatic soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet has established herself as a leading force in the German and contemporary repertoires. Having begun singing Italian and ‘spinto’ Russian roles, she has naturally progressed into the more dramatic German soprano – and more recently ‘Zwischenfach’ – repertoire. Her intense stage presence has been widely praised by critics, with the Times proclaiming her a ‘spine-chillingly powerful’ performer.
In Europe, Charbonnet has appeared at major opera houses including the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Opéra National de Paris; Teatro Real, Madrid; Oper Frankfurt; Opéra National de Bordeaux; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Teatro Comunale di Firenze; Teatro La Fenice; and Bregenz Festival. Her major roles include Ortrud Lohengrin (in Frankfurt and Dallas), Kundry Parsifal, Venus Tannhäuser (Geneva and Toulouse), Sieglinde Die Walküre, and Brünnhilde Der Ring des Nibelungen (both Opéra national du Rhin). Her portrayal of Isolde was described in Opera magazine as ‘every inch the passionate Irish princess, at first a bundle of fury, then wholly possessed by the love potion. Her soprano smouldered hotly below, blazed thrillingly on high.’
Recent highlights include the title role of Ariane et Barbe-bleue (in Barcelona and Dijon); Judith Bluebeard’s Castle (Nantes/Angers and Paris); Leonore Fidelio (Teatro San Carlo); Katerina Izmailova Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Florence May Festival and Teatro Municipal Santiago); Goneril King Lear (Frankfurt); Elektra (Deutsche Oper Berlin, Edinburgh International Festival, and LSO under Valery Gergiev); and Cassandre Les Troyens (Opéra National de Paris).
Charbonnet’s concert repertoire includes Schoenberg’s Erwartung (with Jukka-Pekka Saraste in Cologne) and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass (with Pierre Boulez at the BBC Proms).
Engagements in the 2013-14 season include role debuts as Kostelnička Jenůfa (La Monnaie, Brussels) and the Mother Il Prigioniero in Barcelona, as well as Erwartung with Susanna Mälkki in Amsterdam. Looking further ahead, Charbonnet will add roles to her repertoire including Herodias Salome, Klytemnestra Elektra and Amneris Aida.
Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet is represented by Intermusica.
November 2013 / 304 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Ariane Ariane et Barbe-Bleu / Opus Arte DVD Release
Cond. Stephane Deneve, Dir. Christian Schmidt
“My admiration of the American dramatic soprano’s dignified, serious, intent playing of the heroine, her secure traversal of those Act 3 passages potentially uncomfortable to modern sensibilities, in which Ariane gives tips on dress and hair care to the company wives, is indeed great.”
“…beautiful, full-grained lower ranges…”
“Charbonnet gives a splendidly commanding account of one of French opera’s greatest roles.”
Opera, August 2013
Ariane in Paul Dukas Ariane et Barbe-Bleue / Opéra de Dijon
“Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, well known as Elektra and as Katerina in Lady Macbeth, certainly has the power and stamina, ringing out her high As and A sharps with tremendous authority and singing with astute attention to the text.”
Peter J. Rabinowitz, International Record Review, April 2013
“The role of Arianne was the mainspring of the cast, as it should be. Despite announcing that she was unwell (which certainly wasn’t noticeable), American soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet (not long ago a white-hot Isolde at this same theatre) employed apparently inexhaustible reserves to paint an infinitely delicate picture of this obstinate and determined heroine, despite the almost Wagnerian weight of the task. Her luminous timbre never wavered in intensity: her flexible and fluid tone inhabited the music with formidable efficacy, surmounting all the obstacles strewn along the way. In act 3, the crucial phrase “Voyez, la porte est ouverte!”, sung pianissimo in a soft, burnished tone, showed just how much Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet had made this gruelling role her own. She was not once caught off guard by this hybrid writing, which requires solid bronze high notes (such as in the invocation to the diamonds in act 1, or the evocation of spring in act 2); and with faultless French pronunciation, she truly made the audience believe in this character, full of courage, beauty and spirituality.”
Emmanuel Andrieu, Classique Info
, December 2012
Isolde in Wagner Tristan und Isolde / Salzburger Landestheater
cond. Leo Hussain / dir. Eike Gramss
“Both Isolde (Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet) and her servant Brangäne (Katherine Goeldner) gave an impressive performance, as singers as well as actresses. (…) The brilliant climax of the Salzburg production was the Liebesnacht in the 2nd Act, in which Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet and Michael Baba were on top form as Isolde and Tristan. (…) The closing Liebestod left the audience once again completely under the spell of Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet’s vocal excellence; she should rightly be recognised as an Isolde of international class”.
Siegfried Steinkogler, Dorfzeitung, November 2012
“Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet is this production’s Isolde. She is a charismatic singer/actress with great radiance and persuasive power. This internationally acclaimed Wagnerian singer has a multi-coloured palette of vocal tones and timbres at her disposal”.
Heidemarie Klabacher, DrehPunktKultur, November 2012
“Tristan and Isolde, sung superbly by Michael Baba and Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, unleashed storms of enthusiasm from the audience at the final curtain”.
EpochMedia, November 2012
Elektra in Strauss Elektra
London Symphony Orchestra / cond. Valery Gergiev
CD recording (LSO Live)
“Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet has been specializing in German roles the past few seasons and really digs into Hofmannsthal’s text for its worth (which is a lot). The American soprano [...] is an intense, committed interpreter; her Isolde in Dallas last season many the best acted of my experience”.
David Shengold, Opera News, October 2012
“You really have to see Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet’s powerfully declaimed ... Elektra... her fierce encounter with Felicity Palmer’s raddled, veteran Klytaemnestra comes across forcefully.”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, July 2012
“Five stars ... a thrilling, often revelatory performance, alive to every intense and modernistic gesture... The excellent cast includes Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet in the title role... First-class sound and presentation.”
Colin Anderson, Time Out, June 2012
“Three stars [of three]... A vocal line-up (headed by Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet) bordering on perfection gives this interpretation all its grandeur.”
S.Ha., Valeurs Actuelles, July 2012
“She scores by having a strong chest register... her performance and its impact were the product of her physical acting and her visible interaction with the other characters as much as her singing...”
Richard Nicholson, Classical Source, July 2012
“This recording, done live also in the LSO’s typical setup, features American soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, slowly making a career for herself, and she is in all manner superb.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition, August 2012
Isolde in Wagner Tristan and Isolde
Dallas Opera / Cond. Graeme Jenkins
“Jeanne – Michèle Charbonnet was every inch the passionate Irish princess, at first a bundle of fury, then wholly possessed by the love potion. Her soprano smouldered hotly below, blazed thrillingly on high”
Scott Cantrell, Opera, May 2012
“Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet as Isolde hits all the right notes, vocally and emotionally. She’s voluble, passionate, and must go from the height of anger, to rapture, to the despair of sadness.”
Mark-Brian Sonna, Pegasus News, February 2012
“Miss Charbonnet soared as the fiery Isolde. Her voice should be declared a national treasure. Singing with that much passion for over four hours should have left her exhausted, yet at the end of Act III, energy literally sparked from her fingertips, jumping over the footlights and into the hearts of her approving audience. Brava!”
Terry Matthews, myssnews.com, February 2012
“Starring as Isolde, the beautiful and accomplished soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet regularly appears in the top opera houses throughout Europe. She is internationally recognized as a leading force in German and contemporary repertoire for good reason. Her Isolde is believable, passionate, forgiving and willing to die for love. Her tragic portrayal of Isolde embodies philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s deeply pessimistic view of the human condition embraced by Wagner.”
Marilee Verhati, Examiner, February 2012
“Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, a New Orleans soprano recognized worldwide as a leading force in the German and contemporary repertoires, performs the part of Isolde with boldness and grace”
The Flash List, February 2012
“Ms. Charbonnet not only sang well with her lusciously edgy soprano soaring to the cheap seats, but her acting was superb”
Trevor Neal, Operagasm, February 2012
“Soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet's Isolde is vocally attractive and strong”
Olin Chism, The Star-Telegram, February 2012
Judith in Bartok Bluebeard's Castle
Angers Nantes Opera / cond. Daniel Kawka / dir. Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser
“Gidon Saks and Jeanne-Michèle Chardonnet are exactly the superstars required for this short hour of great violence.”
Le Figaro, October 2011
“The two singers are magnificent: Jeanne-Michèle Chardonnet has the tender and naïve guilelessness of a sincere lover, and Gidon Saks the anxious force of a flushed out and hunted animal.”
Classique News, October 2011
“The most memorable element in this production of Château de Barbe-Bleue is the brilliant pairing of two completely committed artists, both from the original 2007 production: Gidon Saks in the role of Barbe-Bleue and Jeanne-Michèle Chardonnet in that of Judith.
Charbonnet gave an equally spirited performance, quivering with anxious curiosity and driven by an invincible determination. She also possessed an extraordinary vocal intensity, at times producing husky tones and gripping low notes.”
Concerto Net, October 2011
Elektra in Strauss Elektra
"Musically and dramatically, hers is an astonishing characterisation. Her voice - dark-sounding, rich and strong - is capable both of scything through Strauss's vast orchestra with ease and of transforming into a fragile, unearthly pianissimo in moments of lyricism. Dramatically, she is exceptionally subtle. She avoids the tendency to present Elektra as pathological from the outset, preferring instead to reveal the layers of obsession, ferocity and soul-destroying loneliness that lurk beneath the facade she has adopted as a defence against unspeakable past trauma. Much of what Charbonnet does is the stuff of genius."
Tim Ashley, Guardian, August 2006
"In the title role Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet was spine-chillingly powerful in the big, deranged moments, but a few purrs short of sumptuousness in the great monologue where Elektra incestuously drools over her returning brother, Orest."
Richard Morrison, Times, August 2006
"As Judith, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet projected her impassioned urge to open up Bluebeard's emotional channels with ardent, sensuously phrased lines."
Barry Millington, Evening Standard, September 2004