May 9–20, 2018 with Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Aaron Blake, as Candide, has an engaging, open-faced, youthful look perfectly suited to the role, and his acting skills make him totally believable as innocent, good-hearted Candide, letting him blend in seamlessly with the musical theatre veterans surrounding him. It’s only when the music starts and his glorious voice emerges that it’s evident his vocal training is at the operatic level.
Tenor Aaron Blake (as Candide) beautifully delivers the impassioned ballad “It Must Be So.”
Aaron Blake is a charming Candide with a golden voice.
Aaron Blake captures Candide’s impossibly optimistic spirit with a soaring tenor voice.
The musical reflection of human speech and its psychological fluctuations are sometimes stunningly faithful. Aaron Blake brings an appealingly vulnerable, clear-toned tenor to Tim’s early appearances that are exquisitely calibrated. He rendered the trusting nervousness of his first encounter with Hawk on a park bench, the overeager jitters of his job interview — with vocal jumps overshooting their targets — and the heart-in-throat stammer he produces under the appraising gaze of Hawk’s female office staff.
Timothy’s unhappy inner journey is the element that gives Fellow Travelers shape and focus, and at the premiere performance Aaron Blake delivered it in full. He cast an achingly vulnerable figure, never more so than when Laughlin ritualistically marked his renunciation of the affair by dropping a milk bottle off a rooftop: a moment both comic and tremendously poignant. The lyrical climaxes elicited a lucid, ringing tenor in full cry, but Blake never overwhelmed either the line or the text in sound: these passages were clearly sung by the same voice as the naturalistic recitative, but now overwhelmed by uncontrollable emotion.
Blake was perfectly cast as Timothy. His tenor was clear and sweet, vigorous and lithe. He projected Timothy’s guilelessness, transparence, and sincerity. And he moved between disparate emotional registers with preternatural ease: longing, joy, sorrow. His performance was courageous.
The leading men are both terrific. Aaron Blake’s tangy tenor and spot-on body language jolted the fragile, closeted Timothy to vibrant life. The only way I could be more impressed is if I had not seen him give essentially the identical performance in Angels in America last summer.
...tenor Aaron Blake was touching and explosive as Tim.
Tim is the center of the story in Pierce’s vision and Blake does well by him. I’ve seen Blake before and Spears’s brings out colors and warmth in his voice that I’ve never heard before. He has some of the opera’s best vocal music: His duet with Hawk when they first go to bed and his visit to confession were particularly memorable. As a character, he moved from innocence to integrity with ease.
Angels in America
Aaron Blake’s lyric tenor made the usually unsympathetic Louis touching.
As Louis, Aaron Blake brought a strong physicality to the role, portraying the character’s sexual lust as well as his guilt. Vocally the tenor had a gorgeous timbre but his resources sometimes died out in the higher register. One hopes to hear this tenor in a more traditional rep to see the capabilities of the lyrical voice.
There was aching depth to Aaron Blake’s interpretation of Louis, who combined a bright, creamy tenor and vocal intensity to give the finest singing of the night. A magnetic actor, he crafted a vividly human portrait of the character as he struggled with whether he could support the man he loved during his illness.
Aaron Blake as Louis Ironson was a revelation, demonstrating a rich trove of vocal abilities (belting, crooning, a floating falsetto) while giving a committed character portrayal.
As Louis Ironson, Aaron Blake sang passionately and was convincing in his anguish. Eötvös’ and Mezei’s Louis is not neurotic and emotional, like Kushner’s. He is measured and still and lets his turmoil simmer below the surface.
Blake’s command of Eötvös’ high tessitura, dynamic extremes and stylistic eclectism proved highly impressive.