Zingari, Opera Rara studio recording (recorded November 2021, released September 2022)

Presto Music Recordings of the Year 2022 - Our Top 100
(Chris O’Reilly, www.prestomusic.com, November 25, 2022)

“...[the equally magisterial Stephen] Gaertner commands a rock-solid technique which, in true bel canto style, allows him to gloriously spin the line in Tamar’s ‘Canto Notturno’ and reach notes above the staff with no seeming effort.”
(Bob Dieschburg, www.operawire.com, November 16, 2022)

“Stephen Gaertner’s firm, virile baritone...really is the only one of the four principals with a proper, pharyngeal core to his tone. He provides by far the best singing and it [is] his contribution I most enjoy; his ‘Canto notturno’, rightly encored at the premiere, is a highlight...”
(Ralph Moore, www.musicweb-international.com, November 1, 2022)

“Stephen Gaertner – a latish replacement for the originally schedule Carlos Álvarez – lends his firm baritone to the role of Tamar (having sung Cascart in Opera Rara’s 2015 Zazà)...”
(Mark Pullinger, Gramophone, November, 2022)

“El rol de Tamar tiene una tesitura muy aguda para el barítono y, a la vez, le pide cuerpo en el registro central para los momentos más dramáticos. Gaertner canta con una voz imponente y sin problema aborda el registro agudo, como en su aria ‘Ah, taci! Non lo dir!’ La música que Leoncavallo le asigna recuerda mucho a la que este mismo compositor le escribió a Silvio en su Pagliacci, por lo apasionada y bella. Tiene una balada preciosa al final del primer episodio: ‘Ah! Canto notturno’, que Gaertner canta con elegante línea de canto.”
(Ingrid Haas, www.proopera.org.mx, October 21, 2022)

“American baritone Stephen Gaertner completes the fatal love triangle as Tamar, the brooding Roma poet in love with Fleana. A highlight is Tamar’s early aria Ah! taci! non lo dir!…his expression is striking…and his high notes are splendid. Distraught at the prospect of Fleana’s forthcoming marriage to Radu, in the aria Ah! Canto notturno Gaertner empathises convincingly with Tamar’s fears and anxieties.”
(Michael Cookson, www.musicweb-international.com, October 6, 2022)

“Der amerikanische Bariton Stephen Gaertner ist für den erotischen Verführer Tamar goldrichtig gecastet, weil er mit der nötigen viril samtigen Stimme ausgestattet für eine mächtig aufgeheizte Dramaturgie mit dem verzehrend eifersüchtigen Rivalen Radu sorgt. Auch er ist mit Rollen wie Rigoletto, Jago, Scarpia oder Escamillo auf der Bühne längst in heldischen Gefilden zu Hause. In ‘Zingari’ kann er die Wandlung vom unbeachteten Mauerblümchen zum das ‘Spiel’ entscheidenden Lover glaubhaft und stimmlich ausreichend wandelbar vollziehen.”
(Dr. Ingobert Waltenberger, www.onlinemerker.com, October 6, 2022)

“Wonderfully vivid of voice and personality as Cascart in Opera Rara’s 2015 recording of Zazà...baritone Stephen Gaertner ignites this Zingari with his charismatic portrayal of the Roma poet Tamar...Gaertner voices ‘C’è uno straniero che s’aggira a notte’ mysteriously, passion for Fleana already saturating his tones. The composer’s Lamento angoscioso sostenuto instruction is meticulously heeded in ‘Ah! taci! non lo dir,’ in which the baritone’s repeated top E♭s evoke the desperation of Tamar’s desire. Intruding on Fleana and Radu, Gaertner hurls Tamar’s Fs and G♭ at the lovers with extraordinary force and vocal confidence. The delicate ‘Ah! Canto notturno nel firmamento,’ heard from afar as Fleana and Radu celebrate their union, is bewitchingly sung, the song’s disquieting effect on Fleana wholly credible...at the beginning of Episode Two, Tamar is no longer the idealist scorned by Fleana earlier in the opera. Proving himself to be a man of decisive action, he has kindled Fleana’s love, and Gaertner sings Tamar’s lines in their scene with bracing bravado. The fateful reprise of ‘Canto notturo nel firmamento’ is sung as mesmerizingly as its first incarnation, and ‘Bella! Bella! Sei qui tutta fremente!’ bristles with infatuation. Throughout the duet with Fleana, Gaertner’s vocalism smolders with sensuality, his singing of ‘Sono il rogo che s’accende’ suffused with longing...The dramatic immediacy of Gaertner’s unflappably secure, bronzed singing is consistently galvanizing, but the opera’s verismo intensity never goads him into shouting and snarling.”
(Joseph Newsome, www.voix-des-arts.com, October 4, 2022)

“Den düsteren Poeten Tamar gestaltet Stephen Gaertner angemessen diabolisch, bietet aber im Liebeswerben auch sanftere Töne, um Fleana von seinen Qualitäten zu überzeugen.”
(Uwe Friedrich, OPER!, October 2022)

“Van de drie hoofdpersonen is de dichter Tamar het meest romantische personage, binnen het drama, maar ook als karakter. Het blijkt een kolfje naar de hand van de Amerikaanse bariton Stephen Gaertner die we nog niet zolang geleden bij Opera Rara hoorden als Cascart in Leoncavallo’s Zazà...hier overtuigt hij volledig als jonge dichter die eerst moet toezien hoe zijn geliefde door een ander wordt weggekaapt, maar die haar tenslotte toch in zijn armen mag sluiten.”
(translation from Dutch to English: “Of the three main characters, the poet Tamar is the most romantic character, within the drama, but also as a character. It appears to be right up the alley of the American baritone Stephen Gaertner, whom we heard not so long ago at Opera Rara as Cascart in Leoncavallo’s Zazà...here he completely convinces as a young poet who first has to see how his beloved is stolen by someone else, but who is finally allowed to take her in his arms.”)
(Paul Korenhof, www.opusklassiek.nl, October 2022)

Gramophone magazine Official Specialist Classical Chart Top 20 (September 30, 2022)

“Der amerikanische Bariton Stephen Gaertner ist ein viriler Tamar...”
(Bernd Hoppe, www.operalounge.de, September 30, 2022)

“American baritone Stephen Gaertner acquits himself splendidly...rendering Tamar’s transition from spurned suitor to illicit love-interest (in Pagliacci terms, from Tonio to Silvio) more convincing than it looks on paper, and investing the ‘Canto Notturno’ which recurs in both ‘episodes’ with real poetry.”
(Katherine Cooper, www.prestomusic.com [Recording of the Week], September 23, 2022)

“Stephen Gaertner ist mit einer gut artikulierenden, dunkel-warmen Stimme ein sehr guter Tamar.”
(Remy Franck, www.pizzicato.lu [Supersonic Award], September 23, 2022)

“Dritter im Bunde ist der amerikanische Bariton Stephen Gaertner, der mit mächtig auftrumpfendem Bariton der Figur des Tamar das erforderliche Gewicht gibt.”
(Peter Sommeregger, www.klassik-begeistert.de, September 23, 2022)

“Tamar, Stephen Gaertner est un beau baryton, L’émission est sonore, au timbre séduisant, les aigus sont mordants. Sa souffrance du début (‘ah, taci...’) se mue en un chant rayonnant dans le ‘Canto notturno’ du second épisode.”
(Yvan Beuvard, www.forumopera.com, September 21, 2022)

“...with the viscerally exciting American baritone Stephen Gaertner singing the role of Tamar...”
(William Charlton-Perkins, www.newslink.co.za, September 12, 2022)

Tosca, Sarasota Opera, February-March 2019

“...[baritone Stephen] Gaertner revealed Scarpia’s evil guile with a strong, steely voice and cold heart in comparison with Tosca’s lush lines and the pious Te Deum and church procession of the village chorus in the background. Foreshadowing chills ran down the spine as Scarpia sent Tosca on her way and made explicit his lustful plan...Scarpia’s death was realistic drama, true verismo. If only Mario’s tortured screams had been as realistic as Scarpia’s jolting death spasms.”
(Gayle Williams, Herald-Tribune, February 13, 2022)

Zingari, Opera Rara, December 3, 2021

“...replacing Carlos Álvarez, Stephen Gaertner sang Tamar with such glowing amplitude that it was all the more gratifying to ‘rediscover’ him after his similarly ear-catching Cascart in Opera Rara’s Zazà six years ago...”
(Yehuda Shapiro, Opera, February 2022)

“Stephen Gaertner, handsome sounding as Tamar, did wonders with his seductive serenade – a hit number in 1912...”
(Tim Ashley, The Guardian, December 5, 2021)

“...security was there in...authentic Italianate baritone Stephen Gaertner, stepping in for an indisposed Carlos Álvarez. That this American would do the brooding, powerful job to perfection wasn’t in doubt since he was outstanding in Opera Rara’s previous Leoncavallo venture, Zazà...”
(David Nice, www.theartsdesk.com, December 4, 2021)

“[As Tamar,] Stephen Gaertner had the opportunity to move from jealous baddy to love interest, a rather intriguing journey and he sang his major aria with a lovely sense of style as well as joining with [Krassimira] Stoyanova in their terrific final duet.”
(Robert Hugill, www.planethugill.com, December 4, 2021)

“Stephen Gaertner (replacing Carlo Álvarez) gave a dark-hued account of the role of Tamar...”
(Curtis Rogers, www.classicalsource.com, December 3, 2021)

Macbeth, Opéra de Dijon, November 2021

“[Pietà, rispetto, amore] expose...le timbre idéalement verdien du baryton [de Stephen Gaertner] qui sait actionner, sur les dernières mesures, curseur émotionnel et applaudimètre pour [l’aria].”
(Jean-Luc Clairet, www.resmusica.com, November 10, 2021)

“...Stephen Gaertner compose un solide Macbeth...Il a...la longueur de souffle et la présence suffisante pour faire vivre le rôle sur la durée, recueillant des applaudissements nourris en fin de représentation.”
(Florent Coudeyrat, www.concertonet.com, November 10, 2021)

“Stephen Gaertner, baryton américain familier du rôle, nous vaut un Macbeth de grande qualité. La fragilité du valeureux guerrier, homme faible, manipulé, jouet des sorcières et de sa femme, un anti-héros, est bien traduite. L’émission est sonore, au timbre séduisant, les aigus sont mordants...[il chante ‘Pietà, rispetto, amore’] avec noblesse, lorsqu’il sera acculé au désespoir, enfin libéré de l’influence de sa femme.”
(Yvan Beuvard, www.forumopera.com, November 5, 2021)

“...Stephen Gaertner est un familier du rôle de Macbeth qu’il a déjà chanté plusieurs fois, tant en version scénique qu’en version de concert. Du roi d’Écosse velléitaire et ambitieux, le chanteur américain possède le timbre sombre, les accents angoissés et les excès de fureur. Parfaitement dirigé par la metteuse en scene, il parvient à composer un personnage névrosé et tout à fait credible sans jamais rien céder au respect absolu de la partition. Stephen Gaertner est effectivement un authentique baryton Verdi aux aigus brillants et aux graves bronzés, toujours rigoureusement en place avec l’orchestre. Le grand duo tragique du premier acte le révèle tout à tour machiavélique et pleutre mais c’est dans l’antre des sorcières, au troisième acte, qu’il montre aussi sa nature de grand tragédien shakespearien et d’artiste parfaitement aguerri au style verdien.”
(Nicolas Le Clerre, www.premiereloge-opera.com, November 4, 2021)

“Le baryton étasunien [Stephen Gaertner] incarne la peur inquiète avec détermination, dans l’évaporation inouïe de ses phrases. Les démons intérieurs du protagoniste shakespearien défilent dans le placement menaçant et translucide de la voix. Sa bonté emprisonnée entre les murs de maléfices est bien audible, mais reste à raison cadenassée dans l’excitation de l’interdit. Les grande voix comme la sienne savent chuchoter pour mieux impressionner. La désorientation de Macbeth se joue ici. Et quand le vibrato se raffermit et la voix s’endurcit dans les dernières scènes, il est devenu cet homme oubliant qu’il pouvait douter. En cet être métamorphosé, la puissance du timbre happe entièrement...”
(Thibault Vicq, www.opera-online.com, November 4, 2021)

“Stephen Gaertner...campe ici le rôle-titre, auquel il apporte sa sensibilité, la finesse de ses lignes et la légèreté de son vibrato. Sa couverture vocale confère à sa voix des reflets moirés et une certaine douceur, témoin de la fragilité du personage...”
(Damien Dutilleul, www.olyrix.com, November 3, 2021)

Nabucco, Sarasota Opera, March 2019

“In the title role, Stephen Gaertner cut a suitably changeable figure, ranging from stentorian ruler to the pathetic lost soul Nabucco became after being struck by lightning when he had the impiety to declare himself a god. Gaertner’s burnished baritone imbued the demented monarch’s machinations with an elegant sheen.”
(John Fleming, Opera, September 2019)

“The evening probably belonged to baritone Stephen Gaertner, Nabucco...Gaertner’s mad scene was compelling. On his hands and feet he pathetically attempted to reassemble the shredded document revealing Abigaille’s identity. His return to sanity, with the help of cello and flute, was heroic.”
(Phillip Gainsley, www.operanews.com, June 2019)

“Baritone Stephen Gaertner was Nabucco. His stage demeanor was royal and rageful and his vocal status excellent. His mellow baritone has power on reserve and great flexibility. His glazed demeanor after being struck by lightning was impressive and his declamatory utterance definitive. His voice had the color and power to take the audience on his emotional irrational ride. He handled the controls very well and deserved his ovation. Nabucco’s aria in Act Four with the chorus ‘Son pur queste mia membra! Dio di Giuda’ had the richness of tone that indicated that resolution was near.”
(Nino Pantano, www.brooklyndiscovery.com, March 27, 2019)

“Stephen Gaertner[’s] dynamic baritone vocals powered through the gamut of emotions as Nabucco, moving from intense to frail, to deranged, then composed and in control.”
(Carolan Trbovich, www.broadwayworld.com, March 18, 2019)

“Stephen Gaertner is imposing in the title role, superb when he finally gets his aria, ‘Dio di Guida’ in act four, as Nabucco returns from insanity and embraces the god of his enemies, the Jewish people.”
(William S. Oser, www.talkinbroadway.com, March 7, 2019)

“In the title role we heard Stephen Gaertner, a baritone of ringing tone and positive stage presence who realistically (which is to say, not too frenetically) conveyed Nabucco’s post-blasphemy breakdown but also the pathos of his humiliation.”
(Arthur Kaptainis, www.classicalvoiceamerica.org, March 5, 2019)

“[Stephen] Gaertner brought a hefty bright baritone to the role of the King of Babylon, and his madness, recovery and conversion were most convincing.”
(Edward Alley, www.yourobserver.com, March 4, 2019)

“The title role calls for a well-rounded actor, and baritone Stephen Gaertner fills the role with regal confidence...Gaertner is convincing in his mad scene and pathetic as he pleads for Fenena’s life in ‘Oh di qual onta aggravasi questo mio crin canuto’...We were ready to cheer for him as he regained his power with the prayer ‘Dio di Giuda’...and returns forcefully in the last scene to save the day.”
(Gayle Williams, Herald-Tribune, March 3, 2019)

La Forza del Destino, New Amsterdam Opera, March 24, 2017

“Stephen Gaertner, whose dark, manly baritone thrives on such roles as Don Carlo, sang ‘Son Pereda, [son ricco] d’onore’ robustly but really hit stride in his duets with Alvaro and the double aria between those duets, the proper fiendish gleam arising in his earthy clash with [Errin] Brooks’s metallic tenor. Both singers built tense excitement in this scene, and their rage had an inspiring fire.”
(John Yohalem, www.parterre.com, March 27, 2017)

“...Stephen Gaertner’s Carlo demonstrated a true Verdi baritone force. His opening aria ‘Son [Pereda], son [ricco] d’onore’ was given a darker color and there was some restraint as he emphasized certain words to really create the story he was telling. But it was his ‘Urna Fatale’ that really demonstrated his range. Gaertner showcased torment in Carlo as he delivered each line. While there was no prop he could work with, Gaertner used the audience as he looked into it, expressing the uncertainty in his vow. But as he concluded the aria, he regained his vocal strength and delivered the final note with assertion. And in the second part ‘Ah! Egli e salvo! Oh gioia immensa,’ Gaertner savored each moment. The torment was gone and his voice regained the strength of a man ready for revenge. The cabaletta was propelled by his swift tempo, which only made for a more passionate delivery. That strength was once again emphasized in his second duet with Alvaro...Gaertner’s Carlo was firm, cutting each phrase short with a staccato sound. That...gave the duet dynamism. The final duet allowed Gaertner to once again show that muscular strength. But this time, he was allowed to demonstrate his legato line in full force.”
(Francisco Salazar, www.operawire.com, March 25, 2017)

Aida, Teatro di San Carlo, July 2016

“Pregevoli Amonasro di Giovanni Meoni e [Stephen Gaertner], quest’ultimo dal timbro abbastanza scuro ma dalla morbida gradevolezza...”
(Pietro Puca, www.gothicnetwork.org, August 12, 2016)

Peter Grimes, The Princeton Festival, June 2016

“Stephen Gaertner seemed ideally voiced for Balstrode and made aptly manly, marbled sounds all afternoon, while acting sympathetically...”
(David Shengold, www.operanews.com, September 2016)

“Baritone Stephen Gaertner — who has gone on to great things since triumphing here some years back in a double bill of Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi — brought a combination of world-class vocal glamor and appropriately sober restraint to his portrayal of the wise old skipper Balstrode.”
(Andrew Moravcsik, Opera Today, June 27, 2016)

“Baritone Stephen Gaertner sings the sympathetic Balstrode, a retired merchant skipper who, in the end, offers Peter his only option. Gaertner impressed with his range and intensity in a Princeton double-bill of Rachmaninoff’s ‘Francesca da Rimini’ and Puccini’s ‘Gianni Schicchi’ in 2012. Here, he’s all worldly wisdom, wry, a tad cynical, but advocating tolerance.”
(Ross Amico, The Times of Trenton, June 22, 2016)

Zazà, Opera Rara studio recording (recorded November 2015, released June 2016)

“Le chanteur Cascart, collègue de Zazà, de [Stephen] Gaertner, s’impose par sa sonorité et son beau legato de puissant baryton lyrique.”
(Bruno Peeters, www.crescendo-magazine.be, January 4, 2017)

Presto Music Discs of the Year 2016 - our top 100
(Chris O’Reilly, www.prestomusic.com, November 18, 2016)

“[In the role of Cascart, Stephen] Gaertner’s voice shows considerable velvet and the right sympathetic manner.”
(Roger Pines, Opera News [Critic’s Choice], November 2016)

“As Cascart, the opera’s most sympathetic character (a spiritual cousin to Michonnet in Adriana Lecouvreur), baritone Stephen Gaertner sings well and projects the character’s kindness.”
(Richard Sininger, American Record Guide, September 26, 2016)

“Equally affecting is American baritone Stephen Gaertner as Cascart, Zazà’s soft-hearted former stage partner who watches her back and doles out wise advice. His warm voice embraces the two best arias – Buona Zazà del mio buon tempo and Zazà, piccola zingara – both of which used to be done by Gobbi and Cappuccilli.”
(Clive Paget, Limelight, September 15, 2016)

“...Stephen Gaertner convence como Cascart, sonando como debe un personaje que reviste autoridad moral y sabiduría de edad.”
(Raúl González Arévalo, www.mundoclasico.com, August 12, 2016)

“...the American Stephen Gaertner, an already practiced Cascart, [sings] with a conviction and strength of delivery (...skilfully sustained and controlled) that render powerful and moving each one of his later appearances.”
(Max Loppert, Opera [Recording of the Month], August 2016)

“Der Bariton Stephen Gaertner als Cascart hat eine vor allem in der höheren Lage noch einmal eine spezielle Schönheit des Klanges offenbarende Stärke, die ihn zu einem großen Hoffnungsträger für das (italienische) Fach werden lässt...”
(Michael Lehnert, Das Opernglas, July-August 2016)

“Ganz ausgezeichnet ist Stephen Gaertner als Cascart, der seine Paradenummer mit einem dunklen und profunden Bariton singt und es schafft, dass man jeder seiner Zeilen gerne zuhört.”
(Rolf Fath, www.operalounge.de, July 26, 2016)

“In reviewing a 2005 Alice Tully Hall concert performance of Zazà by Teatro Grattacielo, New York Times critic Bernard Holland praised the ‘strong, cultured baritone’ that Stephen Gaertner wielded in his interpretation of Zazà’s once-and-future lover Cascart. A decade later, that assessment applies even more fully to the singer’s Cascart for Opera Rara. Gaertner is a connoisseur’s baritone, one whose performances offer tantalizing glimpses of bygone eras in which singers like John Charles Thomas, Lawrence Tibbett, and Leonard Warren were emblematic of the magnificence of American baritone singing. In this portrayal of Cascart...Gaertner sings with the unapologetic machismo of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, the true swagger of a nightclub star sure of his value and virility. From the beginning of his scene with Zazà in Act One, there is obvious tenderness in his approach to the part, however, and Gaertner woos and pleads without crooning. In Act Two, the sheer sonic impact of his singing of ‘Buona Zazà del mio buon tempo ascolta’ is arresting, but the character’s gentleness towards Zazà is again evident in the humor with which Gaertner’s Cascart goads her with ‘E s’anco ti sposare? saresti...una borghese!’ When the baritone sings ‘Zazà, piccola zingara, schiava d’un folle amore’ in Act Four, the extent to which Cascart’s destiny is intertwined with Zazà’s is palpable, and the sincerity of Gaertner’s delivery is moving. With a singer of Gaertner’s abilities in the rôle, Cascart’s part in the drama is all the more pivotal, and the misfortune of Zazà’s love for Milio is intensified by her neglect of a man so devoted to her.”
(Joseph Newsome, www.voix-des-arts.com, July 3, 2016)

“Here baritone Stephen Gaertner...[sings] Cascart with a particularly strong sense of engagement. Gaertner’s attractive baritone sounds suitably mature and highly expressive with a performance full of sincerity.”
(Michael Cookson, www.musicweb-international.com, July 2016)

“Stephen Gaertner is eloquent and touching as Cascart, Zazà’s old friend, and makes the most of his Act 4 aria.”
(Hugo Shirley, Gramophone, July 2016)

“...Leoncavallo provides some nicely meaty cameos. Perhaps the most touching is Stephen Gaertner as Cascart, Zazà’s stage partner who seems still loves her. Gaertner’s Act Four aria brought the house down at the Barbican and it comes over superbly on disc too, sung with a superb sense of well supported line.”
(Robert Hugill, www.planethugill.com, June 9, 2016)

“Strong performances come from American baritone Stephen Gaertner as Cascart — the former lover and colleague of Zazà who tries to convince her to forget Milio...”
(Rebecca Schmid, www.classicalvoiceamerica.org, June 7, 2016)

“...Stephen Gaertner uses his firm baritone to beautiful effect as Cascart.”
(Francis Muzzo, Opera Now, June 2016)

“...the finest of the other singers is the American baritone Stephen Gaertner, as Zazà’s ex and singing partner, Cascart.”
(Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times [Album of the Week], May 22, 2016)

Zazà, Opera Rara, November 27, 2015

“...Stephen Gaertner made Cascart a figure of compassion and authority, with a concentrated lustre to his tone.”
(Yehuda Shapiro, Opera, February 2016)

“Dass man daneben in Stephen Gaertner als unglücklich in Zazà verliebtem Cascart einen veritablen dramatischen Bariton von der großen Vielseitigkeit und Klangreinheit eines Sherrill Milnes entdecken konnte, zählte zu den weiteren Höhepunkten dieser aus den Aufführungen des zu Ende gehenden Jahres herausrangenden Präsentation. Gaertner (bisher bereits Macbeth in Savonlinna und Heidenheim hier in Europa) begeisterte mit fantastischer, mühelos und geschmackvoll kontrollierter Attacke bei ausgeglichener Stimmführung.”
(Michael Lehnert, Das Opernglas, January 2016)

“The singer Cascart, an old flame of Zazà’s who is on hand to offer restraining advice, sings probably the best aria in the piece, and Stephen Gaertner rose imposingly to the occasion: it used to be a repertoire piece, recorded by many distinguished baritones on 78s.”
(Michael Tanner, The Spectator, December 12, 2015)

“As [Zazà’s] old friend and ex-lover Cascart, Stephen Gaertner showed warmth and conflicted wisdom.”
(Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, December 6, 2015)

“...the most powerful singing came from Stephen Gaertner as Zazà’s jilted lover, who rightly foresees looming catastrophe.”
(Richard Morrison, The Times, December 1, 2015)

“...Zazà’s singing partner Cascart, her counsel in affairs of the heart, [was] affectingly portrayed by Stephen Gaertner. The American baritone’s warm, forthright delivery embodied the character’s dependability as the voice of reason.”
(Mark Valencia, www.criticscircle.org.uk, November 30, 2015)

“Stephen Gaertner, [an] exceptional artist, was [Zazà’s] level-headed, affectionate Cascart...”
(Tim Ashley, The Guardian, November 29, 2015)

“The two most memorable set-pieces, surely, belong to the sympathetic baritone, Zazà’s fellow singer, career-launcher and one-time lover Cascart...Stephen Gaertner did them opulently proud.”
(David Nice, www.theartsdesk.com, November 29, 2015)

“...Stephen Gaertner was excellent as Cascart, the rejected lover whose indignant vexation is out-weighted by his undiminished love. Gaertner was rare among the cast in singing securely off the score. He was commanding in his big arias, his rich, dark baritone rising powerfully above the orchestral roar; and his nuanced and expressive phrasing made for convincing interaction with [Ermonela] Jaho in their duets. Cascart’s Act 4 show-stopper, ‘Zazà, piccola zingara’, was one of the high-lights of the evening.”
(Claire Seymour, www.operatoday.com, November 29, 2015)

“The actor Cascart is a former lover and you suspect is still in love with her. He is a constant presence, looking out for Zazà throughout the plot. Baritone Stephen Gaertner played the role with a fine sense of personal commitment and a lovely freedom to the voice. His high lying passages were a joy to listen to and his account of his aria in Act Four rightly brought the house down.”
(Robert Hugill, www.planethugill.com, November 29, 2015)

“...Stephen Gaertner made a firm mark as Cascart, Zazà’s former lover and confidant, who dispenses sage advice in two rather lovely lyrical effusions.”
(Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, November 28, 2015)

“Things came to life in Act II, as Zazà’s singing partner and former lover Cascart finds himself forced to tell her about Milio’s double life. Stephen Gaertner gave us a rich baritone that was filled with nuance as he negotiates Cascart’s mixed feelings of enduring love, business interests and true friendship. Gaertner expressed all of this while singing his duets with [Ermonela] Jaho beautifully; he was also the one singer consistently capable of being heard above the orchestra.”
(David Karlin, www.bachtrack.com, November 28, 2015)

“Leoncavallo wrote well for baritones, and Stephen Gaertner relished his chances in his two arias, particularly in his Act Four, his warm honeyed tone making terrific impact. He was also dramatically engaging, particularly in the encounter with Zazà’s mother Anaide...”
(Alexander Campbell, www.classicalsource.com, November 27, 2015)

Macbeth, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz, July 8, 2015

“Ein großer Wurf auch die Rollen-Besetzungen: Stephen Gaertner mit markantem und beweglichem, auch im Piano tragfähigen [Bariton] lotet die psychologische Bandbreite vom Unentschlossenen zum mordlustigen, nach der Königswürde Gierenden mit großartiger Präsenz aus. Sehr intensiv die gesungenen Wahnvorstellungen, die im Orchester stets ähnliche musikalische Muster finden.”
(Veronika Pantel, Südkurier, July 10, 2015)

Risurrezione - Act IV, 20th Anniversary Gala Benefit Concert, Teatro Grattacielo, November 2014

“[Baritone Stephen] Gaertner’s performance [as Simonson] was emotionally powerful...”
(Arlo McKinnon, www.operanews.com, March 2015)

“Stephen Gaertner wielded his wine-dark baritone beautifully as Simonson...”
(Eric Myers, Opera, February 2015)

“...a ravishing baritone aria, sung with commanding majesty by Stephen Gaertner, was one of many highlights of the evening.”
(Peter Danish, www.broadwayworld.com)

“The honors of this love-blooms-even-in-the-Gulag scene went to Stephen Gaertner, a Verdi-style baritone of great range and admirable polish, as the lovesick Simonson.”
(John Yohalem, www.parterre.com)

“Alfano gives the most beautiful solo vocal music in the opera to the character of Simonson, the heroine’s savior and fiancé, who only appears in the final act set in Siberia. Stephen Gaertner’s rich baritone filled out the humanity and decency of the character while doing full justice to the broad, expansive melodies.”
(Eli Jacobson, www.gbopera.it)

Macbeth, Savonlinna Opera Festival, July 2013

“Savonlinnan Macbethista tulee ensimmäisenä mieleen Jorma Hynnisen legendaarinen, vahva tulkinta. Hänen Macbethinsä oli voimakas atleetti. Tämän vuoden Macbeth, Stephen Gaertner on tämän vastakohta: jo valmiiksi pelokas, ja pian hermoheikko, arvaamaton ja verenhimoinen hullu. Gaertnerin baritoni on notkea ja tiivis...kauttaaltaan hyvin soiva. Näin pelokasta ja siksi kovin uskottavaa Macbethiä ei linnassa ole ennen nähty...Neuroottisesti käsillään elehtivä Gaertner on täydellinen vastapari...[Lady Macbeth] sopraano Csilla Borossille...”
(translation from Finnish to English: “Savonlinna’s Macbeth brings first to mind the strong and legendary interpretation by Jorma Hynninen. His Macbeth was a powerful athlete. This year’s Macbeth, Stephen Gaertner, is the opposite of this: the already fearful, and soon to be neurotic, unpredictable and bloodthirsty madman. Gaertner’s baritone is supple and firm...entirely great sounding. Never before has the castle witnessed this fearful and therefore very credible Macbeth...Gaertner, with his neurotic hand gesturing, is the perfect counterpart to the...[Lady Macbeth of] soprano Csilla Boross...”)
(Riitta-Leena Lempinen-Vesa, Itä-Savo, July 14, 2013)

“Es gehört Stärke dazu, auf der Bühne Schwäche darzustellen. Der neue Macbeth (Stephen Gaertner) besaß diese Fähigkeit in hohem Maße, und...begeisterte auch er durch die Kraft seines Vortrags, durchaus nicht einseitig auf forte-Attacke setzend, sondern z.B. in seiner Todes-Arie sehr zu klangschönem piano findend. Damit knüpfte er nahtlos an die (in ihrer Individualität sehr unterschiedlichen) Savonlinna-Macbeths von Jorma Hynninen und Juha Uusitalo an.”
(Sune Manninen, www.der-neue-merker.eu)

Otello, Metropolitan Opera, October 2012

“Stephen Gaertner (Montano)...also represented casting from strength.”
(David Shengold, www.operanews.com, December 2012)

“Todo un lujo fue contar con el barítono Stephen Gaertner en la parte de Montano...”
(Horacio Tomalino, www.mundoclasico.com)

Francesca da Rimini & Gianni Schicchi, The Princeton Festival, June 2012

“Baritone Stephen Gaertner dominated the afternoon with fine, flowing, solidly produced sound...his singing was excellent [as the cuckolded Lanceotto]; it proved a pleasure to hear Puccini’s notes and lines usually negotiated by fading buffo Schicchis vocalized so firmly [in Gaertner’s skilled, forthright impersonation].”
(David Shengold, Opera News, October 2012)

“The most commanding voice of the evening belonged to baritone Stephen Gaertner, who sang both the roles of [Lanceotto] Malatesta in the Rachmaninoff and Gianni Schicchi in the subsequent Puccini opera. Mr. Gaertner is a veteran of the Metropolitan Opera and had no trouble taking over the stage and convincing the audience of [Lanceotto’s] torment...Mr. Gaertner returned in the title role [of Gianni Schicchi], still commanding the stage but relaxed in intensity and clearly enjoying the comedic physicality as he elaborately scammed the rest of the [Donati] family.”
(Nancy Plum, Town Topics, July 3, 2012)

“Gaertner’s heart-wrenching aria as he goes off to war is a show-stopper. Tortured by his wish for Francesca’s love, not merely her obedience, he reaches the hearts of the audience, whose acclaim interrupts the performance. Gaertner’s tormented Lanceotto is cut from a cloth different from his energetic, clever Gianni Schicchi.”
(Elaine Strauss, U.S.1, June 27, 2012)

“As the cuckolded husband, Stephen Gaertner was a particularly powerful presence, vocally and theatrically, thanks to his willingness to go over the top when the role needed it. [As Schicchi,] Gaertner...had the dignity of a principled strategist.”
(David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 25, 2012)

“Stephen Gaertner as Lanceotto drew a great deal of well justified applause for his powerful performance...Stephen Gaertner again gave a powerful and commanding performance in the title role [of Gianni Schicchi].”
(Toby Grace, Out In Jersey, June 24, 2012)

Simon Boccanegra, Metropolitan Opera, January-February 2010

“...Stephen Gaertner as Paolo is a vocally commanding and headstrong villain.”
(Evan Mitchell, www.bachtrack.com, November 26, 2013)

“The scene where Paolo, played by Stephen Gaertner, is cursed and is forced to curse himself was a chilling scene. Gaertner and [Plácido] Domingo played their roles perfectly...”
(Melanie O'Neill, www.examiner.com, June 30, 2011)

“A šanci záskoku na poslední chvíli pod stresem přímého přenosu využil a s přehledem zvládl i Stephen Gaertner v roli Paola.”
(translation from Czech to English: “Stephen Gaertner used a chance to be a stand-in at the last moment and under the stress of live broadcast wonderfully mastered the role of Paolo.”)
(Helena Havlíková, Hudební Rozhledy, April 2010)

“Magnífico también el Paolo de [Stephen Gaertner]...de considerable presencia a lo largo de la trama y al que el cantante le supo sacar buen partido, tanto en lo musical como en lo dramático.”
(Daniel Fernandez, El Nuevo Herald, February 10, 2010)

“Den ende som höll normal Metstandard var [Stephen Gaertner], en utmärkt, eldig Paolo.”
(translation from Swedish to English: “The only one who was normal Met standard was [Stephen Gaertner], an excellent, fiery Paolo.”)
(Jens Runnberg, Dalarnas Tidningar, February 7, 2010)

“...[der junge amerikanische] Bariton Stephen Gaertner...lieferte...ein sehr stimmiges, interessantes Rollenporträt, ohne zu vordergründig böse zu wirken. Ein Name, den man sich merken sollte.”
(Margit Rihl, www.der-neue-merker.eu)

“Le jeune Stephen Gaertner est un Paolo bien chantant, sans excès vériste, à la voix sonore, et dont on suivra les progrès avec intérêt.”
(Placido Carrerotti, www.forumopera.com)

“Pochválit je rozhodně třeba i Stephena Gaertnera jako výrazného a pěvecky suverénního Paola, kterému nelze prakticky nic vytknout.”
(translation from Czech to English: “One must certainly praise Stephen Gaertner as an exceptional and vocally masterful Paolo, whom one practically cannot fault with anything.”)
(Vít Dvořák, www.operaplus.cz)

Rigoletto, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, January 2009

“Most impressive of all perhaps, as the hunchbacked court jester…was baritone Stephen Gaertner, who revealed himself as a star Rigoletto-of-the-future with his warm, burnished voice and potent acting skills.”
(Mary Ellyn Hutton, www.musicincincinnati.com, January 12, 2009)

Edgar, Opera Orchestra of New York, Carnegie Hall, April 13, 2008

“Stephen Gaertner...was the robust, earnest Frank.”
(Steve Smith, New York Times, April 15, 2008)

“...Stephen Gaertner [as Frank] was warm and passionate. He gave the impression of pleasure in singing. And he projected power without forcing.”
(Jay Nordlinger, New York Sun, April 15, 2008)

“Stephen Gaertner...was suave and dark as Frank, showing quality throughout a moving ‘Questo amor.’”
(Ronald Blum, Associated Press, April 14, 2008)

“Stephen Gaertner as...Frank displayed an impressive, warm baritone...”
(Robert Levine, www.classicstoday.com)

“As Frank...baritone [Stephen] Gaertner sang ‘Questo amor, vergogna mia’...with polish and full feeling...”
(Bruce-Michael Gelbert, www.qonstage.com)

“Stephen Gaertner, a frequent figure in concert operas and a recent Met debutante...was impressive as Fidelia’s manic brother, Frank.”
(John Yohalem, www.operatoday.com)

Tristan und Isolde, Metropolitan Opera, March & November-December 2008

“...Stephen Gaertner como Melot [debería] augurar mayores roles.”
(Eduardo Brandenburger, Ópera Actual, January-February 2009)

“...Stephen Gaertner’s strong baritone impressed in Melot’s brief duties.”
(David Shengold, Gay City News, December 24, 2008)

“...Stephen Gaertner [portrayed] a sinister, but conflicted Melot...”
(Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review for the Arts, December 5, 2008)

“...Stephen Gaertner gave us the most convincing and vocally satisfying performance of the evening as Melot.”
(Raymond Beegle, www.classicalvoice.org)

“...Stephen Gaertner [was] a sensitive Melot (who acts the character’s understandable confusions).”
(John Yohalem, www.operatoday.com)

“El barítono Stephen Gaertner una vez más dió muestras de total seguridad y de buen rendimiento a cargo de la parte del caballero Melot.”
(Horacio Tomalino, www.mundoclasico.com)

“...Stephen Gaertner’s dangerous Melot [was a] positive [contribution]...”
(Peter G. Davis, www.musicalamerica.com, March 27, 2008)

“Stephen Gaertner was a rich and convincing Melot.”
(Jay Nordlinger, New York Sun, March 12, 2008)

“Having polished baritone Stephen Gaertner play Melot was luxury casting, and one hopes that the Met will soon put his considerable talent to better use.”
(Bruce-Michael Gelbert, www.qonstage.com)

Lucia di Lammermoor, Metropolitan Opera, October 5, 2007

“...Stephen Gaertner, sang the final act, making his house debut at the Met...”
(New York Times, October 8, 2007)

“...baritone Stephen Gaertner [made] his Met debut [as Enrico] with aplomb, rushing onto the scene in time for the third-act Wolf’s Crag scene opposite [Marcello] Giordani.”
(www.metopera.org, News Flash, October 6, 2007)

“A cargo de la parte de ‘Lord Enrico’, el barítono polaco Mariusz Kwiecien...[fue] sustituido [en el tercero acto] por el barítono americano Stephen Gaertner quien supo con profesionalismo salvar la situación.”
(Horacio Tomalino, www.mundoclasico.com)

Dom Sébastien, Opera Orchestra of New York, Carnegie Hall, November 7, 2006

“Stephen Gaertner...distinguished himself as Abayaldos, mustering an impressively projected baritone with high, concentrated placement and declaiming with considerable intensity.”
(David Shengold, Opera, February 2007)

“Stephen Gaertner sang Abayaldos with furious determination.”
(Bernard Holland, New York Times, November 9, 2006)

“...Stephen Gaertner...sang with a handsomely focused sound and a dramatic presence as Abayaldos...”
(George Loomis, www.musicalamerica.com, November 9, 2006)

“...Stephen Gaertner sang Abayaldos with passion and true Verdi-baritone sheen...”
(Robert Levine, www.classicstoday.com)

“[Stephen] Gaertner [was] fiery as Abayaldos...”
(Bruce-Michael Gelbert, www.qonstage.com)

Zazà, Teatro Grattacielo, Alice Tully Hall, November 12, 2005

“The baritone Stephen Gaertner, singing Zazà’s confidant and stage partner Cascart, is a star in the making: his voice is penetrating and firm, his phrasing elegant, his presence striking.”
(Eric Myers, Opera, March 2006)

“...baritone Stephen Gaertner...won a warm ovation for his silky rendition of the score’s best-known aria, ‘Zazà, piccola zingara.’”
(James Jorden, Gay City News, November 24, 2005)

“I was taken with the strong, cultured baritone of Stephen Gaertner as Cascart...”
(Bernard Holland, New York Times, November 14, 2005)

“As...Cascart, baritone Stephen Gaertner lent polished tone to ‘Buona Zazà del mio buon tempo’...and to the best-known aria, ‘Zazà, piccola zingara’, which he made a lyrical outpouring.”
(Bruce-Michael Gelbert, www.theaterscene.net)

soloist

Copland: Old American Songs

October 1, 2022 (canceled due to weather)

New Jersey Festival Orchestra