Wigmore Hall with City of London Sinfonia, March 2010

“Watts’s performance of David Matthews’s 2005 arrangement of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été was the centrepiece — and tour de force — of the evening. The new slender orchestration is entirely faithful to the essence of Berlioz’s sound world and Watts gave a performance that was outstanding in every way: in its beautifully idiomatic French and its long lines of melody whose legato arose as much from a continuity of thought and imagination as of vocal tone. The harsh, dark undertow of bass, cello, viola and horn in Sur les lagunes coloured Watts’s own impressive low register. And rarely have I heard such an anguished yet perfectly focused cry of “Reviens!” in Absence.”

-Hilary Finch, The Times

Berlioz Nuits d’éte with the Ulster Orchestra, January 2010

“How often do you hear a really satisfying account of all six songs? Rarely, it must be said. The songs make such severe, and different, demands that a single singer, even the finest, is hard put to master all of them. It can happen. In January I was in Belfast, where the cycle was sung by Elizabeth Watts… she gave one of the best performances I have ever heard… [she] had a strong vocal grasp of each song and an understanding of them remarkable in one so young.”

-David Cairns, The Berlioz Scoiety Bulletin

Artaxerxes, ROH, November 2009

“But the pick of the bunch is Elizabeth Watts, who musters buckets of passion and thrilling coloratura as Xerxes’s anguished daughter Mandane.”

– Richard Morrison, The Times

“The showiest numbers are shared between the cruelly duped Arbaces… and our own rising star Elizabeth Watts as Mandane whose ear-popping pyrotechnics run the gamut of emotion as capricious as her personality.”

– Edward Seckerson, The Independent

“The RO has assembled a very decent cast, from which Elizabeth Watts’s dazzling Mandane — brilliant in her famous solos, Fly, soft ideas, fly and The soldier tir’d of war’s alarms — stands out. Hers is the most vividly drawn character, and she grasps her histrionic opportunities greedily, steaming with indignant rage.”

– Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

“There is some terrific singing to be heard here, especially from Elizabeth Watts, rising intrepidly to the coloratura challenges of the role of Mandane”

– Barry Millington, The Evening Standard

Schubert: Lieder

“Rising star Elizabeth Watts makes her recording debut with this collection of 20 Schubert songs and immediately makes plain why she is one of today’s most talked-about young sopranos. Her beautiful, honey-toned voice, perfect intonation and innate understanding of this repertoire makes this a stand-out CD. She charms with the moonlight of ‘An den Mond’, glows with the sunset of ‘Im Abendrot’ and breaks our hearts with the sadness of ‘Lambertine’. Roger Vignoles has been playing these songs for years, yet sounds as fresh as his young companion, who must surely have a glittering career ahead.”

Stephen Pritchard, The Observer

“Among younger-generation English sopranos Watts stands out for her milky timbre and interpretative maturity, showcased by this totally charming recital. Accompanied by Roger Vignoles, she creates a sense of poignancy in each of these 21 songs without ladling on the emotion. There’s a glowing “Im Abendrot”, a spirited “Die Forelle” and an achingly pretty “Nacht und Träume.”

Andrew Clark, Financial Times

“Soprano Elizabeth Watts represented her country in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, where she won the coveted Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize. A former Ferrier Prize-winner, she’s also a BBC ‘New Generation Artist’ – a singer clearly on the rise. Watts’ debut solo disc of Schubert songs mixes the super-familiar with the fairly familiar and the virtually forgotten…The disc’s great strength is the voice itself, certainly one of the most beautiful that Britain has produced in a generation. Listen to Im Abendrot and you’ll hear real bloom in the sound, a lyric soprano as ravishing as one could possibly want in this repertoire.”

International Record Review

“Having won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize, the Kathleen Ferrier Prize, and two 2007 Young Artist of the Year prizes, Elizabeth Watts is clearly one of the brightest new talents.

For her recording debut she’s chosen a selection of Schubert lieder, from crowd-pleasers such as “Night and Dreams” to the darker tones of Schiller’s Wallenstein trilogy. The verses set by Schubert are very of their time, focusing on the allegorical pantheism favoured in German Romanticism of the period: at times, it’s like listening to the musical equivalent of a windswept Caspar David Friedrich landscape, with the singer gazing out over some emotional abyss. Watts treats the material with care and restraint, her measured delivery conveying an appealing elegance, particularly on love songs such as the exquisite nocturne “Nearness of the Beloved”. She’s greatly aided by pianist Roger Vignoles, matching her playful delivery of “The Trout” with frolicsome flourishes as the fish splashes in the brook.”

Andy Gill, The Independent

“Elizabeth Watts’s youthful lyric soprano will already be familiar to many listeners through her personable appearances in the 2007 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Schubert was a wise choice for a debut recital, the songs are carefully programmed and Watts’s youthful radiant delivery, with no flaws in technique that I can hear, fits many of the Lieder like a glove…’An den Mond’ makes a fine, introspective start; focused youthful exuberance freshens up ‘Die Forelle’, and innocence charms in ‘Nachtviolen’. A few lines like the soaring in ‘Liane’ certainly stand out, and a darker tone-colour briefly makes its mark in ‘Des Madchens Klage’ (time and again I hear Mozart’s Pamina, an ideal role for Watts at this stage)”.

David Nice, BBC Music Magazine

GRAMOPHONE EDITOR’S CHOICE

“Hailed as a singer to watch after winning the 2006 Kathleen Ferrier Award and the 2007 Cardiff Song Prize, Elizabeth Watts makes her CD debut with this refreshingly unhackneyed Schubert programme. Perennial soprano favourites – “Die Forelle”, “Nacht und Träume”, “Frühlingsglaube”, “Suleika” – are not shunned. But Watts has alighted on some rarely aired gems. How often in recital do we hear the agitated scena-in-miniature “Aus Diego Manzanares”; or the playfully charming paean to spring “Die Blumensprache”; or the Novalis setting “Marie”, where sacred and profane blur in a song of exquisite, rarefied grace?

A voice in its first, radiant freshness is always to be cherished in Schubert. Watts is a thoughtful interpreter, too, alive to mood and atmosphere, colouring her tone in response to a darkening of the harmony in, say, “Sei mir gegrüsst”. Crucially, she also brings a measure of innocence and simplicity – not quite the same thing as artlessness – to many of these songs, allied to a technical mastery that allows her to spin a rapt, unblemished line in “Nacht und Träume”. Encouraged by Vignoles’s buoyant accompaniment, she makes an engaging story-teller in “Die Forelle”, with an unexaggerated touch of indignation at the angler’s treachery; and she sings the mildly salacious refrain song “Die Männer sind méchant” with just the right wide-eyed mock-pathos…”

Richard Wigmore, Gramophone

“The winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2006 and Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize in 2007, Watts is the new soprano to hear. She proves herself an ideal lieder singer on this Schubert disc with her bright tone, infallible tuning, clear German diction, innate lover’s sadness and ability to portray a scene and tell a story simply and vividly. The silver glint in her voice matches the shrouded moonlight in An den Mond, as well as the nightingale in An die Nachtigall. She has a strong sense of partnership with her pianist, Roger Vignoles, who gurgles playfully in Die Forelle, while she, at first charmed, registers bitter disappointment when the trout is captured.”

Rick Jones, The Times

“Having selected a Schubert album for her debut on RCA Red Seal, Elizabeth Watts’ shows her taste and audacity in her choice of repertoire. We are especially delighted… Roger Vignoles, as always, is a meticulous and communicating accompanist.” (translated from the original German)

Pizzicato Press