Alex Penda triumphs in Santa Fe Opera as Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio

Vocally, Ms. Penda excelled, taking, in our opinion, a somewhat masculine approach to her diction and delivery, appropriate for a woman in male disguise who’s trying to be convincing as she infiltrates the prison’s security. She also dealt forthrightly with Beethoven’s strenuous, heroic arias and their lengthy phrasing, apparently without fatiguing despite her character’s substantial amount of time on stage…
Rating: 4 out of 4 stars
Terry Ponick, Communities Digital News, 14 August 2014

Soprano Alex Penda (née Alexandrina Pendatchanska) was a dynamo in the title role.The Classical Review, 06 August 2014

Short and slender, the Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda is the rare Leonore physically plausible in male drag as “Fidelio.” As Rocco’s mysterious assistant, and the object of Marzelline’s infatuation, he/she even speaks in an surprisingly boyish tenor. But quite an imposing singing voice comes out of that compact body, with white-hot tones at climactic moments, but also breathtaking high pianissimos.Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News, 02 August 2014

Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda was a physically diminutive, hugely dramatic, vocally superlative Leonore, always attentive to details, completely convincing as the old jailer’s apprentice boy. She was never better than in her Abscheulicher aria, which she sang with the abandon and fierceness listeners have come to expect from the great interpreters of this role. To that list her name should now be added.Seen and Heard, 21 July 2014

Alex Penda returns to the SFO as Leonore after an absence of 14 years since her debut in Rossini’s many-tenored Ermione. Most Leonores of the past century have been of the trumpeting Wagnerian ilk, as have many Florestans. Not here. Penda’s soprano is persuasively dramatic, but lighter and brighter than we often hear, while packed with enough power to prevail over Beethoven’s large-scale orchestra. It’s a lustrous sound, never more so than in the radiant “Komm, Hoffnung” section of her first act scena. And please note the exceptional French horns there.Santa Fe Reporter, July 17, 2014

Bulgarian Soprano Alex Penda has an impressive instrument that demonstrates great flexibility along with astonishing dynamic control. Penda’s delicate high pianissimi are perfection, and her chesty lower notes are surprisingly resonant. It is difficult to imagine a more suitable voice for Leonore. Florestan doesn’t appear until later in the opera; however, tenor Paul Groves leaves a lasting impression on the audience. His voice is a superb match for Penda’s and his acting is effective without being overdone.LA Monitor, July 17, 2014

Leonora/Fidelio was sung by Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda (also known as Alexandrina Pendatchanska, a name I much prefer). She is a petite figure on stage with a large voice.  She handled with aplomb the range of her arias from low to high. She also looked good in a half slip and bra when contemplating her womanhood in the mirror.operabuff-sandiego, July 29, 2014

The uniformly excellent cast is led by Bulgarian soprano Alex Penda in the title role. Possessing the large and expressive voice required for her aria Abscheulicher! (Monster!), she was impressive in this heroic role, her voice blending beautifully in her ensembles with her colleagues.

Wadsworth, whose attention to detail is evident in all his work, assigned her pantomime scenes of intimate moments, including dressing and undressing in the privacy of her room – even a few moments of rest iwearing only her slip.

01 August 2014