“Ms. Margaine fully inhabited her character with a vocal performance that underlined the calculation behind the lascivious demeanor. As an actress, she commands something like the stylized expressions of silent-film-era sirens. There is an air of self-loathing about this Carmen that explains why she not only accepts her death at the hands of her jealous lover but also actively orchestrates it.

Smooth and guarded, Ms. Margaine’s singing included touches of straight tone where her inky low notes took on the street-savvy sound of a chansonnière. The sense of tension and control gave way only in the final scene, where, apparently energized by imminent death, her Carmen produced an entirely new sound of bright, fiery power.”

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim – The New York Times

Clémentine Margaine, another French mezzo slated to sing the balance of this season’s performances, was enlisted to fill in the gap, and proved sensational in her company debut Thursday night.

Margaine has both the vocal and dramatic chops required to give a truly memorable account of this touchstone role. She has a round, dark tone that projects easily and clearly in almost every part of her range … her upper range shoots into the house and her chest crackles with warmth. 

She brought a laser focus to her interpretation of the role–no flighty seductress flitting about on a whim, Margaine’s Carmen is a driven woman of ambition who knows exactly how to get her way. She brilliantly channels this dramatic sense into her vocal interpretation, commanding attention with the sultry intensity of her singing. Her Habanera was daring, a steamy, free-handed rendition of some of the sexiest music in the operatic rep; she kept up that commitment throughout, spitting defiance in the faces of the officers during her interrogation, and bitterly resisting Don José in their final confrontation right until her tragic end. It was astonishing to see just how much energy she still had in reserve for that crucial final scene, driving the piece to its conclusion with breathtaking force.”

Eric C. Simpson – New York Classical Review

Image: Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera