"These new live recordings... both are enjoyable: well sung and characterised, and convincingly (often swiftly) paced by two seasoned Handelians (McGegan was Cummings’s predecessor as director of the Göttingen Handel Festival)... Yet on the whole McGegan’s performance fields the stronger cast... He is outshone by the rich-toned Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, whether in a beautifully sculpted ‘O Lord whose mercies wonderless’ or the noble elegy of ‘O fatal day’.”
“An A-list cast headed by rising-star countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, as David... The American Nussbaum Cohen proves a winning David; his shapely arias are smooth as butter. “O King, Your Favours With Delight,” and especially “O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless,” ravish the ear... His rich, gender-ambiguous tone is suitably otherworldly.”
By Clive Paget
"There are so many touches to savor, both in the instrumental accents and the phrasing of McGegan’s fine crop of soloists. PBO’s cast ensures that all but the most inattentive of listeners will get the dialogue... Most touching... countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen’s... sympathetic David... There are many times when the sound and music are so captivating that you may find yourself closing your eyes as you relish their beauties."
“Musically vibrant, satisfying and festive... Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen brought his broad melodic line from the first note. Fast, dynamic, energetic arpeggios and gorgeous trills characterized his solos, recitative and songs. This was especially notable in his vibrant embroidery of the phrase “Refiner’s Fire.” At moments, his tone swelled with a fine, hooded quality, that added breadth to the line. As with all strong and simple texts, Cohen used eloquent embellishments that tripled and quadrupled meaning. It was as if it echoed far beyond its basic tonality.”
"Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen... has been a break-out star from the beginning, and assignments at SFO and abroad put him on the radar of prestigious houses worldwide. His Adler Concert selections included exquisite Handel and Mozart, and a heartbreakingly gorgeous Berlioz song."
“Second-year Adler Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (a countertenor from New York), who has already had a lot of success in his short career, gave an excellent rendition of an aria from Handel’s Siroe (another one not familiar to me)... Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen in a stunning rendition of an aria from Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Ete.”
By D.L. Groover
“Full of scenic wonders, stunning music, magnificent performances, thunderous choruses, and elegant direction, Houston Grand Opera's presentation of George Frideric Handel's commanding oratorio Saul (1739) might just be legendary... a huge success. What an electrifying show this is, mesmerizing and thoroughly provocative throughout... Last heard last season in Ars Lyrica Houston's stunning Agrippina, another Handel masterwork, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is a vocal wonder. Caramel and crystalline, his voice could melt the hardest hearts, as his David does. Supple and extremely flexible, his ethereal high countertenor superbly matches the young wonder-struck warrior, the beauty of friendship with Jonathan, the stirring love for Michal, the conflicting duty to Saul.”
By Michael Clark
“Houston Grand Opera's production of Handel’s Saul is a unique treat... the chorus has become a mob of fans, fawning over their new hero, the young David played by countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. It’s no wonder why they admire him; at the young age of 25, Cohen has a voice of warmth and purity that yielded an angelic quality to his performance. He handles the florid melismas of each aria with total ease. As the first act continues and all the characters literally sing his praises, it appears the show might have been better titled David.”
By Chris Gray
“’Houston Grand Opera’s revival... is grandiose, irreverent, and a little jarring. All good things. This “Saul” is a gas... As David, at first Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen... fresh wounds streaking his torso, the rest of the cast regards David like he’s an alien. It might well be the American countertenor’s otherworldly register; in his Act 1 duet with Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman, as Saul’s excitable yet kind-hearted daughter Michal, their voices could be two sides of the same coin. Cohen’s vocals also mesh harmoniously with tenor Paul Appleby.”
By Steven Brown
“HGO’s cast made the downward trajectory coalesce into a powerful saga of nobility colliding with envy and obsession... Kosky and Stirrup made David’s dignity the counterpoint to Saul’s violence, and countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen captured that in the hero’s singing and demeanor alike.
Cohen brought purity, poise and eloquence to David’s attempt at consoling Saul–the gentle aria “Oh Lord, whose mercies numberless”–and the last-scene lament for David’s slain friend Jonathan. Yet Cohen also sang with nimbleness and vibrancy when happier emotions came to the fore.
Cohen’s David by and large carried himself with a stillness that exuded nobility, and he also captured a tender streak in Kosky’s staging. In the first scene, as the victorious David accepted everyone’s salutes, he kissed Saul on the forehead. During “Oh Lord, whose mercies numberless,” Cohen’s David lowered himself to the ground next to Saul and cradled him in his arms.”
“As David, Cohen’s countertenor bore all of the best qualities of that voice type: an evenness throughout his alto range, clean and clear passagework, and above all, a glistening, silvery quality that befits the heroic protagonists of eighteenth-century operas and oratorios..."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE | Continue reading
By Joshua Kosman
“The art form could hardly have put a better face forward. As the sun beat down and thousands of attendees splayed across the meadow and the adjoining hillside with picnic baskets and blankets, the park filled with the kind of musical delights that don’t always arrive in such beguiling surroundings. They included countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen’s ravishing account of “Ombra mai fù” from Handel’s “Xerxes” — which all by itself would have been enough to persuade even a skeptical listener of opera’s splendid possibilities.”
“Without question, the recording, which is also available from various streaming services, shows Nussbaum Cohen as a complete artist with an impressive technique. Diction, phrasing, breath support, full rounded tone, and a flair for ornamentation — the veritable checklist of technical attributes essential to great Baroque singing — are there in spades. So is a total commitment to the swings between melancholy, despair, anguish, nobility, fury, pain, and love under duress at the core of the recital’s repertoire. One of the most impressive features of Nussbaum Cohen’s artistry is tonal consistency.”
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
By Jason Victor Serinus
“The Act 1 trio “Consolati, o bella” was a masterpiece; the singers told a whole story of coaxing, sympathy, and jealousy, while singing beautiful (and difficult) overlapping runs... The staging demanded nuanced acting from its cast, all of whom delivered... By now, Bay Area audiences should be accustomed to reading the praises of countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum-Cohen. He sang Medoro with buttery tone and lovable earnestness. Especially gorgeous was his smoothly sung Act 2 aria of aching nostalgia (“Verdi allori”).”
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
By Ilana Walder-Biesanz
By Georgie Rowe
“There was much to enjoy in this revival. The opening's breakout performance was that of countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, who offered a Medoro comprised of equal parts strength and refinement. His Act II aria, “Verdi allori,” was one of the opera’s high points—eloquent, shapely, and meltingly beautiful.”
By Joshua Kosman
“...countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro — his tone strong and gleaming, his phrasing endlessly eloquent.”
By James Ambroff-Tahan
“San Francisco Opera staged Handel’s “Orlando” for only the second time in its history after a 34-year absence Sunday afternoon, but Harry Fehr’s winning production, along with the excellent vocal quintet that graced it, will undoubtedly amplify appreciation and demand for the rarely performed Baroque gem... Countertenor and Adler Fellow Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen looked and sounded like a natural for the part of Medoro while making his SFO debut. Nussbaum Cohen’s youthful attractiveness was paired with a velvety, effortless voice, which was as beguiling in arias as it was the complementary center of Angelica and Dorinda’s attention in their sublime trio at the end of Act 1.”
“The evening’s most revelatory performance came from the young countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro... currently a second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, he displayed not only a mellifluous voice but also a remarkable musicality. He emphasized Medoro’s earnestness in such arias as “Vorrei poterti amar” or the sublime “Verdi allori”. Nussbaum Cohen seems already prepared for a great career that should include the title role of this very opera.”
“The triumph belonged to young countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro. The second-year Adler Fellow is on the fast track to stardom after many notable successes in 2019, which included a knockout appearance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in another Handel masterpiece, "Saul." Ready from the start for the mainstage of SFO, Nussbaum Cohen proved perfect in diction and tone for the role of likeable Medoro, caught between his admiration for Orlando's heroism and a genuine love for Angelica. His biggest strength lies in the sheer beauty of his voice, and he can back it with power and emotion.”
By Harvey Steiman
“Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, an Adler Fellow in the company’s young artist program, spun out Medoro’s music with astonishing richness in his mainstage debut... Cohen stole the show. He unleashed a countertenor of purity and focus — sleek, with an intoxicating timbral gleam. His phrasing was elegant and expressive... A star most certainly is born.”
By Joshua Kosman
“But just as in the score itself, this was an occasion on which David walked off with the crown.
That would be Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, the extravagantly gifted young countertenor whose every appearance only serves to add luster to an already remarkable level of accomplishment. At 25, an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera, he seemed poised to redefine what’s possible for singers of this distinctive voice type.
For one thing, Cohen’s singing boasts a combination of ethereal beauty and robust physicality that few countertenors can quite achieve. David, who appears in “Saul” in the double guise of angelic musician and mighty warrior, draws on both sides of this artistry... David’s aria “O Lord, whose mercies numberless” is a kind of invocation of the Orpheus myth, a tribute to the power of music to calm even the most unhinged spirits. Cohen’s rendition — produced with smooth, elegant tone and infused with just a hint of expressive urgency — was a distillation of David’s ingratiating power.
At the same time, Cohen’s performance was never less than heroic, as befits a king-in-waiting. The explosive power of “Impious wretch, of race accurst,” delivered in a hard-edged rhythmic flood, made you feel what it might be like to be on the opposing side of the battlefield from him.
Cohen’s blend of vocal sweetness and tonal heft is reminiscent of the early career of David Daniels, who as it happens was the David when Philharmonia last performed “Saul” in 1995... Yet there’s a vigor and approachability to Cohen’s artistry that are all his own...”
By Simon Williams
"The humane glow emanating from this performance came mainly from the exceptional musicianship of all engaged in it... Countertenor’s Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen’s extraordinarily flexible singing as David, was as confident in the stratospheric heights as it was in the warm calmative depths, establishing David as the emotional center of the work; his crushing sorrow at the death of Jonathan was the culminating moment of the drama. In contrast, his love for Michal was aptly reserved: David and Michal both admit that their love arises from admiration for each other’s virtue rather than from any erotic sources."
By Steven Winn
“As the virtuous and empathic David, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen captivated from his first self-effacing air — a dignified and demure “O king, your favors with delight I take.” Cohen, a rising star who impresses a listener more on each encounter, partnered in sweet accord with his betrothed Michal... Cohen mustered righteous rage in a number near the end and gave even the simplest line of recitative meaning and a sense of the moment. A supple expressiveness lit up register changes, the highest and lowest notes, and precisely furled ornaments.
Never was Cohen’s gift for making the countertenor’s rarefied air deeply human more evident than it was in a murmurous plea to heal Saul’s “wounded soul.” Here was singing of a high order, not because of pyrotechnics — the aria is daringly understated — but in the sheer, heart-sure conviction of every word and liquid phrase he sang.”
By Phillip Campbell
"The PBO debut of countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as David in "Saul" has created extraordinary buzz. He is breaking out on the national scene... but Bay Area audiences can claim an exciting early star-sighting. The minute he appears, that unmistakable quality is clear... The uncommon strength and soulful expressivity of his remarkable instrument... if anyone is destined to win new fans for countertenors, place your bets on the Brooklyn-born kid who won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2017."
Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen lived up to his advance billing. His countertenor voice is superbly rich in tonal variety, and his range is stupefying. Moreover, Cohen is an immensely gifted interpreter of the music he performs. With exquisite diction in Italian, Cohen brought immediacy and intensity to everything he sang at this New Year’s Eve concert. Perhaps the highlight of the whole affair was Cohen’s interpretation of “Che farò senza Euridice” from Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. This aria, of course, is a familiar chestnut; but Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen made it sound new and fresh...
By James Roy MacBean
“If future such events are anything like this one, Bay Area audiences are indeed fortunate, for this was magnificent. Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen lived up to his advance billing. His countertenor voice is superbly rich in tonal variety, and his range is stupefying. Moreover, Cohen is an immensely gifted interpreter of the music he performs. With exquisite diction in Italian, Cohen brought immediacy and intensity to everything he sang at this New Year’s Eve concert. Perhaps the highlight of the whole affair was Cohen’s interpretation of “Che farò senza Euridice” from Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. This aria, of course, is a familiar chestnut; but Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen made it sound new and fresh...
Given the prominence of Handel arias in this concert, there was plenty of coloratura. Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen wasted no time in showing off his adroit coloratura in his very first aria, “Sperai vicino il’ lido” from Gluck’s Demofoonte... From Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen unleashed plenty of vindictive coloratura in the aria “Empio, dirò, tu sei.” In addition to its coloratura passages, an aria from Handel’s Agrippina featured Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen holding a note for what seemed an eternity on the final syllable of the word “dolor”/”grief”. Equally impressive was Cohen’s agitated and spiteful aria “Vivi, tiranno, io t’ho scampato” from Handel’s Rodelinda, regina de’ Longobardi... What a splendid way to bring in the New Year!”
By Steven Winn
"It was Cohen who forged a scintillating connection with the audience. In the mood to celebrate, the audience gave this abundantly gifted and ingratiating young artist A Star is Born reception. He deserved every “Bravo!” and barrage of applause.
The countertenor, who made a notable impression in the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows’ concert earlier in December, set the agenda for this “Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera” early on, in an aria from Gluck’s opera Demofoonte. In a performance perfectly attuned to the passage from one year to the next, when minds turn simultaneously to time past and whatever might lie ahead, Cohen made each repetition of the opening stanza in “Sperai vicino il lido” (I hoped the shore was near) a poignant and probing exploration of the speaker’s emotional flow.
On subsequent repeats, he sounded weary and world-wise and finally potent with desperation in the clench of this recurring, seemingly inescapable storm. His voice became a wail, at once reckless and musically disciplined, which only heightened the pain. Anyone who thought that countertenors lack expressive range was hereby and thoroughly disabused of that notion.
The concert was filled with such treats — a boxful of bittersweets. None were more exquisite and memorable than the three selections from Handel’s Rodelinda. With “Dove sei, amato bene?” (Where are you, beloved?) Cohen turned a lover’s need for his beloved into an existential plea. The Herbst fell silent from the heart-rending truth of it, rendered in one softly heaving musical swell after another. Three centuries fell away. Cohen’s Bertarido was right there, his pain alive for everyone to hear and witness."
By Fridericke Heuer
“Think of how rarely these days you experience yourself in a group, jointly reacting to a shared input... our lives are pretty much lived as individuals and not as part of a feeling whole, in contrast to most of our history as a species. On Friday night there was such an experience when the young countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen stepped up for his first recitative (3. Nun wird mein liebster Bräutigam) and a disbelieving hush descended on the still restless hall, stunned by a voice that was crystalline without being harsh on the edges, melodious perfection for the tender words he had to utter. The combination of musical accomplishment with his empathy for the role and his ability to communicate with the audience was astonishing in one so young. It didn’t hurt to see his etherial presence in the 31. Aria Schließe mein Herz dies selige Wunder be balanced by boyish charm during the soloists’ entrance to the stage...”
“Variety and range were the defining virtues of the evening. The wonderfully supple and expressive countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen took on both Handel and Rossini with comparable assurance and aplomb."
SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
By Steven Winn
“Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen... gave a poignant and rich rendering of an aria from Handel’s Admeto... Next was Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and another knock-out aria, this one from Rossini’s Tancredi.
By Elsa Tranter
By Joshua Kosman
Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a countertenor of remarkable agility and heroism... Cohen put his extraordinary vocal sonority – muscular, sleek and full of enchanting colors – to use in a dramatic aria from Handel’s “Admeto,” then returned after intermission for a pinpoint account of the showcase “Di tanti palpiti” from Rossini’s “Tancredi.”"
BAY AREA REPORTER
By Philip Campbell
“Everyone on the bill deserved cum laude recognition. First-year countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Brooklyn, NY) merited summa cum laude mention. His professional demeanor and stunning ability were immediately apparent when he first appeared in San Francisco, and he set the seal on his promise, singing florid and dramatically expressive arias from Handel's "Admeto" and Rossini's "Tancredi." Like so many of his classmates, he's already set for stardom.”
TEXAS CLASSICAL REVIEW
By Steven Brown
"Ottone, the opera’s only honest and sincere character, was also the one that came across most compellingly Friday, thanks to countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. For all the flair he brought the role of Nirenus in Handel’s Julius Caesar in last season’s HGO production, Cohen wielded a new emotional heft as Ottone.
Cohen’s voice boasted a warmth that few countertenors share; combined with the fluency and poise of his singing, his voice let Ottone’s arias exude forthrightness and nobility. The emotional climax came halfway through the story–when Ottone, though no fault of his own, suffers rejection by everyone around him. Cohen made Ottone’s response, “Voi che udite il mio lamento,” a musical portrait of desolation, from pianissimo phrases that were pale as death to surges of vibrant, plaintive sound...
Stage director Tara Faircloth emphasized comedy... But for Handel’s serious moments–as in Ottone’s big aria,–Faircloth quieted everything down, and the poignant results helped Handel’s extraordinary music tell its story."
By D.L. Groover
“Ars Lyrica, Houston's preeminent early music ensemble, under the sparkling direction of Matthew Dirst, has staged an utterly magnificent production of George Frideric Handel's first international smash hit: his baroque opera seria Agrippina (1709)... While the entire cast is super, two voices stand out: John Holiday as Nero and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Otho... Cohen... has a melting caramel voice, handsome stage presence, and charm to spare. Among Handel's nest of vipers, Otho's the hero and Cohen sounds like it..."
“A solo cello answers the vocal line, then voice and cello counterpoint continues into the second poem, “Time Slips Away.” Nussbaum Cohen’s attractive, gently pulsating countertenor intertwines beautifully with Tim Hugh’s rich, singing cello line... Nussbaum Cohen is subtle and expressive, with cushiony, admirably consistent tone that resonates comfortably with Fuchs’ lush orchestrations.”
By Joshua Rosenblum
L'incoronazione di Poppea
CINCINNATI OPERA | JUNE / JULY 2018
“The cast was ideal, with most of the singers making their Cincinnati Opera debuts…Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen was an affecting Ottone, his soft-grained voice a good foil to Costanzo’s brighter timbre. Like his fellow cast members, Cohen projected Monteverdi’s long lines sensitively, and the scene in which he and Drusilla try to protect each other from Nerone’s wrath was moving.”
By Joe Law
“Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen brought warmth and touching expression to the role of Ottone.”
"HGO gives us three “countertenors:” international superstar Anthony Roth Costanzo (Caesar); David Daniels, one of opera's veterans, the best anywhere (Ptolemy); and newbie Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Nirenus)... If you've ever rubbed a wet finger around the rim of an expensive wine glass, you know the aural quality of a fine countertenor: ethereal, hypnotic, ambiguous. The voice, un-gendered as it were, sounds like music from a moon of Saturn – clean, bright, unsexed. All of these accomplished artists have that sound....Young Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, though, may be the one to watch. Recent recipient of all sorts of opera awards (HGO's Concert of Arias, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Richard Tucker Music Foundation, George London Foundation), this countertenor has a lovely velvet side to his upper sheen. Though not a large role, Nirenus the eunuch is the comic foil, and Cohen silkily surpasses expectations with nimble artistry, gorgeous voice, and musical chops."
By D. L. Groover
"Because the opera originally called for three castrati, today it’s common to hear contraltos or mezzo-sopranos in the roles of Caesar, Ptolemy and Nirenus. HGO has an impressive trio of countertenors instead... Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, as Nirenus, is the sweet voice I can’t forget, pure and surprisingly hefty for its high range."
By Sydney Boyd
HOUSTON GRAND OPERA | NOVEMBER 2017
By Zachary Woolfe
"...In a competition that hews toward the standards, Mr. Cohen chose a harrowing aria from Jonathan Dove’s 1998 opera “Flight,” based on the true story of an Iranian refugee stranded in a Paris airport for years. While most young performers in the National Council Auditions concentrate simply on nailing their high notes, Mr. Cohen — his diction superb, his acting alert without overplaying — provided an eloquent reflection on a current international crisis.
But he is no contemporary specialist. Twenty-first-century singers, like 21st-century instrumentalists and orchestras, are rightly expected to range widely as well as deeply. For his second selection (the nine finalists each picked two pieces to perform with the Met orchestra, conducted by Nicola Luisotti), Mr. Cohen balanced the aria from “Flight” with “Dove sei,” an aching lament from Handel’s “Rodelinda” (1725). Expressive yet dignified, his phrasing confident and his ornamentation stylishly discreet, he brought tears to my eyes.
Mr. Cohen was deservedly named one of the competition’s six winners, but he stood clearly apart from the pack... There was only one singer who could plausibly stand with the voluptuous-voiced Jamie Barton, the commanding Amber Wagner and the impassioned Michael Fabiano — the distinguished previous winners who performed while the judges deliberated. Mr. Cohen is ready."
By James Monroe Stevko
"Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, the victorious countertenor and perhaps the concert’s showstopper, is a natural actor who seems to have done his dramatic homework. In both of his performances, “Pompe vane di morte…Dove sie amato bene?” of Handel’s “Rodelinda” and “Dawn, still darkness” from “Flight” by Jonathan Dove, Cohen very clearly envisioned the opera in his head and transported the entire audience with him, so much so that the audience could barely hold back its enthusiastic applause after his final notes."
By Eric Skelly
"...The performance found a new gear altogether in the third act, thanks largely to rising young countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as the 3rd Israelite. In the dolorous recitative "How Have Our Sins Provoked the Lord" and aria "O Jordan, Jordan, Sacred Tide," he reacts to Haman's decree that all Jews in Persia are to be slaughtered. Cohen employed mournful vocal colors as his countertenor easily filled the hall with luscious tone. The anguish playing across his face as he sang drove the impending tragedy home to great expressive effect. As with all his oratorios, Handel seemed to be inspired by "Esther's" dramatic biblical narrative in a way that the often trite plots he was saddled with in his operas did not. Cohen joined Dirst and the orchestra to seize upon Handel's inspiration and elevate this scene beyond concert music-making, bringing "Esther" to vivid, dramatic life."
"After hearing Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen's Nirenus in HGO's fall production of Handel's "Julius Caesar," more than one operagoer could be heard wishing the young countertenor had been cast in the title role. Sunday, they got their wish, as Cohen and soprano Mané Galoyan teamed up for Caesar's final duet with Cleopatra. Cohen's commanding stage presence, gorgeous tone and musical sensitivity - at one point decrescendoing down to a limpid pianissimo that Montserrat Caballé would envy - were all on display here, as earlier in his supernaturally exotic Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In performances with HGO, the Studio, Ars Lyrica and elsewhere about town, Cohen is having an extraordinary year."
By Eric Skelly