“ Newcomer Aaron Blake was arguably the evening’s most astounding performer. A perfect princely Idamante in looks and masterful acting ability, he displayed a voice of tender sweetness, virile strength, and overwhelming emotional conviction. Veteran OSJ opera-goers were abuzz with admiration and curiosity, as the program information was minimal. A graduate of Juilliard and the Rice University’s Masters Program, Blake has been busy in opera companies from Santa Fe and Utah to Dallas, where he was named Artist in Residence, a rare honor.
Whether in despair over Ilia’s coldness or his father’s seeming rejection, or in heroic mode ready to fight the terrible monster sent by an angry Neptune, he was unfailingly noble in bearing and countenance, and touchingly credibly human. His finest moment came when, learning of his father’s sacrificial vow, he presented himself at the altar as a willing victim. The ensuing father-son scene was as viscerally affecting as any later Verdi father-daughter duet. ”