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Musical World

Audra McDonald

  • Jazz
  • Soprano


Audra McDonald

“Indeed this young soprano-who-acts, or actress-who-sings, is hitting yet another crest in what is proving to be a barrier-busting career, one that seems to be all peaks and no valleys.”

The Times (London), July 9, 2004

In Concert at the Tanglewood Music Festival

McDonald can do most anything, from the tongue-twisting patter of Frank Loesser’s ‘Can’t Stop Talking’ (a Betty Hutton specialty), to a turn at the piano, accompanying herself on Adam Guettel’s ‘Migratory V’…As McDonald moved into such deeper emotional territory — a healthy dose of Stephen Sondheim, including a rich, powerful rendition of ‘The Glamorous Life’ — she completed an effortless turn from dexterity to strength, a turn more impressive for being imperceptibly gradual. Like Sondheim, McDonald does amazing things by often seeming to do very little at all.”

Matthew Guerrieri, Boston Globe, July 20, 2010


“Resplendent in a floral- design silk dress, Audra McDonald sustained her reputation Sunday night as a leading Broadway actress, American songbook vocalist and star performer with major orchestras and opera companies. Her 90-minute, intermission- free, 18-song set at a soldout Ozawa Hall (with one of the largest lawn crowds in recent memory) represented a manysplendored sampling of her diverse repertoire enhanced by her ability to forge an immediate, intimate rapport with the audience.”

Charles Fanto, The Berkshire Eagle, July 20, 2010


“On Sunday evening, four-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald came out onto the stage of Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and launched right into her first song… It was the perfect way to start the concert, giving the audience exactly what they had come to hear: her voice. Her voice is gorgeous. It is lush, expressive, rich, full of color and texture, and beautiful in tone. Am I overstating it? Not really. Her singing voice is simply wonderful, and she makes it look so easy. When McDonald wasn’t singing, she charmed any audience members who weren’t already won over with her easy manner and humorous anecdotes.”

Lesley Ann Beck, Berkshire Living, July 19, 2010


In Concert with the San Francisco Symphony

“Audra McDonald is our Judy, our Barbra, as in Garland and Streisand. Yeah, yeah, it’s a heresy to say it, to strike a comparison between anyone from this era and those Hall of Fame divas. But how else to explain the electric commotion accompanying McDonald's mere stepping out onto the stage Monday night at Davies Symphony Hall? She’s the diva next door: tall, a tiny bit gawky, totally gorgeous—and that voice. Full and mellow, elegant and sexy, lush, plush, brassy, growling, howling across her gigantic range, or expressing starry-eyed enchantment. She pounces on a song like a cat, then lives inside it.”

Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News, April 27, 2010

“The roar from the crowd at a packed Davies Symphony Hall Monday night was unnerving. It was loud and deep and it went on and on. The reception for Audra McDonald, summery in a pink and orange shift, brought to mind some of the most enthusiastic initial applauses I remember in the house: Barbara Cook, Gustavo Dudamel, Montserrat Caballe... But there was something different. On other nights, the applause subsided as the performance began. On Monday, after McDonald motioned for silence, she started singing, and after the first line — ‘Look at me ...’ — the roar returned. Then she sang: ‘I am GORGEOUS!’ and eardrums were pierced by the audience.”

Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice, April 27, 2010


2008 U.S. Concert Tour

“Audra McDonald is indeed a force to be reckoned with…on Sunday evening, she dazzled the audience at Zellerbach Hall with an eclectic mix of old standards, newer Broadway numbers and pop music. (…) Over the course of the evening, her range and acting talent blended to create a thoroughly enjoyably and memorable performance. (…) Like all great performers, McDonald was not content to merely sing. She told stories, laughed along with those around her and otherwise displayed intimate behavior not expected from a woman with such a daunting resume. The singer may be a Broadway diva, but she displayed a warm demeanor and candid tone. (…)With a singer as talented as McDonald, we can surely count on other great performances ahead-and maybe even a few more Tonys.”

Louis Peitzman, The Daily Californian, June 5, 2008


With a sweet belt and solid stage presence, Audra McDonald can fill the largest of spaces with her vocal and acting talents. But what makes her concerts so engaging is her ability to achieve an intimacy with an audience even in a venue like the cavernous Stanley Theatre… the truth is that when it comes to McDonald's voice, one is just never going to get enough of it.”

Wayne Myers, Oneida Dispatch, May 2, 2008


In concert at the Ravinia Festival with Patti LuPone

“If I had to name a winner of the duel, it was McDonald, in large part because her choice of songs is so audacious, and her dramatic examination of them is so deep, clear, fresh and immediate. She is a real glamour girl these days, queenly yet approachable, so when she burst into her first solo, ‘Gorgeous,’ the fiendishly difficult Bock and Harnick song from ‘The Apple Tree’ – looking stunning in a simple but beautiful body-hugging black gown – no one could argue.”

ChicagoSun-Times, August 28, 2007


110 in the Shade, Broadway revival

“Audra McDonald brings such breadth of skill and depth of feeling to the Roundabout Theater Company revival of ‘110 in the Shade’ that she threatens to burst the seams of this small, homey musical. Ravishing of voice and Olympian of stature, she’s an overwhelming presence.”

The New York Times, May 10, 2007


“If the government were really serious about solving a problem like global warming, it might consider reaching out to Audra McDonald. Because simply put, the woman can do anything. Well, okay, maybe she can't prevent the ice caps from melting. But when this divine actress is on a stage, some large portion of the elements do seem to be under her control.”

WashingtonPost, June 2, 2007


The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonnyat Los Angeles Opera

“The performer who covers all the bases is Audra McDonald, singing the role of the prostitute Jenny with impeccable musicianship while exuding eyebrow-raising sexiness and sass. Burning in her eyes, from her first entrance, is a cold ambition to get ahead, which turns deliciously poisonous in Act III: she makes the ‘Benares Song’—‘There is not much fun on this star’—a thing of drugged beauty, the pursuit of pleasure transformed into empty compulsion.”

The New Yorker, March 5, 2007


In concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center

“The magic of McDonald, as displayed in a concert that opened Lincoln Center's American Songbook season, is such that she's continually able to surpass expectations. Everything is better than perfection, and she makes it look like fun, too.”

Variety, October 12, 2006