Critical Acclaim

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Acclaim for Saleswoman in New York City Opera’s Brokeback Mountain

"Several of the supporting singers—Melissa Parks (the bartender), Sarah Heltzel (the saleswoman) and Kevin Courtemanche (Jack’s father)—created entire worlds for their characters to inhabit out of a handful of lines.  - Oussama Zahr, Opera News, 31 May 2018 

Good cameos came from... Sarah Heltzel (Saleswoman)...- David Shengold, Gay City News, 4 June 2018

“Sarah Heltzel brought a bright... mezzo as the saleswoman trying to sell Alma her wedding dress.” - Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review, 1 June 2018

“Sarah Heltzel as the Saleswoman in the bridal shop where Alma goes to prepare for her wedding, as well as mezzo-soprano Kristee Haney as Alma’s mother are effective in their one-scene roles.” - Victor Gluck,, 3 June 2018

Acclaim for Charlotte & Desirée in A Little Night Music

"Sarah Heltzel excelled as an acid-tongued countess, providing comedy and vocal brilliance." (as Charlotte at Phoenicia Festival)

  1. - Violet Snow, Woodstock Times,  7 Aug 2015

"...the ballad “Send in the Clowns,” delivered with deep sensitivity by Sarah Heltzel... As the middle-aged actress now at the twilight of her successful stage career, Heltzel crafts an unusually sympathetic Desirée whose character runs deeper than the reckless “fool” her mother Madame Armfeldt would have us believe... As an actress, Heltzel is a natural in terms of stage deportment and body gestures. She took command of the stage immediately, leaving no question as to whose name is in lights, and spoke clearly with impeccable diction."

- David Abrams, Opera Today, February 8, 2015

"Heltzel is almost always on stage, the range of her passionate, sultry mezzo extending from brittle - "The Glamorous Life" -- to tender. She sings "Send in the Clowns" at a level of emotion that teeters on the edge of credibility given her stalwart character. To her credit, she pulls it off, creating the tension called for in Sondheim's signature song. The reprise of "Clowns," a duet with Clark at the end, is more understated, perfect for the reuniting of these mature lovers."

  1. -Linda Loomis,, February 7, 2015

Acclaim for Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana

“Heltzel’s rich mezzo voice gives full expression to Santuzza’s despair, jealousy and rage.” - Claude Scales, “GCB/SOB’s Cavalleria Rusticana Amazes,” Brooklyn Heights Blog, Nov 23, 2014

“Tenor Alex Richardson (Turiddu), and mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel (Santuzza), were both operatic standouts in their respective roles, and both, indeed, vocally powerful, melodic and appealing… continually kindling interest, evoking sincerity, and maintaining the substantial audience’s undiverted attention.” - H. J. Scheiber, nybeat-cultureonashoestring, Dec 11, 2014

Acclaim for Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi

"Sarah Heltzel makes a very handsome young man, ardent and sleek, and handy with a rapier. Her rich, powerhouse voice travels high to low without strain and is equally supple too, scaling with effortless grace those essential vocal arabesques of which the nineteen-century ear was so enamored. As envoy for the Montagues, Romeo is dignified in "Se Romeo t'uccise un figlio," where he laments killing Capulet's son in battle, then bursts into a searing cabaletta where he vows revenge when his marriage proposal is rebuffed by his enemy. Heltzel chewed up this double-aria.  Throughout, she was never less than first-class.” - D.L Groover, Houston Press, Nov 9, 2012

"...the production boasts two particularly potent star performances in mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel’s heroic Romeo and soprano Camille Zamora’s passionate Giulietta. They make a power couple to reckon with... Heltzel projects Romeo's youthful ardor, heroism and impulsiveness, her voice maintaining its clarion strength throughout her wide range. Everything about her performance radiates vigor and conviction... Even by another name, this is Romeo and Giulietta's show all the way - especially when Heltzel and Zamora are unfurling Bellini's bel canto splendors." - Everett Evans, Houston Chronicle, Nov 13, 2012

“Mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel is absolutely stunning as Romeo. Her robust tones strike the perfect balance of power and subtlety. The gorgeous Ms. Heltzel makes quite a handsome and beguiling Romeo and her acting is so convincing and authoritative that we believe without a shadow of a doubt that she is Romeo.” - Buzz Bellmont, Houston Chronicle Blog, Nov 13, 2012

Feature on Jo in Little Women

“Channeling Jo: Sarah Heltzel stars in Opera on the James’ ‘Little Women’”, by Casey Gillis, The Burg, Mar 26, 2014

Acclaim for Der Ring des Nibelungen

“Speaking of soaring, two women who subbed on short notice were outstanding. Soprano Lori Phillips... and Mezzo Sarah Heltzel stole scenes as Fricka, spewing venom as she skewered husband Wotan”  - Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press Sept 14, 2013 [Minnesota Concert Opera Mini-Ring]

“The troupe of Valkyries - Wendy Bryn Harmer, Jessica Klein, Suzanne Hendrix, Luretta Bybee, Tamara Mancini, Sarah Heltzel, Renee Tatum and Cecelia Hall - are terrific, moving from roistering jollity to terror and grief at Brünnhilde’s punishment.”

- Melinda Bargreen, “Setting the Night on Fire: Die Walküre at Seattle Opera,” Seattle Times, August 6, 2013

Acclaim for Azucena in Il Trovatore

“With Michelle Johnson raising goose bumps as the tragic heroine Leonora and Sarah Heltzel making hair stand on end as the insanely vengeful gypsy Azucena, Opera in the Heights' "Il Trovatore" delivers a thrilling realization of the beloved Giuseppe Verdi masterpiece. Johnson and Heltzel set the standard for a sterling rendition blessed with strong voices in all the leads... Heltzel sets the stage ablaze with her vocal and dramatic pyrotechnics as the weirdly witchy Azucena. Recalling her mother’s fate for questing for vengeance, always both tormented and bloodthirsty, Heltzel delivers every fiery aria with awesome fervor and intensity.”

  1. -Everett Evans, Houston Chronicle, Mar 21, 2012

“Sarah Heltzel’s superb acting turned Azucena from a caricature of a gypsy villain to a sympathetic, multi-dimensional character. Through little more than a tilted head or a narrowed eye, she portrayed a woman barely clinging to sanity... Ms. Heltzel made Azucena’s side of the story absolutely believable.  Acting this good, sometimes lacking in opera, elevated what was good singing on its own into a truly artistic portrayal."

-Robin Lowe, Opera Pulse, Mar 22, 2012

Acclaim for Suzuki in Madama Butterfly

"Sarah Heltzel was moving as the loyal Suzuki. She has a rich mezzo that offered a perfect contrast to the lyric soprano of DeAthos' Butterfly."

  1. -Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones, 30 Sept 2012 [Amarillo Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel’s mezzo is bronzy and her acting especially intuitive.”

- Leah Harrison,, Apr 26, 2012 [Syracuse Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel gave my favorite performance as Suzuki, Cio-Cio’s maid. Of the entire cast, Heltzel appeared most comfortable onstage”

- Sarah Desantis, The News House, Apr 23, 2012 [Syracuse Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel was a Suzuki with a spine, wise to the drama being played out but powerless to stop it... Both McKern and Heltzel also sang well. He and Heltzel were splendid as two-thirds of the trio early in Act 3 when they acknowledge the catastrophe that is about to overwhelm Butterfly.”

-David Rubin, CNY Café Momus Apr 22, 2o12 [Syracuse Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel’s confident mezzo-soprano was an asset as she interpreted Suzuki.”

- Linda Loomis, Syracuse Post-Standard, Apr 21, 2012 [Syracuse Opera]

“Mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel made her Indianapolis Opera debut as Suzuki, Butterfly's servant. These three singers—Lim, Mattsey and Heltzel—vocally dominated the production.”

– Tom Aldridge,, Sept 27, 2011

“Contributing to the quality of this production were the high-caliber performances of baritone Jeffrey Mattsey as U.S. Consul Sharpless and mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel as Butterfly’s maid, Suzuki. Both showed presence in their supporting roles.”

-Tom Alvarez,, Oct 1, 2011 [Indianapolis Opera]

Feature: Puccini’s Suzuki, Sometimes Silence Can Be Eloquent

- George Walker, Indiana Public Media, Sept 19, 2011

Acclaim for Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos

“Sarah Heltzel, the Composer, has a gorgeous instrument and was a believably angst-ridden young man.”

- Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan 27, 2012

“As the Composer, mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel sang with fire and allure.”

- Mike Silverman, Associated Press, August 11, 2011

“Sarah Heltzel was utterly compelling as the Composer... The blind devotion to music as an art form that she injected into the character made the themes of the opera... more tangible.”

  1. -Gregory Moomjy, Opera Today, August 14,2011

Acclaim for Desideria in The Saint of Bleecker Street, Dicapo Opera Theater

“Sarah Heltzel, vocally striking and visually appealing, walked away with the second act as Desideria, Michele’s vindictive, doomed lover.”

  1. -Steve Smith, New York Times, Feb 25, 2011

“Sarah Heltzel’s handsome stature and rather angular singing gave Desideria’s impassioned desperation the profile it requires.”

  1. -David Shengold, Opera News (online), June 2011

“Also strong was Sarah Heltzel as Desideria, whose sultry mezzo stood up handily to Michele’s ill temper.”

- George Loomis, “’Bleecker Street’ Revisited,”, February 28, 2011

“…his lover Desideria (vibrant mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel)”

- Bruce-Michael Gelbert,  [Q]onStage, February 2011

“Sarah Heltzel’s singing and acting captured a credible, grandly temperamental jealousy as Michele’s jilted girlfriend. Her powerful entrance in Act Two was a highlight. In Desideria’s Act Two aria… Heltzel’s mighty, attractive voice admirably amplified her feelings of the moment.”

- Victor Wheeler,

Acclaim for Various Performances

“With her powerful and dramatic voice and strong stage presence Heltzel skillfully managed to capture the audience.”

  1. -The Daily Herald (St Maarten), January 14, 2012

“…Heltzel’s grounded and rich mezzo-soprano, almost contralto, sound.”

- Sudeep Agarwala, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, May 16, 2011 [Verdi’s Requiem with Back Bay Chorale]

“Mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel made a commanding, sinister Mortician and Doctor in the evening’s first two operas.”

- Dana Astman, “edgar allan nouveau,” Parterre Box, November 3, 2010 [for The Poe Project, American Lyric Theater]

“A special mention should be made of former Seattle Opera Young Artist Sarah Heltzel who played Flora as well as she can be played.  It does not hurt that Ms. Heltzel is a beautiful, vivacious redhead, just about a perfect casting choice. She sang well, partied well and, when Violetta needed a friend, was convincingly concerned and comforting.”

- Joel Grant, Classical Voice (, November 9, 2009 [Seattle Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel was a remarkably good Flora”

- Melinda Bargreen, Classical King FM,, October 17, 2009 [Seattle Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel and Annie Pennies sang their roles with alluring mischievousness”

- Allan Kozinn, “Mythology Inc.: Carthage on Wall Street,” New York Times, Dec 5, 2008 [for Spirit & Witch, The Dido Project]

“mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel and bass-baritone Charles Robert Austin were both strong and sensitive”

- Bernard Jacobson, “Seattle Symphony’s Spirited Messiah,” Seattle Times, December 19, 2008

Acclaim for the Marquise de Merteuil in The Dangerous Liaisons

“Most impressive were the admirable villains, mezzo Sarah Heltzel and baritone Michael Chioldi, producing singing which sensitively embraced their acting.”

- Clive Barnes, “The Villians are its High Note,” New York Post, February 29, 2008

“Not that the company doesn't perform with great dedication and virtuosity, with Heltzel's de Merteuil (she has a plummy, nuanced mezzo) [a] standout… the diction is so clear that the supertitles are superfluous.”

- Mark Miller, Backstage, February 22, 2008

“Sarah Heltzel had the emotional range for the part of the Marquise de Merteuil”

- Bernard Holland, New York Times, Feb 23, 2008

“The central pair were aptly sexy and stageworthy. Sarah Heltzel sang with clarity and force”

- David Shengold, The Gay City News, March 13, 2008

Acclaim for various performances

“On hand was an unusually personality-rich quartet of vocalists… Janácek uses his mezzo and bass sparingly — a pity, since I wanted to savor more of Sarah Heltzel's amber tone”

- Thomas May,, June 14, 2007  [Alto soloist, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Seattle Symphony]

"The soloists, well known to Seattle Opera audiences, were chosen with care for their ability to handle vocal lines that always seem to be written for some other instrument than the voice. They are asked to sing at the extremes of their registers, frequently against the entire orchestra and chorale in full cry. Fortunately, the four soloists (Christine Goerke, Sarah Heltzel, Gary Lakes and Patrick Carfizzi) prevailed... Heltzel made a good impression in brief, low-lying solo segments." ”

- Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times, June 11, 2007  [Alto soloist, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Seattle Symphony]

“Sarah Heltzel was extremely sexy in the role. Her performance was… spicy and tantalizing. She made it very believable that men were falling in love with her left and right… She has the makings of a very strong and lengthy career ahead of her.”

- Conrad Askland,, October 7, 2006 [for Carmen at Skagit Opera]

“notable contributions included… Sarah Heltzel’s admirably firm Monitor.”

- David Shengold, Opera News, October 2006 [Suor Angelica, Chautauqua Opera]

This “Walküre” is fortunate in its cast of Valkyries (Holly Hall, Caroline Thomas, Stacey Rishoi, Luretta Bybee, Marie Plette, Sarah Heltzel, Fredrika Brillembourg, and Jennifer Hines), an uproarious bunch whose singing and acting are both stellar. The scene in which they take their farewell from the exiled Brünnhilde is surprisingly affecting; Brünnhilde may not have been the only one in the house who was wiping away tears.”

-  Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times, August 10, 2005 [Seattle Opera]

“Sarah Heltzel was perfectly polished and vivacious as the page Cherubino”

- Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly, April 6-12, 2005 [Seattle Opera Young Artist Program]

“Sarah Heltzel was a delightful and suitably mercurial Cherubino”

- Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times , April 5, 2005 [Seattle Opera Young Artist Program]

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Few performances of Don Carlo can boast of an Eboli who can manage both of her solo scenes with comparable excellence, but Wichita Grand Opera defied the trend by casting mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel as the vengeful but ultimately repentant Princess. Whether toying with Rodrigo, luring Carlo into an assignation, or confessing her treachery to Elisabetta, Heltzel's Eboli maintained a fiery presence that placed her at the center of the drama. WGO's production downplayed Eboli's rôle as the king's mistress, but Heltzel's alert acting made the character's hypocrisy unmistakable... Heltzel depicted an Eboli who was dramatically present even when physically absent… Heltzel unleashed the potent fury of a spurned woman in the heart-stopping trio with Carlo and Rodrigo, her ‘Al mio furor sfuggite invano’ flowing over the stage like lava. The depth of emotion that Heltzel conveyed when Eboli discovered that her jealousy has exacted such a cruel toll on Elisabetta gave unusual credence to the high-strung Princess's remorse. Heltzel's singing of 'O don fatale, o don crudel,' the climactic top C♭ and B♭ produced with unperturbed élan, was justifiably acclaimed by the audience. Portraying Eboli's hauteur is not difficult, but doing so whilst singing some of the most challenging music that Verdi composed for the mezzo-soprano voice is anything but easy. Heltzel managed to both sing and act Eboli brilliantly. For that alone, WGO's Don Carlo was memorable. - Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts, 30 Sept 2015

Acclaim for Principess d’Eboli in Don Carlo

© sarah heltzel 2014

photo by Arielle Doneson