"La Bohème" - Calgary Opera 2019
Calgary Opera's production of Puccini's imperishable La Boheme: "Among the several debuts with the company in this production was conductor Jonathan Brandani, who led the CPO in a strongly characterized account of the rich orchestral accompaniment. [...] It was evident from the outset that Brandani knows the score well and has clear ideas about what he would like from the orchestra and the singers. Obviously competent and strong as a leader, he revealed a distinctive personality and affinity for this music. I hope he will return soon." Calgary Herald, 11/11/2019
Khalil "pristine", Barrett "exquisite" in whimsical production of La Bohème: "Conducted by Jonathan Brandani, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra played impressively, although at the beginning, I thought they overshadowed the principals slightly. In Act II, Brandani’s sprightly tempi were delivered with the same joie de vivre as the characters onstage [...]. In all, Brandani brings out some of the orchestra’s best performance in recent history, with one of the most recognizable opera scores ever written." Schmopera, 11/12/2019
"The Italian Straw Hat" - Minnesota Opera 2019
Minnesota Opera Italian Straw Hat: "Cigni’s direction was undoubtedly tight, however, and he found a willing counterpart in the zippy, flexible conducting of Jonathan Brandani. Brandani drew peppery, athletic playing from an on-form orchestra and relished the score’s numerous sly references to Rossini, Verdi, Mozart and Puccini." Star Tribune, 1/28/2019
"Il Bravo" - Wexford Festival Opera 2018
A Wexford round up: "Conductor Jonathan Brandani whipped up musical storms and strife in the pit, drawing great energy from Mercadante’s striking harmonies and rich instrumental colours, but he also respected Mercadante’s more innovative and translucent orchestrations. All in all, the dramatic muddle was more than outweighed by the splendid musical drama." Opera Today, 11/24/2018
Wexford Festival Opera 2018 Review Il Bravo: "Under the conducting of Jonathan Brandani, the Orchestra of Wexford Festival Opera produced an engrossing reading, in which the score’s rich textures and subtle expressivity were fully explored. This made the opera as a whole, a memorable musical experience. Brandani held the orchestra, chorus and soloists together in a wonderfully balanced performance, allowing Mercadante’s music the space to convince." Opera Wire, 11/29/2018
A Wexford round up: "The final offering, Mercadante’s Il bravo (The Assassin), was almost certainly the most convincing operatic music heard this year, conducted with evangelical zeal by Jonathan Brandani." The Sunday Times, 11/28/2018
Il Bravo review at National Opera House, Wexford – ‘an exciting rediscovery’: "Jonathan Brandani conducts purposefully, drawing full-throated singing from the chorus and vigorous playing from the orchestra." The Stage, 11/22/2018
OPERA JOURNAL - Oct 28, 2018
Mercadante - Il Bravo (Wexford, 2018): "Under Jonathan Brandani's musical direction however, the singers soon warm up and the momentum of the work itself seems to carry them thrillingly along. Brandani does well to reign them in and manage the powerful dynamic that is impassioned but controlled and alive to the drama." Opera Journal, 11/28/2018
Wexford retrospect: "The third evening was a real rarity Mercadante's Il bravo. It is full of splendid music and was superbly conducted by Jonathan Brandani. The Wexford Orchestra is an outstanding group of players and he got energetic idiomatic and precision playing from them. Bravo indeed!"
Brian Dickie, former artistic director of Wexford Festival Opera
and former General Director of Chicago Opera Theatre, 11/27/2018
Sublime music compensates for a weak libretto: Wexford revives Mercadante’s Il Bravo: "If the singing didn’t always excite and there was a perceived lack of attention to detail to some aspects of the production the orchestra’s performance of this beautiful score (conducted by Jonathan Brandani), greatly compensated. This was, by far, the best of the operas presented this year on the main stage."
Abstruse Handlung mit spektakülarer Musik: "Jonathan Brandani dives passionately with the Wexford Festival Orchestra into Mercadante’s wonderful soundscapes and emphasizes once more that this composer should have gained a permanent place in the standard repertoire."
Online Musik Magazine, 11/28/2018
Ekaterina Bakanova excels in Wexford’s staging of Mercadante’s Il Bravo: "Jonathan Brandani kept a tight rein on cast, chorus and orchestra as the evening progressed. He allowed us to savour Mercadante’s wonderful instrumental colours while ensuring a good balance between the soloists and orchestra."
Seen and Heard International, 11/25/2018
Mercadante’s Il Bravo from the Wexford Festival: "Jonathan Brandani led an impassioned and fast reading of the score. I saw this opera many years ago at the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, Italy, and I recall more lyricism, but the excitement in Brandini’s reading was undeniable."
The Donizetti Society, 11/24/2018
L’opéra romantique comme on le rêve: "In a work that never stops panting in a very rushed pace (Mercadante reminds of daddy Rossini) the musical direction of Jonathan Brandani keeps the ensemble without never losing the tension: the precise indications, the clarity of his reading, the total absence of inaccuracies of any type in an orchestra which plays well are his most notable qualities; but he also is capable of holding back the sound and of alternating explosive moments with more lyrical and suspended ones. It is a musical direction which fully gives justice to a work which under this baton reveals some very seducing moments. All of this shows how unjust is the oblivion in which Mercadante has fallen into."
Emotionale Impulse vom Dirigenten Brandani: "Such an intensively dramatic Opera like ‘Il Bravo’ needs without doubt a conductor that fully supports the score and that is able to show to advantage all the musical effects in their full expressivity. The Italian-born Jonathan Brandani succeeded in the best of
possible ways. A special praise for the marvelous duet of mother and daughter in the
final Act, which he brought to life in a gentle and divinely beautiful way." Kieler Nachrichten, 10/22/2018
Le Bravo ou La Vénitienne, melodramma de Saverio Mercadante: "The conductor Jonathan Brandani delivers seducing contrasts in the music and brings into relief some moments of frankly marked acceleration, but without brutality. He holds together the architecture of the score, particularly the great and long ensembles which conclude every act. The choruses are not numerous, but they succeed in producing a homogeneous sound, showing a constant attention to the indications and to the nuances requested by the conductor." Anaclase la musique au jour le jour, 11/2/2018
Das Herz des Opiumschiebers: "On the contrary, in Saverio Mercadante’s Il Bravo the musical ideas come fast and furious, and are brought to life with fire by Jonathan Brandani and the orchestra. Those are the jewels, with which Wexford will make its audience happy." Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, 11/9/2018
Una ópera difícil, truculenta y olvidada de Mercadante: "The musical direction was in the hands of the Italian Jonathan Brandani, whom I was seeing for the first time. The impression is positive; he increased strength and energy in the last two acts. He accompanied well the singers."
Il Bravo von Mercadante beim Wexford Opera Festival: Düstere, musikalisch hochwertig umgesetzte Geschichte aus Venedig: "Under Jonathan Brandani the Wexford Opera Festival sounded vital and full of nuances of expression and dynamics." Opera Online, 10/30/2018
Wexford 2018 “yielded many an unexpected pleasure” while some elements “felt out of
place”: "Young Jonathan Brandani conducted with an invigorating sweep and flair. Six days later,
Il bravo made history as the festival’s first live-stream telecast." Opera Canada, 11/6/2018
"Medea in Corinto" - Teatro Nuovo 2018
"The most obvious change is a brand new period-instrument orchestra of nearly 50 players - a rare resource for US opera and a first here for opera of this era. The orchestra’s bold, vibrant playing, superbly attentive to music’s intricate wind writing, helps bring to sizzling life ‘Medea in Corinto’, [...] Jonathan Brandani, at the piano, and orchestra leader Jakob Lehmann persuasively share conducting responsibilities." Financial Times, 07/31/2018
‘The Dawn of Romantic Opera’ Review. Subtle, Playful Performances: "Launching Teatro Nuovo’s first season, a period-instrument ensemble brings color and articulation to "Medea in Corinto. [...] The most exciting - and entirely novel - aspect of the festival was the Teatro Nuovo Orchestra: a large period-instrument ensemble made up of natural brasses, early woodwinds, and gut-strung string instruments. The concertmaster, violinist Jakob Lehmann, led the orchestra, and the keyboard player [...] Jonathan Brandani gave cues to the singers. [...] The effect was transformative: these superb players brought to early 19th- century opera the kind of color and articulation that has become standard in Handel historical performance. Instead of bombast and sheen, we got subtlety and playfulness. The Wall Street Journal, 7/31/2018
"The operas were fascinating, the indoor acoustics superior, the performances musically impressive. The biggest plus was the nearly 50-strong period instrument orchestra. [...] Jonathan Brandani assumed the role of ‘maestro al cembalo’ in the Mayr. On the whole, orchestra precision was good and the playing of the brass instruments secure." Opera Magazine, October 2018
Teatro Nuovo's Bel Canto at SUNY Purchase - Thunderbolts Out of the Blue: "Jonathan Brandani was a fine maestro for the Medea. [...] overall you were fixed on the orchestra which felt like a chamber group. Instruments spoke to other instruments and related to the singers. The music was oddly, but engagingly interactive. Moving at a brisk pace, but with plenty of time to relish moments of sad and delicate beauty, these operas were a wonderful treat." Berkshire Fine Arts, 8/7/2018
"PURCHASE, New York—Not to slight the fine singing, but the thing most likely to strike firsttime visitors to Teatro Nuovo [...] is the newly formed periodinstrument orchestra of nearly 50 players. With it, Teatro Nuovo claims to become the first venture in the U.S. to present 19thcentury Italian opera on period instruments."
"The orchestra added considerable luster to last weekend’s performances of [...] Giovanni Simone Mayr’s Medea in Corinto.
"Here conducting responsibilities were divided between the 'maestro al cembalo' (keyboard maestro) and the 'primo violino e capo d’orchestra' (concertmaster). Crutchfield, at a period piano, functioned in the former capacity for Tancredi as did Jonathan Brandani for Medea, with Jakob Lehmann serving as concertmaster for both. [...] A fresh, assertive, vibrant sound was present as well [...]."
Musical America Worldwide
Medea at Teatro Nuovo: "Sunday's performance was a treat, both musically and theatrically. The performance was semi-staged, and there were many moments of gripping drama. [...]. The highly skilled Teatro Nuovo Orchestra played under Jonathan Brandani, maestro al cembalo [...]. The ensemble seemed to play so intuitively together that a conductor in the modern sense would have been superfluous. I never sensed a moment when the orchestra wasn't playing as one, and I never sensed a moment when orchestra and stage were not in sync." Taminophile, 7/30/2018
"Il Mondo della Luna" - Palau de les Arts, Valencia 2018
"The Italian-born Jonathan Brandani conducted with vigor, soundness and sensitivity. The orchestra was always excellent." Las Provincias , 3/10/2018
"Splendid performance of the orchestra. The conducting by Jonathan Brandani was very rich in details and full of energy." El Mundo, 3/13/2018
"The orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Brandani, was always attentive to the balance and the energy of the score. It was effective and offered a solid support for the voices on stage." Valencia Plaza, 3/12/2018
"Don Pasquale" - Minnesota Opera 2017
"Strong musical support was provided by conductor Jonathan Brandani leading an orchestra that sounded properly Italianate: light and airy, with a crisp tone and just the right amount of “crash and dash” from the percussion and brass. Instrumental ensemble was very tight, and one couldn’t have asked for better synchronization with the singers." Bachtrack
"Conductor Jonathan Brandani drew crisp, idiomatic playing from the orchestra, and kept the singers securely strapped in during the faster numbers." The Star Tribune
"Add on the exceptional work of conductor Jonathan Brandani and the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and, even if the staging concept doesn’t work for you, the music certainly should." Twin Cities Pioneer Press
"The pit orchestra is conducted by Jonathan Brandani. As with his earlier conducting for Tosca, Brandani displays a nuanced grasp of the genre, mining small moments and accents to highlight the humor infusing the score." Twin Cities Arts
"Jonathan Brandani conducted an orchestra of fifty musicians that played Donizetti's score beautifully, conveying the characters' states of romance, foolishness, exuberance and anger through the music."
"Tosca" - Minnesota Opera 2016
"Brandani led the orchestra with clarity, transparency of color and a fine balance." Post Bulletin
"Jonathan Brandani conducted the orchestra. The musicians performance was dynamic, precise, and faithful." Aisle Say Twin cities
"Don Pasquale" - Lucca Opera Festival 2014
“You won’t meet another conductor with such clear, purposeful indications as Jonathan Brandani. Moreover, he makes this music spark. And Brandani conveys this with his fine regard for the score’s details.“ Seen and Heard International