REVIEWS

Adès's Totentanz
Vienna Philharmonic, 2022

Only after the intermission does the evil germinate: The black clothes of mezzo Christianne Stotijn (Humans) and baritone Mark Stone (Death) mark the mood. The latter impresses with an excellent pronunciation of the German vocal text. / Erst nach der Pause keimt das Böse auf: Die schwarze Kleidung von Mezzo Christianne Stotijn (Menschen) und Bariton Mark Stone (Tod) markiert die Stimmung. Letzterer besticht mit einer exzellenten Aussprache des deutschen Gesangstexts. (Wiener Zeitung)

The powerful Mark Stone, equally terrifying through volume and pointed delivery, and the initially exaltedly writhing Christianne Stotijn, howling in glissandi, are the unequal opponents in the hopeless battle / Der kernige, durch Volumen und pointierten Vortrag gleichermaßen furchteinflößende Mark Stone und die sich zunächst exaltiert windende, in Glissandi heulende Christianne Stotijn sind die ungleichen Gegner im aussichtslosen Kampf. (Die Presse)

The climax, however, was still waiting, for Adès really hit the mark with the Totentanz setting. The theme is immediately touching and one is thrown somewhere into a tableau that feels as if it were right between Mahler's "Lied von der Erde" (in the farewell-death phase) and Bartók's "Bluebeard's Castle" (in the dialogue of death with a second person). But Adès finds his own dramaturgy and, above all, fantastic sound developments for the "unspeakable" that Death - in persona of the powerful baritone Mark Stone - serves us here. / Der Höhepunkt aber wartete ja noch, denn mit der Totentanz-Vertonung ist Adès tatsächlich ein Wurf gelungen. Die Thematik berührt unmittelbar und man ist irgendwo hineingeworfen in ein Tableau das sich anfühlt, als wäre es genau zwischen dem Mahlers „Lied von der Erde“ (in der Abschieds-Todes-Emphase) und Bartóks „Blaubarts Burg“ (im Dialog des Todes mit einer zweiten Person). Doch Adès findet eine eigene Dramaturgie und vor allem fantastische Klangentwicklungen für das „Unsägliche“, was der Tod – in persona des mächtigen Baritons Mark Stone – uns hier auftischt. (Mehrlicht)

Elgar's The Kingdom
Kraków Philharmonic, 2022

The Kingdom is St Peter's, and Stone delivered magnificently. There was everything in his baritone: saturation, timbral nuances, scale alignment, full control over every note, expressively articulated (yet natural-sounding) text. Out of the four of them, for audibility he was the only one we did not have to worry about for a moment. Despite the huge forte and excellent carrying capacity, he did not cross the boundary of good taste - and in Elgar's bizarre piece, which consists of pathetic climaxes preceded by short moments of respite, it would not have been difficult to do so. / The Kingdom partią św. Piotra stoi, a Stone wywiązał się z niej wspaniale. W jego barytonie było wszystko: nasycenie, niuanse barwowe, wyrównanie w skali, pełna kontrola nad każdym dźwiękiem, wyraziście artykułowany (a jednocześnie naturalnie brzmiący) tekst. Z całej czwórki tylko o jego słyszalność ani na moment nie trzeba było się martwić. Mimo ogromnych forte, doskonałej nośności, nie przekraczał granicy dobrego smaku – a w przedziwnym utworze Elgara, który składa się z patetycznych kulminacji poprzedzielanych krótkimi momentami wytchnienia, nie byłoby o to trudno. (Ruch Muzyczny)

Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly
Welsh National Opera, 2021

Mark Stone’s excellent Sharpless. (The Times)

The blue-suited Sharpless of Mark Stone, a well-projected Michael Portillo-like diplomat who aims to please everyone (The Telegraph)

Anna Harvey’s Suzuki and Mark Stone’s Sharpless are in the top league (The Stage)

Mark Stone's Sharpless was delivered with feeling, showing the consul's increasing crisis of conscience (Opera)

Mark Stone captured Sharpless’s unease perfectly (British Theatre Guide)

the ‘Consul’ Sharpless (the excellent Mark Stone) (Wales Arts Review)

Mark Stone’s Sharpless was admirable – well sung and acted, a convincing portrait of an honest and decent man, appalled by the behaviour and attitude of his compatriot Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton and genuinely respectful of the Japanese way of life. (Seen and Heard International)

Mark Stone manages to create a real character as the US consul (Critics Circle)

Mark Stone as Sharpless, compassionate and well suited to the role (Buzz)

Here we heard a tremendous cast, performing with such dignity of movement, and with such obvious support for every one of its members ... Mark Stone was a gratifyingly angry Consul Sharpless, pinning Pinkerton against the wall for the shame he was bringing upon the great US of A (Midlands Music Reviews)

Leonardo Caimi was a cocksure, slapdash Pinkerton; a deeply shallow man, impervious to the increasingly frantic appeals to basic decency of Mark Stone’s Sharpless. Stone’s plain-singing, head-in-hands sincerity, along with Tom Randle’s sleazy but plausible Goro, helped locate the production’s moral centre. (The Spectator)

There were outstanding performances in secondary roles too, especially from Mark Stone as a troubled Sharpless (Bachtrack)

Wotan in Wagner's Die Walküre
Hackney Empire, 2021

Best Opera Performance (Offies 2022)

Wotan's farewell duly stopped the heart. Mark Stone, Alberich in Longborough's 2019 Rheingold, was here singing the king of the gods for the first time, having suffered a cancelled debut in Trondheim [due to the Covid lockdown]. Vocally high-voltage, this pugnacious Wotan was clearly quite the operator, observing the Volsung twins' initial encounter from his eyrie and very much dominating proceedings before melting in the final scene. (Opera)

The cast is a strong one. Particularly outstanding is Mark Stone’s Wotan, who brings maximum tonal variety and animated articulation to his delivery: in his long narration he vibrantly relives the prior events of the theft of the gold and the forging of the ring. Laure Meloy’s Brünnhilde is impressively secure and the final scene for her and Wotan is deeply moving. (Evening Standard)

Wotan’s closing farewell to his favourite daughter duly stops the heart. Mark Stone, elsewhere a pugnacious, live-wire king of the gods, melts here while ringing the rafters at the climaxes. (The Stage)

Wotan is at the centre of Burbach’s vision. From a high platform, the god observes the events of what is traditionally Act 1 (the evening is split into two acts, the interval coming before Act 2 scene 3), almost willing Siegmund to draw Nothung (the sword here a metal bar) from the rigging. Mark Stone's baritone demonstrated plenty of heft, projecting Wotan’s rage viscerally. Up against Harriet Williams’ vitriolic Fricka, Stone’s Wotan seemed easily brow-beaten, utterly defeated from the off. Burbach really dug into the god’s relationship with his favourite valkyrie daughter, Brünnhilde, and his long narration detailing the backstory of Alberich’s ring – a snorefest in some productions – was magnetically delivered, the orchestra providing all the motifs to illustrate his narrative thread. Stone had plenty in reserve to deliver Wotan’s long farewell to his daughter powerfully. Laure Meloy’s feisty Brünnhilde was just as superb, her “hojotohos” ringing out rebelliously. But it was that relationship with Stone’s Wotan which was at the heart of this staging, questioning his decision-making, daring to challenge him. (Bachtrack)

 

Mark Stone as Wotan who gives an absorbing performance of a disintegrating King. (The Reviews Hub)

It's still a privilege to hear singing of this quality outside the big houses with their big prices - Mark Stone expressive as Wotan (Broadway World)

Mark Stone (Wotan) and Laura Meloy (Brunnhilde) balanced the frailty of emotions with the majesty of immortality. (Queer Guru)

Above all this is Wotan’s opera – a production stands or falls on the power and stamina of this performer. Here Mark Stone is outstanding. In a twenty-minute monologue that is the most remarkable piece of composition in the opera, he describes an arc between boastful swagger and complete despair and collapses into self-loathing that is completely compelling. He also has enough left in the tank at the end to pour out fatherly love to his daughter and reassert his authority in summoning the magic fire. It is rare to find such a complete account of the role from a singer fresh to the role. (Plays to See)

Mark Stone was a commanding presence even before he sang, and came to dominate the production (as his character does the plot) by the end of the evening. (Sardines)

Mark Stone made a very sympathetic Wotan, lyric in impulse but wonderfully firm of voice. Deluded and self-absorbed rather than trenchant and objectionable, there was a melancholy warmth to his performance and his account of his two great monologues was masterly. Wagner's habit of having characters recap what has already happened can have an intriguing element of Rashomon to it, but can also serve to hold up the drama. Here, Stone's retelling of what had already happened was the drama - flexible, word-based and gripping. Having a lyric voice singing the role with a smaller orchestra meant that in moments like Wotan's Farewell we got the sort of beauty of tone that is not always feasible in larger scale productions. (Planet Hugill)

There was no doubting Mark Stone’s overwhelming presence as Wotan. His singing had the requisite volume, and his acting caught the miseries of this completely compromised god. (Classical Source)

Towering over the show is Mark Stone's meltingly heartfelt Wotan, imperious, glorious in tone and yet finally a broken man. (Living London Large)

Ades's Totentanz
Deutsche Grammophone, 2020 

Nominated for Best Classical Compendium (Grammys)

Representing Death, Mark Stone’s imperious baritone quickly grabs our attention, while Christianne Stotijn’s flexible mezzo imaginatively portrays everyone else. Not short of its own musical echoes (Berg, Mahler), Totentanz has a virility and emotional resonance that suggests a work with a long life ahead. (The Times)

Baritone Mark Stone impersonates Death brilliantly. **** (The Daily Telegraph)

The orchestral song cycle Totentanz from 2013, a setting of texts from a 14th-century German frieze showing Death inviting everyone from a pope to a young child to dance with him, seems more original than ever – a series of vivid, sometimes grotesque scenes, with baritone Mark Stone in superb form as Death and mezzo Christianne Stotijn portraying his successive victims. (The Guardian)

 

The singing of Mark Stone and Christianne Stotijn is incredible, each fully meeting the demands of what must be particularly exhausting music to sing. (The Classic Review)

There is not much mercy on offer, either in the poem or from the infernal power of Adès’s orchestra. Mezzo Christianne Stotijn and baritone Mark Stone hold their own and are rewarded when the music sinks into a Mahlerian balm at the end. **** (Financial Times

 

The score – in which Mark Stone’s death lures Christianne Stotijn’s procession of 16 characters from pope to infant into the grave – has had something of a renaissance in the past few years, Adès conducting those soloists (as here) in performances around the world. But it can hardly have sounded as focused or as forensically brilliant as in Boston, with the same structural nous, sustained tension (tempos and volume are expertly ratcheted) and pronounced undertow. The latter comes surely from Adès’s understanding of his own use of cyclic structures, passacaglia and chord sequencing (a favourite one pops up in ‘Der Tod zum Kardinal’) but also from vivid characterisation and potent orchestral playing; the ferocity at the end of ‘Der Tod zum König’ is overwhelming. Christianne Stotijn dials down the lighting but not the intensity in ‘Der Küster’ and ‘Das Mädchen’, and even Mark Stone’s splendidly Mephistophelean Death offers her a warm hand in ‘Das Kind’, for which Adès invokes the ghost of a strophic song somewhere between Schubert and Mahler in lineage. (Gramophone)

Totentanz (Dance of Death) sets an anonymous fifteenth-century German text “from drinking song to the inevitably of death” and mirrors Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in its journey; two singers further aid such a comparison, here Mark Stone (baritone) & Christianne Stotijn (mezzo), both impressive. Totentanz is terrific, notable, gripping throughout its thirty-five-minute continuous span, intense and dramatic, singers, orchestra and listeners allowed no respite until a communicative and ethereal beauty settles on the score halfway through, if without quashing the already-evident passion until things become skeletal in texture and accepting in outlook; musically rapturous. Great to have Totentanz recorded. (Classical Source)

The vocal soloists Mark Stone and Christianne Stotijn present the poetically terrible text in the hall by means of hauntingly declamatory singing and cautionary intensity as if electrified. They need exemplary diction not least to be able to assert themselves over the onomatopoeic, gigantic, dense and powerful orchestra. “Oh woe, what will happen to me? Evil is destined for me. I was careless, thoughtless, and did my work badly. Must I pray to you, dear Lord, to forgive all my sins: oh lead me into eternal life!” the artisan ends the fifteenth appeal. Death assures the villainous artisan that his soul will have a hard time. The cycle really gets under your skin like a last judgment poured into sound. The BSO under the direction of the composer guarantees a luscious, luxuriant orchestral sound in an exciting, highly dramatic rendition. / Die Vokalsolisten Mark Stone und Christianne Stotijn stellen die poetisch schrecklichen Worte mittels eindringlich deklamatorischem Gesang und mahnender Intensität wie unter Starkstrom in den Raum. Die vorbildliche Diktion brauchen sie nicht zuletzt, um sich wiederum gegen das lautmalerisch eingesetzte, gigantisch dicht und mächtig aufspielende Orchester behaupten zu können. „Ach weh, was wird mit mir geschehen? Übles ist mir vorgesehen. Nachlässig war ich, unbedacht, und auch mein Handwerk schlecht gemacht. Muss ich dich beten, lieber Herr, all meine Sünden zu vergeben: o führe mich ins ew‘ge Leben!“ endet der Handwerker die fünfzehnte Beschwörung. Der Tod bescheinigt dem Schurken Handwerker, dass es die Seele schwer haben wird. Der Zyklus geht wie ein in Klang gegossenes Jüngstes Gericht wahrlich unter die Haut. Das BSO unter der Leitung des Komponisten ist Garant eines üppigen Orchesterluxusklangs und von spannungsvollen, hochdramatischen Wiedergaben. (Online Merker)

Alberich in Wagner's Das Rheingold
Longborough Festival Opera, 2019

The production was distinguished by singers of international quality. In the opening moments – when the dwarf Alberich comes lecherously across the Rhinemaidens – this becomes immediately obvious through the exceptional performance of baritone Mark Stone, who has a perfect voice for the part, and acting skills of the highest order. (The Daily Telegraph).

 

Some of the singing was absolutely first class, especially from Mark Stone, a revelation as Alberich (more Wagner from him please). (Mail on Sunday).

 

Darren Jeffrey is a physically imposing Wotan, outperformed by Mark Stone’s tremendous Alberich, in a performance worthy of any stage. (The Sunday Times).

Among the cast, Mark Le Brocq’s foppish, sardonic Loge and Mark Stone’s vocally authoritative Alberich stand out, managing to create stage personalities to match the strength of their musical ones. (The Guardian).

 

However, perhaps the most rounded portrayal was that of the Alberich of Mark Stone, who was outstanding vocally and visually, with his eyes frightening the audience as he cursed all with the loss of the ring. His portrayal with his deep baritonal quality is undoubtedly destined for a bigger stage. (Opera Spy).

Mark Stone, with his powerful baritone, arguably produces the strongest singing of the evening as Alberich. (Music OMH).

 

The singing is led by Mark Stone’s Alberich and Mark Le Brocq’s Loge. Both performances set a very high standard, Stone embracing Alberich’s dark soul with total conviction. (Classical Source).

Mark Stone … has moments of real vocal splendour. (The Arts Desk).

The roles are well cast, some portrayals more charismatic than others, and those which particularly caught my attention were Mark Stone's Alberich, twisted both physically and emotionally, Mark le Brocq's Loge, as louche as the MC in Cabaret, and Mae Heydorn's Erda, an arresting Arthur Rackham-ish vision. (Midlands Classical Music Making).

 

The standouts are Marc Le Brocq, vocally and visually on top form as a dandyish Loge, and Mark Stone, a scruffy but determined Alberich. (The Stage).

In a strong cast Mark Stone (Alberich), Mark Le Brocq (Loge) and Madeleine Shaw (Fricka) stood out. (The Article).

His curse on the ring was the highlight of Mark Stone’s roughhewn Alberich. (Seen and Heard).

 

More convincing was the nimble and dishevelled Mark Stone as Alberich, utterly persuasive in voice and single-minded ambition. (Opera Today).

The interpretation of Amy Lane puts the conflict between the god, Wotan, played by Darren Jeffery, and the Lord of the Nibelungs, Alberich (Mark Stone) at the core of the whole structure, especially clarified by their confrontations in the third and fourth scenes. Their acting and interpretation as character were as strong as their splendid vocal contributions. (Plays To See).

We have some particularly likeable baddies with Mark Stone’s mesmerising Alberich. (Arts Scene in Wales).

Gunther in Wagner's Götterdämmerung
Grand Théâtre de Genève, 2019

Mark Stone, the flawless baritone, is a Gunther whose stage presence and qualities of timbre and projection express more the nobility of the character than a malice that is hard to believe – and who manages to be heard in the end of Act II. / Mark Stone, impeccable baryton, est un Gunther dont la présence scénique et les qualités de timbre et de projection expriment davantage la noblesse du personnage qu’une veulerie à laquelle on a du §mal à croire – et qui réussit à se faire entendre à la fin de l’acte II. (Forum Opera).

 

The baritone Mark Stone was a fantastic Gunther, with a solid instrument and a wonderful stage delivery. / El barítono Mark Stone fue un fantástico Gunther, con un sólido instrumento y una entrega escénica maravillosa. (Opera Actual).

Finally, let us salute the superb Gunther by Mark Stone who offers a beautiful baritone voice to his character. In the final trio of the second act, the evocation of revenge, associated with the roar of the brass, is admirable. / Saluons enfin le superbe Gunther de Mark Stone qui offer une très belle voix de baryton à son personnage Lors du trio final du deuxième acte, l’evocation de la vengeance, associée au grondement des cuivres, est admirable. (Bachtrack).

 

At this high level of singing only Mark Stone can keep up as Gunther. His powerful, dazzling baritone contrasts with the almost feeble character that he plays. / Auf diesem hohen Niveau des Gesangs kann nur noch Mark Stone als Gunther mithalten. Sein kraftvoller, blendend geführter Bariton steht im Widerspruch zu der fast schwächlichen Person, die er verkörpert. (O-Ton)

The baritone Mark Stone plays a solid and strongly musical Gunther. / Le baryton Mark Stone campe un Gunther solide et fort musical (Olyrix).

 

Mark Stone as Gunther, Tom Fox as Alberich and Jeremy Milner as the dark Hagen are excellent. / Mark Stone als Gunther, Tom Fox als Alberich und Jeremy Milner als finsterer Hagen sind exzellent. (Online Merker).

Elsewhere, and with a few exceptions, we must salute the precise characterization of each character, albeit secondary. From the Nornes to the Ondines, from Gutrune to Gunther (excellent Agneta Eichenholz and Mark Stone), this Ring is also distinguished by the details. / Ailleurs, et à quelques exceptions près, il faut saluer la caractérisation précise de chaque personnage, fût-il secondaire. Des Nornes aux Ondines, de Gutrune à Gunther (excellents Agneta Eichenholz et Mark Stone), ce Ring se distingue aussi par les détails. (Tribune de Genève).

Mark Stone and Agneta Eichenholtz easily carry off Gunther and Gutrune. / Mark Stone et Agneta Eichenholtz emportent sans peine l'adhésion en Gunther et Gutrune. (Le Courrier).

 

The British baritone Mark Stone embodies a Gunther more haughty than spineless, with a strong and well-projected voice. / La baryton britannique Mark Stone incarne un Gunther plus altier que veule, à la voix solide et bien projetée. (Opera Online).

Mark Stone's Gunther acquires the tragic stature of the victim of fate. / Le Gunther de Mark Stone acquiert la stature tragique de la victime du sort. (Crescendo).