Matthew Sprizzo

Artists 2023-2024

Title role of Monteverdi's Orfeo with Pacific Musicworks, October 2017:

"Although all of the singers admirably and expressively carried the performance forward, it was tenor Colin Balzer as Orfeo who shone as the core of the story.  He used no score and his face and voice expressed joy, longing, desperation, anguish, sorrow in a way that could tear the heart out of your breast."


"To their great credit, Dark Horse and MusicWorks tackle the "ornamented" score. All the performers bravely rise to the occasion, especially Vancouver-born tenor Colin Balzer in the title role. His rendering of the showpiece Act III aria Possente Spirto sparkles, not only with its tonal acrobatics but also with its expressive theatricality.  All the more striking as it’s achieved with pure voice and gesture. "

                                                                                                                                                              -Vancouver Observer

"The key to this performance was the ability of the artists to communicate all the contrasts and nuances of the score, while demonstrating a keen understanding of its dramatic arc.  In the role of the semi-divine musician Orpheus, Colin Balzer commanded a wide emotional range, from jubilation in Act 1 to numb horror at the end of Act 2, and from a fleeting yet triumphant joy in Act 4 to the blackest despair in Act 5.  Monteverdi’s demigod is a man enslaved by his passions, and his failure to exercise prudence – one of the cardinal virtues of Renaissance humanism – is the primary cause of his downfall.  Balzer clearly relished the highs and lows of the character: his rendering of the Act 2 canzonetta Vi ricorda o boschi ombrosi had an infectious dancelike buoyancy, while the great centerpiece of Act 3 – Orpheus’s plea to Charon, Possente spirto, e formidabil nume – was filled with pathos and tragic grandeur, aided by the singer’s tasteful and intelligent ornamentation."

                                                                                                                                                             -Vancouver Classical

Boston Early Music Festival concert in Vancouver, September 2017

"It would be difficult to find better vocalists than the four who participated: all have estimable reputations in historical performance. Most familiar are soprano Amanda Forsythe, who has previously captivated in Handel (she led off last season with great flair) and Colin Balzer, a wonderfully-accomplished tenor who has the distinction of being born in Vancouver....Of the first half offerings, I particularly enjoyed the combination of Forsythe and tenor Colin Balzer in ‘E perché non m’uccidete’. The tenor has such a lovely warm lyricism in his expression and his phrasing has so much natural poise and seating. His singing meshed beautifully with the greater sharpness and dramatic sense of Forsythe...Colin Balzer again brought great strength and feeling to two of the remaining three duets of the second half. His ‘Occhi belli’ with Emőke Baráth was notable for its shadings and dynamics, with the soprano really showing off her unique flexibility and tone. Balzer’s warmth and dramatic line made this an exciting combination, and the more pensive feelings at the end came out with gravity. Possibly even more beguiling was ‘Gelosia’, where the tenor’s sensitive articulation and lyrical reach came together with Forsythe’s sharply-etched projection to draw out a touching sense of yearning. There was remarkable clarity and balance in this singing...This was a unique concert."

                                                                                                                                                                  -Seen and Heard International

Boston Early Music Festival concert in Boston's Jordan Hall, October 2017

"Tenor Colin Balzer was paired with Emöke Baráth in Steffani’s “E perché non m’uccidete” (So why do you not kill me).  The text, by Brigida Bianchi, an actress and singer at the Comédie Italienne in Paris, evoques the imagery of wounding eyes. In the long opening stanza Balzer’s use of expressive vibrato in his first entry was particularly effective, as were the dramatic high entries for both voices in the first of two contrasting middle stanzas. The two singers rivalled one another in rapid succession, culminating in a bit of word painting as the eyes were compared to “comets of doom.”  A lover’s cruel eyes were again the focus of “Occhi belli” (Lovely eyes) sung by Forsythe and Balzer. Enfolded between opening and closing duets, two solo sections — one for soprano, the other for tenor — required adroit shifts in meter and key in a series of mini-arias. ”Su, ferisci, alato arciero” (Come on, shoot, winged archer), sung by Baráth and Forsythe, adopted a “furioso” mode in a virtuosic contest that mocked the paradox of the painful wounds and sweet delight conveyed by a glance.  The text of “Gelosia” (Jealousy) is by the Marquis Bartolomeo D’Ariberti, who served as the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm’s special envoy in Madrid in 1698. With the continuo reinforced by Baroque harp, the first and last movements matched Amanda Forsythe and Colin Balzer in melting imitative arias. The intervening stanzas showed off the singers’ expressive eloquence in two dramatic accompanied recitatives, each punctuated by a lyric flourish, arioso style, that highlighted such crucial words as “inganni” (deceits) and “veleno” (poison)."

                                                                                                                                                                   -​The Boston Musical-Intelligencer

Title role of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria at the Boston Early Music Festival
"The longtime B.E.M.F. participant Colin Balzer anchored the evening as a superbly drawn Ulisse; the Canadian tenor's range and artistry brought to mind Christoph Prégardien in this great role...[as Eumete Jason McStoots’s] scenes with Balzer [were] among the show's emotional highlights."
                                                                                                                                                                      -David Shengold, Opera (London)

“In the next scene, Ulisse awakened from a deep sleep to find himself on a lonely shore on the island of Ithaca, wondering where he was. His impassioned monologue, paralleling Penelope’s lament in the first scene, was beautifully sung by Colin Balzer.” 
                                                                                                                                                                      -The Boston Musical-Intelligencer
“And as Ulisse, Colin Balzer handsomely conveyed the full range of emotion, from the weariness and humility imposed on him by fate to the unalloyed joy experienced on his return.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                           -The Boston Globe
“Colin Balzer, a tenor, proves a sturdy Ulysses…In one of many role doublings, Mr. Balzer also sings Human Frailty, an allegorical figure Monteverdi seems to identify with Ulysses. 

Youthful powers are richly displayed not only in Orfeo (1607) but also in the magnificent 1610 Vespers, which Mr. Stubbs led here in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory… 

the performances of both vocal soloists and instrumentalists were wonderful, especially those of the tenors Mr. Balzer and Zachary Wilder…” 
                                                                                                                                                                                      -The New York Times 
Monteverdi 1610 Vespers:
"Colin Balzer was a warm, seductive zephyr welcoming the return of flowers to the land in “Nigra sum."
                                                                                                                                                                                          -The Boston Globe 
Boston Early Music Festival recording of Steffani's Niobe:
"As Tiberino, Canadian tenor Colin Balzer sings powerfully, his flexible voice and complete security in the lower octave of the part contributing to a vivid portrayal that radiates strength and sensuality. He sings Tiberino’s Act One aria Alba essulti, e il Lazio goda with insurmountable technical acumen, and the subsequent arias Tu non sai che sia diletto and Quanto sospirerai inspire him to singing of stirring immediacy.  Il tuo sguardo o bella mia and Ci sei colto mio cor in Act Two are delivered with similar impact, the unstilted refinement of his elocution all the more impressive because of the magnetism of the timbre.  In Act Three, Mr. Balzer voices the aria Hor ch'è mio quel vago labro with delicious sophistication. His burnished, burly tone distinguishes him from his male colleagues in this performance, and the adroitness of his singing identifies him as one of the most gifted exponents of repertory of Niobe’s vintage."
                                                                                                                                                                                               -Voix des Arts 
Return to Tafelmusik for Messiah:
"The two strongest were Canadian tenor Colin Balzer, and baritone Brett Polegato.  Balzer sang with a confident stance..."
                                                                                                                                                                                            -The Toronto Star
"...Colin Balzer anchored the evening with his solid performances."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -The Toronto Globe & Mail
Händel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno with Early Music Vancouver:
"...the rest of the story is the vocalists, and they were absolutely excellent.  The voices were so nicely differentiated, though each could move out to similar displays of athletic virtuosity when called for…Tenor Colin Balzer, as Time, naturally cut a much stronger figure, balancing eloquence with a declamatory tone in very fine style, finding considerable space and strength in his presentations."     
                                                                                                                                                                                 -Vancouver Classical Music

"The more lasting but more difficult rewards of accepting the passage of Time and of facing the truth are not given short shrift.  Tempo (Colin Balzer) has an array of persuasions ranging from the heart-dropping Gothic Urne voi and the restless Nasce l’uomo through the stormy  Folle, dunque.  Balzer was frightening, irascible and persuasive by turns, but with a constant rich beauty of tone."

"Oltman assembled a lineup of outstanding soloists of international reputation...  Aria soloists were equally good, with tenor Balzer and bass Lichti performing with great skill and intelligence...  At the end of the Passion, conductor and the soloists were called to the stage three times to receive the thunderous accolades."                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                              -The Cleveland Plain-Dealer
Messiah with the Calgary Philharmonic:
"As a total performance I greatly enjoyed the singing of tenor Colin Balzer, whose voice is especially suited to this music and projects well into a large hall. The opening Comfort Ye was superb, as was the aria But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul in Hell.”
                                                                                                                                                                                         -The Calgary Herald
Dowland concert/Early Music Vancouver:
"Friday's concert opened with two of the most exquisite songs, Me, me and none but me, sung and played by all the members of Les Voix Baroques, followed by Go crystall teares, the first verse a solo by Colin Balzer in an acute, crystalline reading with a dying fall worthy of any lovesick Orsino."  
                                                                                                                                                                                           -Review Vancouver
Recording of Danzi's Der Berggeist:
"Canadian tenor Colin Balzer brings the right firm tone and agility to create a most affecting Rübezahl..."
                                                                                                                                                                                                -Opera Canada
Boston Early Music Festival performances of Händel’s first opera, Almira:
““Tenor Colin Balzer brought vocal beauty, a nicely varied tonal palette and a wide dramatic range to his role as the wronged, then redeemed Ferrando.”
                                                                                                                                                                       -The Boston Musical-Intelligencer
with Pacific MusicWorks:
“With music director Stephen Stubbs conducting, mostly from the lutenist’s chair, the quartet of soprano Yulia Van Doren, alto Laura Pudwell, tenor Colin Balzer and baritone Jesse Blumberg filled the air with auditory wonder…”
                                                                                                                                                                                           -The Seattle Times
Bach Cantatas with Early Music Vancouver:
"All this year’s complement of singers had their virtues, but each year I feel more and more impressed by tenor Colin Balzer; he’s wonderful in arias and ensembles, but it’s his recitatives that mark him as a committed, expressive Bach singer.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -The Vancouver Sun
Messiah with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Paul Goodwin:
“…an excellent quartet of soloists.  Tenor Colin Balzer led off with beautiful accounts of Comfort Ye and Every Valley, sure of voice, diction and detail.  His various contributions to Part Two were especially also pleasing.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -The Ottawa Citizen
Handel's Acis and Galatea/ Mozart Weeks Festival in Salzburg:
"Balzer has become a regular with Minkowski now...And with Minkowski taking the mantle of Artistic Director of the festival, we can only expect more from this talented Canadian tenor with a blossoming European career.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -Opera Canada
Steffani's Niobe at the Boston Early Music Festival:
"The other reasons to see this show include the stellar tenor Colin Balzer, who inhabited the role of Tiberino (a member of the rustic sub-plot that exists in every baroque opera) with complete dramatic poise and conviction, as well as glowing vocal color.  One wished he had a larger role, but hopefully he will return to BEMF in a more featured capacity."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

reprinted in its entirety from David Shengold's review appearing in Opera News Online:
Colin Balzer & Erika Switzer
NEW YORK CITY The Frick Collection 
"The Frick Collection, one of New York's jewels among museums, has a concert series in a splendid, intimate music room. Its printed history is rich with the great names of piano and string players of the past seventy-five years; singers tend to appear once or twice a season, and here too the selection has been cultivated and knowing–from Mack Harrell (1956) and Frederica von Stade (1974) through Sergei Leiferkus, Susan Platts and Gerald Finley in recent years.  On December 12 the Frick hosted an excellent recital by Colin Balzer, a Canadian light-lyric tenor based in Germany. One hopes his local recital debut presages appearances at the other venues still booking vocal recitals; the 92nd Street Y, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium and Town Hall, three of the best rooms in town, have neglected this art form shamefully of late.
Balzer surely does not aspire to Werther or Calàf; his ingratiating, well-knit sound, with baritonal warmth when needed but an airy, floating top reminiscent of Anthony Rolfe Johnson, has been deployed to fine effect in the Boston Early Music Festival's operatic offerings, and he has sung Ottavio and Idomeneo at major European venues.   Bach figures heavily in his schedule.   He didn't venture above a high A in this outing.   But what superb singing, and what a fine, natural interpreter! Pitch and breath control never seem to be at issue, and his attack at all dynamic levels was precise and apt.   Partnered by the excellent, sonorous pianist Erika Switzer, he phrased with great distinction in a program encompassing five Haydn English settings, five relatively unhackneyed Schubert Lieder and a second half devoted to Britten–the Hardy-based cycle Winter Words and five folksong settings. The melismatic passages Britten crafted for Peter Pears demonstrated Balzer's easy agility.
Adept at mimicry and subtle facial play, Balzer set a dramatic mood from the start of his opener, Haydn's melancholy "Spirit's Song," and embodied without histrionics or exaggeration many personae throughout the concert.  He could rise to the odd Gothic tragedy of Schubert's "Der Zwerg" and the philosophical challenges posed by Hardy without distorting his tonal clarity.  Balzer also offers excellent, expressive diction in both English and German and that elusive but essential feature for the folk songs, charm.  Winter Words, a profound and intriguing composition of great feeling, was superbly done by both artists.   A very demonstrative reception at the end brought forth two encores--Copland's "Bought me a cat" (Balzer's honk and neigh were particularly noteworthy) and a ravishing reading of Holst's Christmas carol "In the bleak midwinter."   More, please!
Don Giovanni at the Aix-en-Provence Festival under Louis Langrée:
"Canadian tenor COLIN BALZER provides a finely tuned performance as a bespectacled, bourgeois Don Ottavio..."   
                                                                                                                                                                                               -France Today 

"Canadian tenor Colin Balzer also portrayed an unconventional Don Ottavio, not the archetypical bore but rather a complex and torn character with endless nuance, expressed by Balzer with unerring style and great beauty of tone."
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Opera Canada

"This particular assortment of {Bach} cantatas favoured tenor Balzer, who can sing Bach's often attenuated lines with a lithe, seemingly effortless lightness, then ratchet up the drama for recitatives or quasi-operatic arias like the tempestuous 'Stuermt nur, stuermt' from the intimately scaled Cantata BWV 153."
                                                                                                                                                                                       -The Vancouver Sun
Messiah with the Calgary Philharmonic:
"Colin Balzer was elegance itself in his tenor solos, his singing sophisticated and beautifully shaped in his treatment of the phrases."  
                                                                                                                                                                                        -The Calgary Herald 
Haydn's Die Schoepfung with Yoav Talmi and the Québec Symphony:
"Among the soloists, I especially loved Colin Balzer for, among other things, his presence and the heart he brings to every phrase.  His was of singing was exemplary, his velvety voice full of poetry."     
Bach's B Minor Mass with Yoav Talmi and the Quebéc Symphony:
"The tenor Colin Balzer, whose voice seems to grow richer and lovelier, was the standout.  His Benedictus with flute and cello accompaniment, was magnificently delectable chamber music worth the trip."   
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Le Soleil
Debut on the distinguished Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series:
“A splendid recital...he produces a sound evoking modern deities Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Richard Croft--clear, floaty, but with a solid baritonal underpinning.  His technique permits long lines, seemingly perfect intonation, and--as the melismatic passages in the Britten portion of the evening demonstrated--wonderful agility.  A first half alternating Haydn and unhackneyed Schubet songs showed excellent, expressive diction in both English and German and cultivated style, plus a kind of 30-something boy-next-door charm...One could have heard a pin drop--until the prologned ovations.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                -Gay City News ​

colin balzer Biography

colin balzer Press

With assured musicality and the varied tonal palette of a lieder specialist, Canadian lyric Colin Balzer's North American engagements to date include recitals at New York's Frick Collection and on the Philadelphia Chamber Music series; concerts with the Portland, New Jersey, Utah, Victoria, Ann Arbor, Québec,  Atlanta and Indianapolis Symphonies; Early Music Vancouver; Toronto's Tafelmusik and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir; Les Violons du Roy; the National and Calgary Philharmonics; Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra; Musica Sacra and the Oratorio Society of New York (both under Kent Tritle) at New York's Carnegie Hall.  In addition he is regularly featured in opera productions at the Boston Early Music Festival, including Steffani's Niobe, Händel's Almira, Lully's Psyche and Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow.  

Guest soloist appearances abroad include Collegium Vocale Gent/ Philippe Herreweghe, Fundacao OSESP Orchestra/Louis Langrée, Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski, Rotterdam Philharmonic/Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Akademie für alte Musik/Marcus Creed, as well as with the RIAS Kammerchor, Het Brabants Orkest, Luxembourg Symphony, Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Museumsorchester Salzburg, Radio Kamer Filharmonie (Amsterdam Concertgebouw), Philharmonischer Chor Berlin, Estonian Chamber Choir, Camerata Salzburg and Musik Podium Stuttgart.  Operatic forays include Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi and in Aix-en-Provence and Mozart's La finta giardiniera in Aix and Luxembourg.

Particularly esteemed as a recitalist, he has been welcomed at London’s Wigmore Hall (accompanied by Graham Johnson), the Britten Festival in Aldeburgh, the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival, the Wratislavia Cantans in Poland, and at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden.  Recordings to date include Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch and Eisler and Henze song anthologies.   A prizewinner of  Holland’s  ‘s-Hertogenbosch Competition,  the U.K.’s Wigmore Hall Song Competition, Stuttgart, Germany’s Hugo Wolf Competition and Munich's 55th International ARD Competition, Mr. Balzer also holds the rare distinction of earning the Gold Medal at the Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau with the highest score in 25 years.   Born in British Columbia, he received his formal musical training at the University of British Columbia with David Meek and with Edith Wiens at the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg/Augsburg.

colin balzer Photos

colin balzer

Quartet from Händel's first Italian oratorio - "The Triumph of Time" (1707).
Excerpt from the 2014 Vancouver Early Music Festival production 
at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, B.C.

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colin balzer repertoire

colin balzer audio/video

Possente Spirto from Monteverdi's Orfeo​, Pacific MusicWorks, 2017