ESCAMILLO – CARMEN
LYRIC OPERA OF KANSAS CITY
“Escamillo was sung by Richard Ollarsaba; I've seen him played more faddishly and crudely by some, heightened the contrast between himself and the erst-while respectable Don Jose; Ollarsaba looked and sang more gentlemanlike: a fine, resonant bass-baritone."
“The best French came from bass-baritone Richard Ollarsba who embodied and acted a totally credible Escamillo and put over the matador's terrifyingly rangy "Voter toast" extremely well."
– Opera News
"Ollarsaba gives perhaps the best overall performance of the production as the toreador Escamillo. With a patch over one-eye, he expresses machismo and self-assurance and sings his signature arias with exceptional bravado, vitality and clarity."
– The Greek Press
"As the toreador Escamillo, baritone Richard Ollarsaba was handsome, agile, and sang with great style and assurance."
– Ithaca Times
“One of the most memorable occurrences of the evening was Richard Ollarsaba’s Escamillo. Donned in a beautiful pin-stripped suit, dapper to the nines and with a tight barbered scruff, he was a vision of want and desire. But as he began to sing the Toréador song, I know I heard one or more members of the audience, if not the singers on stage make an other characters and sang with gasp of “Wow”. And deservedly so. Rich undertones and a very velvety top make his Escamillo one of the best that I have heard in recent past.”
“Ollarsaba's Latin swagger and intensity was without rival; he made Escamillo a swaggering statue of sinew and flame."
– DC Metro Theater Arts
NORTH CAROLINA OPERA
“As the strutting bullfighter, Ollarsaba cut a fine figure, his baritone ringing out in the familiar "Toreador Song". The aria is always difficult to pull off, but he did so with panache. Ollarsaba's later scenes with Carmen and Don José were equally well-handled, including a believable knee fight with the latter."
“As Escamillo the bull fighter, Ollarsaba makes you believe he could halt a charging bull with the power of his voice the way he conveys the suspense of a corrida in "Voter Toast."
– Tulsa World
DON GIOVANNI – DON GIOVANNI
OPERA HONG KONG
“Ollarsaba as the decadent don...conveyed moments of dark humor with dark vocal timbres rich in narrative nuance.”
– South China Morning Post
OPERA GRAND RAPIDS
“Ollarsaba, who plays Don Giovanni, commanded the stage from he first moment he set foot on it. Tall, swaggering, and thin like a rock star, he brought a devilish charisma to the role...It wouldn't have meant much if he couldn't sing; thankfully, he could, and did, in a deep, thick bass-baironte that soared confidently above the music.”
– the rapidian
“Dashing, cruel, and overflowing with conceit, bass-abriotne Richard Ollarsaba made a stunning debut as Giovanni. His overtures to Elvira, her maid, and the peasant girl Zerlina were lusciously seductive. Encounters with leporello and Masetto crackled with scornful superiority, sometimes snarling and sometimes nonchalant. The old Commendatore seemed to draw the very best from Ollarsaba, cavalierly deferential to his age in resisting his challenges to combat in the opening scene, defiant and fatally unrepentant when Giovanni's fat was sealed.”
ASDRUBALE – LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE | ROSSINI
WOLF TRAP OPERA
“The count Asdrubale (Richard Ollarsaba, evoking a young Ruggero Raimondi in looks and manner, with a meltingly smooth bass-baritone).”
– The Washington Post
"As Asdrubale, Richard Ollarsabaused his sizable, creamy bass-baritone to keen effect. He proved an astute comic actor, too, especially in Act 1, cavorting in disguise as a turban-topped, snake-cuddling creditor (as part of the Count's scheme to see if anyone will stick with him if he were penniless)."
– Opera News
"In an unusual move Rossini gave the romantic lead to a bass, sung here with resounding force and emotional intensity by Richard Ollarsaba. Fine examples of his musical sensitivity and comic skill came in the echo part of Calrice's Act I cavatina "Quel dirmi, oh Did!" and the Count's nasal voicing of the mysterious creditor who appears to bankrupt him. Complete with leopard skin, multicolored turban, and boa constrictor around his neck, Ollarsaba was one of the evening's comic highlights."
SOLOIST – REQUIEM | VERDI
MASTER CHORALE OF SOUTH FLORIDA
“Richard Ollarsaba adroitly held up the quartet's low end with a basso-cantante voice both mellow and powerful. His bottom notes in the "Confutatis" were firm and he brought elegance to his vocal production, avoiding the exaggerated histrionics or gravely sonority some basses evidence in this music.”
– South Florida Classical Review
“...the bass's thunderous "Confutatis" rendered with strong, deep tones and a sense of urgency by Richard Ollarsaba. “
– Palm Beach Arts Papers
COUNT – LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
“As the Count, Ollarsaba didn't just have the tall-dark-and-handsome bit going for him, but also robust, flavorful, agile vocalism...he delivered his Act III aria with particular panache. Ollarsaba's portrayal of the amoral aristocrat deftly conveyed a sense of entitlement as well as a telling bit of insecurity, making his gorgeously sculpted "Contessa pardon" all the more affecting.”
– Opera News
“Ollarsaba's portrayal of the Count was outstanding. From the start there was an air of aristocratic entitlement with a whole lot of Al Bundy incompetence thrown in for good measure. “
– digitalbeat magazine
“One was naturally drawn to bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba in the role of Count Almaviva. his rich voice bristled with power as he showed his exasperation at being tricked.”
FIGARO – LE NOZZE DI FIGARO
NEW ZEALAND OPERA
“Figaro sung by Ollarsaba perfumed with a rich controlled voice, his every gesture finely tuned.”
– New Zealand Arts Review
“Ollarsaba played superbly off the other characters and sang with healthy resonance and smooth tone throughout, changing noticeably from jovial (if sometimes clueless) trickster to a deeper, sympathetic character in his angry scene in Act 4.”
“Ollarsaba's virile Figaro encompassed the character's many facets – bold, playful, bitter–and cut a striking figure.”
– Opera News
"Ollarsaba led the evening's show in the title role, gifting our cities with a fine performance. Ollarsaba warmed up quickly, taking a poised and broad command of his role as primo uomo. His performance of the famous melody "Non piú andrai" at the end of Act I was perfectly sarcastic, witty, and fun."
– Life in Revue
BEYOND THE ARIA
BEYOND THE ARIA – HARRIS THEATER
“Richard Ollarsaba more than held his own with his starry colleagues [Thomas Hampson and Heide Stober]. In two Viktor Ullmann settings, the young bass-baritone displayed a dark, deep-pile voice, delivering a jaunty "Vorausbestimmung" and a hearty paean to Bacchus in "Lob des Weines.
"His two contemporary settings proved a highlight of the evening. In Chris De Blasio's "Walt Whitman in 1989" he offered a poignant redering of the AIDS–inspired setting. (The composer died of the illness at age 34.)
"Ollarsaba's performance of Steven Kohn's "The War Prayer" was mesmerizing. The singer showed the poise and communicating power of a seasoned artist, singing with commanding, stentorian tone and delivering all the passion, tenderness and biting irony of Mark twain's antiwar text."
– Chicago Classical Review