"Manich's lively staging meshes pathos and bathos with quirky touches." New York Times
Tosca Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Omaha 2017
"It was in fact one of the most robust BLO opening nights I can recall."
"And above all, the Stage Direction by Crystal Manich was solid and sometimes surprising (no spoilers will be revealed here), which may dismay some purists but for the most part served the opera quite well indeed. It's a wonderful treat to re-encounter an operatic war horse that displays such an original yet respectful approach."
Triple Bill: Rameau & Vinci Sydney, Australia, 2017
"Director Crystal Manich set the trilogy as a benefactors' reception in an art gallery with lively design from Alicia Clements (set) and Melanie Liertz (costumes). This created an opportunity to unify all three with the theme of art and life, a central idea to the Pigmalion story of love between a sculptor and his creation, and symbolically injected into the other stories by interposing picture frames between viewer and singer."
"The chaos coalesces into the preparation for a lavish costume gala at an art gallery – a clever framing (pardon the pun) device with which director Crystal Manich binds the three works in Pinchgut Opera’s triple bill...Manich ties it all together neatly in the final scene, giving the works a nice through-line." -Limelight Magazine
"Director Crystal Manich, with set designer Alicia Clements and Melanie Liertz (costumes), ingeniously devised a way to link the three. The setting is an upscale art gallery where swanky benefactors’ events take place; think the Met Museum Gala transposed to crinolines rather than transparent boob tubes. The setting – tall and Enlightenment simple – suits the City Recital Hall and the predominant set and costume colours of icecream pastels is reflected in the blond wood interior: sumptuous and effective even as racks of costumes are wheeled on and off stage and the performers dress and re-dress for each piece. There is also some slyly symbolic work with giant picture frames that plays with “the look” and”the gaze” in a witty and post-modern (!) way. All this busyness successfully carries singers and audience through the more static elements of Anacréon in particular and also adds to the intimacy of opera that’s now virtually lost in the present day penchant for grandeur."
Carmen Opera Columbus 2017
"Director Crystal Manich devised an active, exciting production: This was a show in which tables were climbed upon and plates smashed. Spanish columns bordered a set that stood in for everything from a jail to Escamillo’s dressing room."
The Cunning Little Vixen Santa Barbara 2017
"Throughout, and also with much credit due the stage direction of Crystal Manich, set and lighting designer Francois-Pierre Couture and costume designers Constance Hoffman and Stacie Logue, we were fed indicators from the outset that we're on enchanted and fairly surreal turf here — even by the naturally irrational threshold of dramatic license of the opera medium." -Santa Barbara News-Press
La bohème Omaha 2016
"Manich’s direction of the ensemble sections, particularly with the four artists, was delightfully energetic, revealing a light humor that is often lost in Puccini’s operas. Their exceptional natural rapport made it clear that these four men were and had been best friends for many years as they joked and bantered...Manich beautifully staged the slow revelation of Mimì’s death: each character, one by one, encircled Mimì’s body, leaving Rodolfo alone in the center to make the final realization." -Opera News
Armida Sydney, Australia, 2016
"Director Crystal Manich and her team overcame the venue’s spatial limitations... Manich was mainly concerned with exploring the protagonists’ inner worlds rather than delving into other issues such as power, politics and war. Her light directorial touch ensured she succeeded, keeping us riveted to the emotional concerns of the characters." -The Australian
"The staging was probably the most impressive I have yet seen from Pinchgut. Crystal Manich used the fact that the stage at Angel Place has no depth but great height, by suspending another stage about 4 metres above the main one. Visually this was very effective, and dramatically it was useful in that it enabled the Syrian castle and the dense woods [...] to be visible both at once."
"These parallel psychological journeys were pretty well realised in Crystal Manich's visually engaging production, one that sits in a timeless world somewhere between the Enlightenment and the early 20th century. The American director's strongest moments came in the third act where her sense of theatricality comes to the fore and she allows a bit more of the 'magic' to bleed through. The gradual stripping away of Armida's illusory layers to reveal the the desiccated ghoul beneath has a lovely Game of Thrones feel to it. The appearance of the baleful sorceress, Cathy Earnshaw-like behind the window, is a chilling coup de theâtre."
Samson et Dalila Tulsa 2016
"Director Crystal Manich stages the action deftly — the opening scene of the Hebrews mourning their lot and Samson’s efforts to rally them to rebellion has a kind of visual poetry."
Werther Boston 2016
"Massenet’s critics dismissed him as a sentimentalist and, in emasculating terms, as 'Mademoiselle Wagner'. Had they the benefit of a production as insightful and persuasive as the BLO’s, however, they might have realized that Werther paints a portrait of obsessive and destructive passion as psychologically valid and complex as anything in Wagner."
Manich receives "Best of 2015" for two productions
"But perhaps the best opera production of the year was Tulsa Opera’s "Romeo and Juliet" featuring Daniel Montenegro and Sarah Coburn the title roles. Director Crystal Manich’s staging deftly mixed the naturalistic with the highly theatrical."
“Where [soprano Camille Zamorra] excelled artistically was describing, both directly and indirectly, a pair of people who clearly love each other, who don’t know how to let go, and whose shortcomings and incompatibilities we will never know.”
Werther Buenos Aires 2015
"Worth noting is the direction of North American Crystal Manich for her remarkable work with the acting." -La Nación
"And finally, as promised, a brief overall comparison of the two productions of Werther: without the glamor, the glitz and the enormity of the Teatro Colón, with limited means on a very beautiful but small stage, I can say that in the end the work presented by Buenos Aires Lírica had the advantage. Why? Simply because the staging was more talented..." -El Apasionado
Don Giovanni North Carolina Opera 2015
"Our state has not lacked for fine, professional performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, but director Crystal Manich has set a new standard in the depth of attention to telling performance details." -CVNC Online Arts Journal, April 2015
"Crystal Manich’s perceptive direction reconfirms the human comedy in the vanities and desires of pursuers and the pursued. She instills the singers with the delicate balance between heartfelt sentiment and ironic self-awareness. Manich also cleverly matches characters’ movements and expressions to the music’s rhythms and emphases." -News Oberver, April 2015
"In her management of North Carolina Opera’s 2014 semi-staged performance of Dvořák’s Rusalka, Stage Director Crystal Manich revealed herself to be an innovative director of opera for whom invention does not equate with intrusion. Her direction of Don Giovanni was bold, sometimes daringly so, but always respectful of both composer and librettist. Even at its most fanciful, Ms. Manich’s concept of the opera was undeviatingly anchored in Mozart’s music and da Ponte’s words." -Voix des Arts
Così fan tutte Utah Opera 2015
"Few, if any, could match Mozart and da Ponte at balancing farcical comedy and keen psychological insight. The physical comedy in Crystal Manich's staging kept Saturday's audience engaged and laughing to the end of the 3-hour-plus evening, but never at the expense of the characters' emotional journeys. Under Manich's direction, all six characters ultimately are sympathetic; all six performers help us understand why they behave and believe as they do. Despite the outcome remaining in doubt until the end, there's a logical resolution — or, at least, as logical as real life can be." -Salt Lake Tribune, March 2015
Adriana Lecouveur Buenos Aires Lírica 2014
"The main merit of scenic treatment is provided by American director Crystal Manich who precisely links the movements necessary for the development of the action without hindering the flow of this musical masterpiece of the great operatic repertoire." -La nación, June 2014
I puritani Boston Lyric Opera 2014
"Brave BLO's Puritani follows in the wake of a starry production at the Met in April, but is sure to deliver a strong sense of ensemble under the direction of Crystal Manich, who brings visual impact and subtle characterisation to her work in opera." -Opera Now, April 2014
Rusalka North Carolina Opera 2014
"Directed by Crystal Manich, the staging made no attempt at giving the opera any sort of artificial ‘relevance.’ Rather, all efforts were focused on giving Dvořák’s score the best performance possible. The talented, unusually homologous cast having achieved this rivetingly, often unforgettably, the opera spoke for itself. More than four thousand miles from Prague, Rusalka came to life in Raleigh with unmistakable significance and boundless beauty."
"The 'semi-staging' of director Crystal Manich and her lighting, costume and stage design team worked, too. Refusing to be limited by the possibilities at the front lip of the stage, Manich turned a piano lift into a shimmering lake and made full use of balconies, ladders, a backstage chorus and exits through the back of the house. She conveyed shifts of place and mood subtly with various projections and lighting schemes... The production, which general director Eric Mitchko told me was the 'most staged' of NC Opera’s four semi-staged works to date, felt rich and complete, even without a full set."
Madama Butterfly Opera Columbus 2013
Aida Pittsburgh Opera 2013
The Return of Ulysses Opera Omnia 2013
"Ms. Manich’s staging was imaginative, freely mingling modern and antiquarian touches in the sets and costumes, and making clever use of shadow play."
Madama Butterfly Pittsburgh Opera 2013
"Ms. Manich's blocking was nuanced, in contrast to her bold lighting. Puccini's glorious music is, of course, what powers this essentially static plot. But she directed a number of movements and glances that gave the action an unaffected atmosphere."
"Crystal Manich's new stage direction had great impact."
"Manich was masterly in presenting the dramatic confrontation between Cio-Cio San and her community after she renounces Japanese culture to become an American wife. She was imaginative in using the minimalist set and achieved strong character definition and interactions throughout."
Pittsburgh Opera soars with 'Madama Butterfly' (Post-Gazette)
Pittsburgh Opera presents unusual performance of 'Madama Butterfly' (Tribune-Review)
Der fliegende Holländer Opera Roanoke 2012
"Crystal Manich's production was pure simplicity, but welcome amid of a plethora of overly complex Dutchman productions." [-Wagner Society of New York]
Don Giovanni Bay View Festival 2012
"Crystal Manich's staging is imaginative with delightful touches of humor. Her use of the 'minuet' dance made the party scene an interesting fit with the action as does her attention to details."
"The show is sung in Italian but with these graphic scenes the story is easy to follow."
L'Elisir d'amore Utah Opera 2012
"Stage director Crystal Manich made sure that each chorus member had a clear identity; their interactions established a strong sense of community and helped the audience warm to them right away."
"Their flirtation ebbed and flowed sensibly with stage director Crystal Manich's light-handed guidance."
Giasone Opera Omnia, New York City 2011
"Crystal Manich’s lively staging meshes pathos and bathos with quirky touches alluding to Poisson Rouge’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, and illuminates the link between Cavalli’s satire and the commedia dell’arte tradition." New York Times
"Cavalli’s and librettist Cicognini’s decision to take the ghastly Medea-murders-Jason’s-children-out-of-revenge myth and give it broad comic elements, sexual innuendo and a happy ending works brilliantly, especially given the cabaret setting, the punk look of the costumes (the Argonauts’ vests are festooned with safety pins and hippie emblems and the Golden Fleece is a denim cut-off jacket lined in lambswool with a gold emblem on the back), props and sets (crates, fake flowers) and director Crystal Manich’s rich sense of irony."
Rinaldo Pittsburgh Opera 2011
"The singing was full of fervor, the orchestra was superb, and Crystal Manich's staging was anything but bare-boned...The most striking aspect of the staging was the way Manich used lighting and stage manner to convey Armida's magical hold over Rinaldo and Almirena." -Tribune-Review
La bohème Utah Opera 2010
"But if you are one of the opera's many devotees, you'll revel in the beautiful singing and fabulous look of this updated staging, as the opening night crowd did."
"There were some nice, telling moments in Saturday’s performance, stage directed by Crystal Manich. Leerhuber had a poignant turn at the end of the third act, in which Marcello plays wistfully with one of the gloves Musetta left behind, that spoke volumes. Powers echoed that moment in the next act as he contemplated Mimì’s forgotten bonnet — a sweet bit of symmetry."
Madama Butterfly Buenos Aires Lírica, Argentina 2010
"The American director Crystal Manich, who debuted here with this staging, couldn't have done it better. The work was quite traditional, but full of supreme taste, profound understanding of the work and conceptual clarity. The development of the action-quite linear and simple-resulted in clarity and precision." -Mundo Clasico.com
“The music [of Puccini], enriched with enveloping melodies of inspiration, achieves expressive tensions of doubtless effect of easy captation. The version offered by Buenos Aires Lírica crystallized this ideal.” -La Nación
“The stage director bent towards realism, but at the beginning of the second part of the second act she allowed a change of style to take the anguish of Butterfly to a surreal plane, where dreamlike images place the protagonist against the multiplied presence of her beloved. A very powerful and moving sequence.” -La Nación
“[Florencia Fabris] dramatically—and this is certainly a merit that the singer shared with the direction of the American Crystal Manich—her character never abandons the feeling of being pierced by a deep concern.” -Clarín
“The dissipated paraphernalia of the bicentennial celebrations ended the week with the delight of caring, tidy and very well performed Madama Butterfly... The staging of Crystal Manich was pregnant with nuances that passed through hope, distress, anguish, passion and tragedy of an oriental profile, including some symbolic resources to great effect at the beginning of the second part of the second act... In short, it is a show that reaffirms the path of continued growth in Buenos Aires Lirica in a very opportune moment for the enhancement of the deep cultural roots that Buenos Aires was able to cultivate over two centuries.” -Host News
La bohème Pittsburgh Opera 2009
“The excellent production of La boheme that Pittsburgh opera unveiled in 2003 returned to the Benedum Center Saturday night... [with] often appealing staging by a new director.” -Tribune-Review
“The secondary romantic duo in the opera, Marcello and Musetta, was particularly well handled by director Crystal M. Manich... The last act was the most vocally compelling Friday night and well staged as well.”
Preview articles about Bohème:
Orpheus and Euridice Pittsburgh Opera 2008
“Staged simply but effectively by Crystal Manich.”
The Coronation of Poppea Opera Omnia, New York City 2008
“Stage director Crystal M. Manich went for a naturalistic acting style, well in keeping with this tale of sex and tyranny.” -The Wall Street Journal
“Crystal M. Manich’s direction was largely free of gimmicks and fancy concepts...” -Musical America
“Much of the long first act was delivered with greater directness and emotional honesty than I have encountered in dozens of higher profile ‘heavy concept’ productions which reduce the work to camp. There was no camp here; and consequently what an emotionally and ethically disturbing work we are confronted with!” -ClassicsToday.com
“Even more important - most important- director Crystal Manich never once played this for comic-book laughs (and I have seen the opera this way). Not a single scene (except a silly one in the Second Act) is played anything but seriously. When Seneca is about to die, his acolytes huddle in the corner like Socrates’ disciples, with those most tragic Monteverdi chords. When the nurse Arnalta sings to Poppea as she sleeps, the hush is almost audible. The would-be murder, which could be grand guignolis melodrama, with honest urgency.” -ConcertoNet.com
“The stage direction of Crystal M. Manich and music direction of Avi Stein worked to create exactly the kind of intimate ‘play with music’ which was the hallmark of early Italian opera when it made its commercial debut in Venice.” -ClassicsToday.com