"Baritone José Luis Maldonado is another singer who has been on our radar screen for some time. Again, it is not just his powerful instrument or refined technique that draw us in, it is his ability to create a living breathing and believable character.
Last night he gave us a livid Falstaff, berating Pistola and Bardolfo for defending their "honor" when he requested their services in delivering identical letters to Meg Page and Ann Ford. His Falstaff is larger than life, just as he should be. Every gesture, every facial expression, every variation of dynamics seemed spontaneously motivated by the text. Probably it takes a lot of work to seem so spontaneous!
He also performed Figaro's aria with uncanny ability to go from the lowest end of the register to a mincing falsetto top. He was perfectly flexible in Rossini's rapid patter section and we held our breath as he extended his held notes, evincing superlative breath control."
-Voce di Meche on Underground Salon February 2020
"The baritone fiancé was José Luis Maldonado, whose warm, sizable, technically finished instrument blended sweetly with Brea’s in their duet, then filled the room with “Largo al factotum,” as if unaware that the dialogue had already put us in the wrong act. He has personality and he likes to fill rooms with sound and gesture."
- Parterre Box on El Barbero de Sevilla (Zarzuela)
“Similarly satisfying was the performance of baritone José Luis Maldonado who has made Figaro's "Largo al factotum" his signature piece; we never tire of hearing (and seeing) his interpretation. The joke, among many other jokes, was that he was secretly an opera singer masquerading as a surveyor--and furthermore, a baritone envious of tenors. But in this zarzuela, the baritone has the romantic lead as Elena's novio.”
- Meche Kroop , Voce di Meche on
El Barbero de Sevilla ( Zarzuela)
"Baritone José Luis Maldonado was undeniably the vocal standout of the night with some truly magnificent moments. He blended beautifully with Brea in their duet and let his sound ring in the small hall during ensembles. But his big moment was undeniably during “Largo al factotum” where he delivered a veritable scene stealer to remember. Every word was crystal clear with the high notes, especially the high Gs, resplendent and simply riveting (in this regard, the final two high Gs sounded even stronger and more present than the initial one). He also displayed tremendous agility in his voice with the rapid fire sections at the coda of the piece. "
- David Salazar , Operawire on
El Barbero de Sevilla ( Zarzuela)
“Manhattan School of Music grad José Luis Maldonado, a born Falstaff, enjoyed a personal triumph, singing in a resonant tone with fine legato, trumpeting high notes and unleashing comic oomph. “
David Shengold, Gay City News on Falstaff, July 2018
“Falstaff can't work without a larger-than-life artist to portray the titular character and José Luis Maldonado more than filled the bill (and the costume). We think the last time we reviewed him we called him a beast onstage. Great artists need more than a great voice; they need a stage presence that pulls the audience right in and this he did. He was, in turn, arrogant, deceitful, pompous, entrapped, humiliated, and abashed.”
Voce di meche on Falstaff , July 2018
“Sir John Falstaff was portrayed by José Luis Maldonado. His singing of “L’onore! Ladri!” at the conclusion of Act One was energetically performed. His repeated use of the word “No” was truly mind-boggling as well as “food for thought.” There is an old recording of this showpiece by Antonio Scotti and Mr. Maldonado gave it everything he had which was like the spumoni dessert tray at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. His dark flexible bass-baritone had a very active top which made for some delicious phrases. His second act singing of “Quand’ero paggio” recalling him, as a lean loined youth was noteworthy. “Va, vecchio John” was his theme but it bounces away before becoming maudlin. Falstaff represents defiance of time and his final comments of “Tutto e mondo è burla” are a perfect swan song and definitely not a swine song. Verdi’s Iago in Otello believes in a cruel God but also says “There is no God and heaven is an earthly sham.” (Credo) Falstaff is certainly less cynical and much more conciliatory. Mr. Maldonado with his outrageous courting attire drew many a laugh but he was likeable in his self-anointed futility. One found oneself utterly captivated by this Falstaff and the composer would have been pleased to see and hear such a wonderful performance.
I have seen Falstaff many times and I vividly recall Maestro Leonard Bernstein conducting a fabulous performance at the Metropolitan Opera in 1964. I have seen Tito Gobbi, Paul Plishka, the remarkable 69-year-old Giuseppe Taddei’s Met debut all memorable and Señor Maldonado carries on this great tradition.”
Brooklyn Eagle on Falstaff, July 2018
“José Luis Maldonado, a born buffo, offered resonant voice and outsize comic personality to spare as Don Magnifico.”
- David Shengold, Opera News (July 2018) on La Cenerentola, April 2018
“Maldonado was an excellent choice for the role of Don Magnifico. His voice resonated with delight and he was the master of appropriate dynamics that created interesting moments while he sang. Rossini’s Don Magnifico character was designed to symbolize both the light and dark perspectives of the story, so the necessary vocal technique and acting skills that were required to fill this role had great impact on the opera. Maldonado delivered all the audience hoped for and led everyone on the journey to discover who the real Prince Ramiro was in the story. “
-OperaWire on La Cenerentola (April 2018)
"Bass-baritone José Luis Maldonado has always impressed us with a voice as large as his frame and an easy dramatic focus that convinces us of whatever character he is playing. Here, he is Cenerentola's mean step-father who has used her patrimony to provide lavishly for his two natural daughters."
-Voce di Meche on La Cenerentola by Rossini (April 2018)
As Don Alfonso, the older cynic who sets the crazy plot in motion, José Maldonado might have stolen the show, were the other artists not as fine as they were. His huge Falstaffian presence and voice, augmented by seemingly natural dramatic chops, created a real character. Every glance and wry smile, every barb carried weight.
-Voce di Meche on Cosí fan tutte by W.A. Mozart (March 2018)
The final work on the program was the final scene from Verdi's Falstaff, fortunately not updated to the 1950's, as it is in "the big house". We think José Maldonado absolutely owns the role of The Fat Knight. His voice is as expansive as his girth and his acting conveyed every nuance of terror, humiliation, abject self-realization, and finally humorous self-acceptance...The staging was great fun, especially when the huge Falstaff is rolled around the stage with the entire cast prodding him with sticks. If Falstaff isn't fun we feel we've been shut out of something that Verdi and his librettist Arrigo Boito intended. This scene left us grinning from ear to ear. The evening was perfect... The time seemed to fly by.
-Voce di Meche on Manhattan School of Music Opera Scenes (Falstaff) (November 2017)
"Larger-than- life José Maldonado made a terrific showing as pig farmer extraordinaire,
Zsupán, with a seemingly unlimited baritone..."
- Opera News on Der Ziguenerbaron
You’d expect a college production to find its greatest strengths in the juvenile and ingenue roles, but at MSM it was the character parts that shone. The star comic is the wealthy pig farmer Zsupán—he wants to marry his prissy daughter to a nobleman—and the bass José Maldonado properly stole the show with his super-sized personality and colorful voice.
- Observer on Der Ziguenerbaron (April 2017)
José Maldonado was a hungry, hedonistic Haraschta, nursing dissatisfaction anddisappointment with a penetrating bass, while milking his sung crying for humor andpathos"
- Opera News on The Adventures of Vixen Sharp-Ears (March 2017)