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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Operatic and Sacred Arias
Il rè pastore, K208:
1. L’amerò, sarò costante [6:21]
Le nozze di Figaro, K492:
2. Voi che sapete [2:48]
3. Giunse alfin il momento… Deh, vieni, non tardar [4:53]
4. Porgi amor [3:48]
Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K384:
5. Welche Kummer herssht in meiner Seele [8:50]
Idomeneo, K366:
6. Solitudini amiche ... Zeffiretti lusinghieri [6:24]
Don Giovanni, K527:
7. In quale eccessi ... Mi tradi [6:02]
8. Crudele? ... Non mi dir [6:36]
Così fan tutte, K588:
9. Come scoglio [4:32]
10. Laudate Dominum from Vesperae solennes de confessore, K339 [5:16]
11. Laudate dominum from Vesperae de domenica, K321 [5:34]
Exsultate, jubilate, Motet K165:
12. Exsultate, jubilate [4:57]
13. Fulget amica dies [0:49]
14. Tu virginum corona [6:58]
15. Alleluja [2:57]
Lucia Popp (soprano)
Münchner Rundfunk-Orchester/Leonard Slatkin (1-9); English Chamber Orchestra/Georg Fischer (10-15), Leslie Pearson (organ)(10-15), Ambrosian Singers (10)
rec. 15-19 June 1983, Studio des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich (1-9); 6-7 January 1967, Kingsway Hall, London
Texts and translations enclosed
Experience Classicsonline

She was born as Lucia Poppová on 12 November 1939 in Uhorská Vesm in Czechoslovakia (today Záhorská Ves, Slovakia). She studied in Bratislava, where she also made her professional debut as the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. This became one of her early signature roles and it was also in this role that she made her recording debut in 1964. This was in the legendary EMI set, conducted by Otto Klemperer with a starry co-cast including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Gundula Janowitz, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, Walter Berry and Gottlob Frick. Gradually she moved over to lyric soprano roles like Susanna, Zerlina, Sophie and later took on heavier roles like Donna Elvira and Donna Anna, the Feldmarschallin and even Eva in Die Meistersinger. The present disc shows her in two different stages of her career. The sacred arias (tracks 10-15) are by the very young Lucia Popp, not yet 30 – this was one side of first solo record, the other side was a collection of Handel arias. In the opera arias we meet the mature artist and it is interesting to juxtapose recordings made sixteen years apart. In 1967 the voice is light, glittering and evenly produced; in 1983 it has grown in size and become more vibrant. It is als possible to detect a metallic edge that wasn’t wholly absent in 1967 but which like the vibrato has become more prominent. I mention this only because the difference is so obvious when one goes from track 9, Come scoglio, to track 19, Laudate dominum. In both cases the singing is lovely but I wouldn’t have wanted Come scoglio sung by the younger voice, nor do I think I would have liked to hear Laudate dominum sung with the 1983 voice. This music is so pure and serene and the young voice fits it like a glove. It is interesting to hear the other setting of the same text, K321, written a year earlier and so utterly different: a virtuoso piece with extensive runs and no sacred feeling whatsoever. This also goes for Exultate, jubilate, written for an Italian castrato by a 17-year-old Mozart, primarily to show off the singer’s technical accomplishment. Popp rips through the opening movement and the concluding Alleluja with bravura and shows considerable warmth in Tu virginum corona. This is fresh, delightful singing and I hope that EMI will find a suitable coupling for the Handel arias, since they are just as lovely. I was totally enchanted by her singing of Piangerò from Giulio Cesare, which I found on a compilation LP almost forty years ago.
Most of the characteristics to be found in these sacred arias are also to be heard in the mature opera recordings. Her technique is impeccable, her trill in L’amerò is perfect and the greater weight in the voice makes it possible for her to be dramatically convincing. I don’t know if she sang Cherubino on stage but Voi che sapete is suitably vivid and Susanna’s aria from the same opera is of course lovely. This was one of her most famous parts, memorably recorded complete for Decca with Solti. Her sad Countess, a role she eventually graduated to, is also touching. She also recorded this role complete for Philips under Neville Marriner.
She is an assured Konstanze and Ilia’s recitative (from Idomeneo) is sung with a few tears in the voice and a sensitive flicker. She is excellent as poor Donna Elvira and her Donna Anna is convincingly dramatic. She negotiates the quite fearful coloratura with an ease that few sopranos from the dramatic camp could even dream of.  Fiordiligi’s Come scoglio is also a feared aria with its wide range, forcing the singer down into the contralto basement. For a former Queen of the Night the upper reaches should pose no problems, but having started her vocal training as a mezzo-soprano she has full control of the depths as well.
This is a splended disc all round and a worthy tribute to one of the loveliest sopranos of later decades. Sadly she died of cancer at only 54 but we are lucky to have so much of her repertoire preserved on record.
Göran Forsling
EMI Great Recordings of the Century page


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