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Anna Tomowa-Sintow - soprano
Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eugene Onegin - Puskaj pagibnu ja (Tatiana’s Letter Scene) [12.31]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Otello - Piangea cantando (Willow Song) ...
Ave Maria [14.58]
La forza del destino - Pace, pace mio Dio [5.25]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Ariadne Auf Naxos - Ein schönes war [6.28]
Es gibt ein Reich [5.50]
Arabella - Mein Elemer! Das hat so einen (Arabella’s Monologue) [8.03]
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (soprano)
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Kurt Masur
rec. Leipzig, Auensee Hall. December 1974 ADD
Experience Classicsonline

Anna Tomowa-Sintow was born in 1941 in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. She studied voice at the National Conservatory of Sofia and then joined the Opera Studio of the Leipzig Opera. There in 1967 she made her professional stage debut as Abigaille in Nabucco. She did not follow that renowned vocal-killer by moving quickly into the heavier roles. Instead she gradually built a repertoire of more lyric parts such as in Mozart and Richard Strauss. In 1972, she joined the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, where she continued to expand her repertoire with the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, Aida, Tosca, Der Rosenkavalier, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Eugene Onegin. Her first international breakthrough occurred in Paris in 1973 with the Verdi Requiem at the Dôme des Invalides and a few months later in Geneva with Otello.


1973 was the defining year in Tomowa-Sintow’s career as she auditioned for Karajan at the Salzburg Summer Festival. She was immediately engaged and continued to work with him for 17 years in a collaboration that extended from stage to concert hall and included tours to America and Japan as well as numerous recordings and films. From 1973 to 1991 she appeared each year at the Salzburg festivals during which many of her opera performances were filmed particularly those by Richard Strauss including Ariadne, Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier Countess Madelaine in Capriccio along with the Four Last Songs. She also sang Donna Anna, twice, at Salzburg as well as Tosca. To her Strauss roles she has since added the Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten and the mammoth part of the Ägyptische Helena. She has sung with all the great conductors and at the major opera houses of the world. During her Salzburg years Anna sang both Verdi’s Leonora and Amelia in a spectacular production of Un Ballo in Maschera in Geneva in 1984 with Pavarotti and Cappuccilli - recorded for television. The role of Helena indicates a voice capable of heavier roles and over the past fifteen years or so she has not feared to move in this direction. She sang her first Turandot at the re-opening of the Liceu in Barcelona in 1999 having already taken on Norma in 1995 and added Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and Salome in 1997.


The present recording was made just after Tomowa-Sintow’s Leipzig years and just as her international reputation was taking wing. Kurt Masur, the renowned Kapellmeister of the Leipzig theatre as well as chief conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra is on the rostrum. Immensely experienced in working with singers his support of Anna is a point of strength throughout this recording. Masur’s broad supportive tempi can be appreciated in the orchestral introductions to Tatiana’s Letter Scene (tr.1), the Willow Song from Otello (tr.2) and Arabella’s Monologue (tr.6). They also show the fine balance and clarity of the recording.


For this recording Tomowa-Sintow seems to have chosen women in emotionally fraught situations. Not surprisingly her professional debut role of Tatiana is first off. The soprano’s light silvery lyric voice is ideal here for both the music and expressing Tatiana’s varying emotions ranging from frustration at Onegin’s presumptuous rejection of her to foreboding for the future (tr.1). Desdemona’s premonitions are even more fraught. She looks back to her untroubled childhood in the Willow Song with its reprised phrases of Salce, Salce (tr.2) before launching into the Ave Maria (tr.3). Her attack on that launch note is secure as is her highest register throughout. She sounds a young Desdemona, but is fully able to colour and cover her tone to bring a wide range of expression to her singing. Her Forza del Destino Leonora is less convincing. There I find her voice needing more heft, colour and expression (tr.4). Her singing of Ariadne and Arabella finds the form of the Tchaikovsky, with her voice absolutely secure at the high tessitura. There is some inevitable softening of the consonants to the detriment of diction; as much a fault of the composer perhaps as the singer.


Apart from my minor reservations Anna Tomowa-Sintow meets the varying challenges of this recital with distinction and much promise, later realised to the full. Although of somewhat short measure, this disc provides an excellent example of the singer at the outset of her considerable career.


Robert J Farr


see also Review by Göran Forsling 




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