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PUCCINI (1858 – 1924) Puccini Romance La bohème O soave fanciulla [3:36]*# Che gelida manina [4:30]# Si, mi chiamano Mimi [4:28]* Donde lieta usci [3:02]* Tosca Recondita armonia [2:41]# E lucevan le stelle [2:52] # Ah, quegli occhi! [5:27]*# Le villi Se come voi piccina [5:03]* La fanciulla del West Ch’ella mi creda [1:58]# Cristantemi [7:10] La rondine Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Doretta’s Dream)
[3:00]* Turandot Nessun dorma [2:55]# Madama Butterfly Un bel di [4:13]* Viene la sera [13:19]*#
Halloran (soprano)*, Rosario La Spina (tenor)#,
The Queensland Orchestra/Stephen Mould
rec. 30 January – 2 February 2007, The Queensland Orchestra
Studios, Ferry Road, Brisbane
Texts and English translations enclosed ABC CLASSICS
476 6404 [65:47]
wonder if there really is a market for the plethora of
Puccini recordings that have been pouring out during this
anniversary year. Some of these have been issued at ridiculously
low prices. I bought a 15 CD set from Decca with nine operas,
all of them with Tebaldi as the heroine, recorded in the
late 1950s and early 1960s, and the whole box cost me what
I normally have to pay for three full price CDs. And this
is only one example of the enormous output. It is wonderful
to have the classic recordings with greats from earlier
decades but there are still brand new recordings with present
day singers being issued and the present disc is one of
them. Two young Australian singers, primarily active in
the home country but with – especially Rosario La Spina – appearances
in Europe, Japan and the US, make this joint effort with
arias and duets, which often is a better prospect than
the straight solo recital.
order of the program is a bit haphazard. It is true that
the excerpts from each opera are grouped together but not
in the order of performance. Thus the disc opens with the
love duet from La bohème that is the end of act
I, followed by the two arias that precede it. From Tosca we
get the two tenor arias in the right order but then comes
the duet from the end of act I and I think it would have
been a better idea to insert the duet between the arias.
This may seem as small-minded grumbling but even though
these are isolated chunks from the opera it would make
more sense to keep the order. In the case of La bohème it
would seem natural to perform the end of the first act
as one continuous piece.
carping. The recording, made in the orchestra’s own studio,
is praiseworthily detailed with the instrumental solos
leaping out of the speakers with superb realism and the
overall sound of the orchestra is well integrated. There
is a certain lack of atmosphere, though, a sense of clinical
purity. This also afflicts the voices, revealing strengths
as well as weaknesses that can sometimes be masked in more
La Spina has a bright, rather light tenor and he sings
with very open youthful tone. Even though he doesn’t have
violent attack that was Giuseppe Di Stefano’s hallmark
he has the same forward voice production and there lies
a risk in this, especially the uncovered and pointed vowels ‘i’ and ‘e’.
His enunciation of the text is uncommonly clear, every
word is distinct, but sometimes he feels over-conscientious – there
is a bit of school-book about it. His singing is mostly
stylish, there are no over-emphatic histrionics, no sobs,
no sliding up to the high notes. In a way he reminds me
of the young Nicolai Gedda, who never had a very Italianate
timbre but still could be very efficient in that repertoire.
La Spina also seems on the light side and his top notes,
though produced with considerable ring, are a bit strained.
The high C in Che gelida manina is OK but slightly
pinched. He is actually better in Cavaradossi’s two arias
from Tosca and it is a relief to hear the hackneyed Nessun
dorma sung so lyrically and unaffectedly.
Halloran has a more traditional lirico-spinto soprano,
quite large and ringing out impressively at climaxes. Unfortunately
it is afflicted by a sometimes too generous vibrato and
in some arias, notably Anna’s aria from Le villi and
Doretta’s Dream from La rondine she is rather unattractively
shaky. She is at her best in some of the duets. The one
from Tosca has true dramatic potential and she seems
to have a special affinity for Madama Butterfly. In Un
bel di vedremo she manages to sound quite girl-like
and she tames her vibrato admirably and the concluding
duet from the same opera is probably the best thing on
this recital with La Spina truly inspired.
are also vouchsafed a purely instrumental number, the early Crisantemi from
1880. It was written for string quartet in memory of the
Duke of Savoy in one night. I normally prefer the quartet
version, frailer and more Chrysanthemum-like, but I admit
that it is well played here in a finely nuanced reading.
hardly an issue that shakes the hegemony in the Puccini
stakes it is, at least in the case of Rosario La Spina,
a worthy calling-card.
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