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Decca Phase 4
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
Crude furie (Serse) (1738) [3.43]
Dolce ripososo (Teseo) (1713) [3.14]
Ira, sdegni, e furore (Teseo) (1713) [4.46]
Moriro, ma vendicata (Teseo) (1713) [4.46]
L’angue offeso mai riposa (Giulio Cesare) (1724) [5.22]
Chiudetevi miei lumi (Admeto) (1727) [7.33]
There in myrtle shades reclined (Hercules) (1745)
Hence, Iris hence away (Semele) (1744) [3.39]
Sorge nell’alma mia (Imeneo) (1740) [5.21]
Scherza infida (Ariodante) (1735) [10.54]
Gelosia, spietata Aletto (Admeto) (1727) [5.00]
Destero dall’empia Dite (Amadigi) (1715) [5.23]
Cease Ruler of the Day (Hercules) (1745) [4.44]
Where shall I fly (Hercules) (1745) [6.00]
Les Talens Lyriques/Christopher Rousset
rec. during and after performances at Theatre de la Monnaie,
Brussels, April 2008
CLASSICS 5190382 [75.08]
her first recital disc, American mezzo-soprano has chosen
a fascinating selection of Handel arias, under the title
of Fuore. Though the recital ostensibly explores
madness in various different Handel characters, DiDonato
avoids the most obvious selection by omitting Orlando’s
mad scene. The recital mixes well known with lesser known
pieces, so that it successfully avoids being simply another
stroll through Handel’s greatest hits.
collection of Handel arias would be quite a challenge
for a debut recital, but DiDonato cuts herself very little
slack by selecting a number of virtuoso bravura pieces.
It is to her credit that not only does she bring this
off but gives us a profoundly satisfying, enthralling
and musical recital, rather than mere fireworks.
recital opens with a bravura account of Serse’s Crude
furie. This is then followed by three of Medea’s
arias from Teseo, Medea being one of Handel’s
most striking creations. She continues with Sesto’s revenge
aria from Giulio Cesare, Admeto’s deathbed scene,
tormented by Furies, and Alceste’s jealousy aria from Admeto.
Juno’s Iris hence away from Semele is,
perhaps, stretching the Fuore label a little.
But Tirinto’s impassioned aria of jealous frustration
from Imeneo has the advantage of being right on
subject and has the advantage of being relatively rare
on disc. The final group of arias consists of Ariodante’s Scherza
infida, Melissa’s Act 2 aria from Amadigi and
a pair of Dejanira’s arias from Hercules finishing
with her mad scene, Where shall I fly.
can be seen from this list, DiDonato’s selection ranges
quite widely, both in style and subject matter, and covers
an attractive variety of types of arias. DiDonato is
highly adept at the bravura, virtuoso singing required
here. She has an enviably secure technique with a warm
toned voice. The cover, with its glamour shots of the
singer, certainly does her a disservice; she is far more
intelligent and musical singer than it would lead you
has quite a wide range when it comes to opera and this
shows on this disc where here voice is richer and more
varied than some singers. It must be admitted that in
some of the faster, highly articulated passages she barely
avoids producing a Cecilia-Bartoli-like clucking, but
luckily this is not too persistent a habit.
some of the quieter numbers DiDonato sings in a more
intimate, almost cooing manner that is very much designed
just for CD, I can’t imagine it working in a house the
size of Covent Garden or the Met. If overdone this mode
of delivery could be annoying but in arias like Scherza
infida it proves profoundly moving.
has clearly thought about the affekts used in
each aria. You never feel that the singing is just thoughtlessly
cantering through the music. Sometimes her expressiveness
can go over the top as in Dejanira’s Where shall I
fly where DiDonato bends the vocal line and uses
sub-vocalisation; granted this is all in the name of
expression but I felt she should have trusted Handel’s
vocal line a little more.
is kept within the bounds of taste and decency, which
is a great relief, though there is a noticeable tendency
for the singer to push the vocal line up in the ornaments.
DiDonato is ably accompanied by Christophe Rousset and
Les Talens Lyriques; who provide crisp, vibrant playing.
The CD booklet includes an informative essay by the estimable
David Vickers and has full texts. The disc was recording
in collaboration with La Monnaie in Brussels, being recorded
during and after performances in the theatre, which perhaps
explains the wonderful vividness of the performances.
am aware that this review perhaps sounds less than enthusiastic
at times but this is an absorbing and brilliant recital,
a highly impressive debut. Only in a few details does
DiDonato fall below the high standard she sets herself.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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