The Best of Opera, Volume 4.
Naxos 8.554682 [DDD] [77'58]
Compilations of well-known operatic arias are two-a-penny these days, and
it is only to be expected that Naxos delve from time to time into their opera
archives for your sixteen (or so) best loved tunes. Given the variable quality
Naxos provide, ranging from the must-buys to the risible, it will come as
no surprise that this disc is variable in the extreme. The relentless
Meistersinger Overture that opens the compilation is uncomfortably
harsh and is driven too hard by Johannes Wildner (presiding over the Polish
NRSO). Hardly the most auspicious beginning.
Perhaps it's fairest to point out the highlights of the highlights first.
Miriam Gauci's Sola, perduta, abbandonata is all the more powerful
because of its admirable restraint. Unfortunately even this does not persuade
us we are even vaguely in the vicinity of an opera house. Korngold's
Glück, das mir verlieb from Die tote Stadt weaves a magical
web of sound over which Katarina Dalayman and Thomas Sunnegardh spin their
vocal web. Ewa Podles is glitteringly virtuoso in Nasqui all'affanno
from Rossini's Cenerentola.
Vincenzo La Scola's Una furtiva lagrima from L'elisir d'amore is
impressive in its refusal to rush. But taken out of its present context and
set against multitudinous competition, it shrivels up and dies. Maria Dragoni
shows some tenderness in Ritorno vincitor (Aida), which is more than
can be said for Herbert Lippert's crass, unmusical, strained and rushed Dies
Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (from Mozart's
Zauberflöte, and not 'bezaubernd' enough, obviously). Maurizio
Frusoni's Di quella pira from Trovatore is a competent run-through.
The disc ends with in good old verismo fashion with Giacomo Aragall's version
of Mamma, quel vino è generoso from Mascagni's Cavalleria
Zzzz Colin Clarke
Performance ** (overall)