> Angela Gheorghiu (soprano) 'Live from Covent Garden' [RF]: Classical CD Reviews- Sept 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)
'Live from Covent Garden'

Arias and songs by BELLINI (Norma); BREDICEANU (La Seceris); CHARPENTIER (Louise); CILEA (Adriana Lecouvreur).. HANDEL (Rinaldo),- MASSENET (Manon); LOEWE (My Fair Lady); MOZART (Le nozze di Figaro); PUCCINI (Gianni Schicchi, Madama Butterfly and Turandot).
Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)
Orchestra of The Royal Opera House, London/Ion Marin.
Rec 2001?
Full price
EMI CDC 5 57264-2 [51.00]


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The Romanian soprano is now a contract artist with EMI, having been wooed (or levered) from Decca following her association with the tenor, Roberto Alagna, now her husband. The catalogue has benefited from a series of acclaimed complete opera recordings centred round the duo, mainly of works by Puccini, but shortly to branch out into Verdi, Gounod and Bizet. The EMI contract has also produced a series of recital discs of which this is the latest and follows last year's entitled 'Casta Diva' (EMI CDC 5 57163-2 review) which featured that famous aria from Bellini's Norma, as well as arias by the other great bel canto-ists Donizetti and Rossini. That disc of 61 minutes duration was generally well received.

This disc derives from a live concert given at Covent Garden in June 2001, and is rather sparse at 51 minutes including generous dollops of applause both before, and after the performance! Justified applause? Certainly not in the first few tracks where the singerís intonation is suspect, the phrasing choppy and the voice exhibiting raw patches. Compare her 'Depuis la jour', a soprano showpiece with that by Renée Fleming (Decca 458 858-2), albeit in studio conditions, and there is no contest; the American wins hands down.

Gheorghiu comes into her own in the Cilea and particularly in the Puccini. By then the voice had warmed and 'O mio babbino, caro' (Gianni Schicchi) and Liu's 'Tu, che di gel sei cinta' from Turandot are particularly appealing. Her 'Porgi amor' (Figaro) is nothing special whilst her attempt at 'I could have danced all night' in execrable English (American?) is unidiomatic. As to her rendering of 'Casta Diva' from Norma, this reinforces my impression from last year's disc of that title, Gheorghiu hasn't the voice for the Bellinian cantilena; compare Sutherland, albeit with over-softened consonants, and one can hear what is missing.

The conducting of fellow Romanian Ion Marin is flaccid. He follows when he should lead. This disc might be OK for those who were there on the night and who seemed very satisfied, if one judges by level of applause, but as an example for posterity of this considerable artistís singing, it would have been better left in the archives.

Robert J Farr

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