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Opera Arias sung by Lucia Popp
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Zauberflote, Ach, ich fühl's, es ist werschwunden (Pamina)
Le Nozze di Figaro, E Susanna non vien..Dove sono i bei momenti (Countess)
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)

Der Freischutz, Wie nahte mir der Schlummer (Agathe)
Hermann GOETZ (1840-1876)

Der widerspenstigen Zähmung, Die Kraft versagt (Katharina)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Rigoletto, Caro nome (Gilda)
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Gianni Schicchi, O mio babbino caro (Lauretta)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)

Manon, Allons! Il le faut!... Adieu, notre petite table (Manon)
Gustave CHARPENTIER (1860-1956)

Louise, Depuis le jour (Louise)
Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884)

Prodanà nevesta (The bartered Bride), Oh! jàky zai! (Oh, what a grief!) (Maria)
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Rusalka, Mesícku nanebi hlubokém (O silver moon) (Rusalka)
Lucia Popp (soprano)
Munich Radio Orchestra/Kurt Eichorn
Recorded June 1982. Munich, Germany
ARTS MUSIC 47517-2 [55.22]

 

Lucia Popp (12/11/1939 - 16/11/1993)

Although born in Czechoslovakiain 1939, Lucia Popp's name is Austrian. She has a family lineage across the boundaries of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her mother was a singer and Lucia was musically literate from an early age. She gave up the study of medicine to take up acting and singing. She made her debut as Queen of Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute at the Bratislava Opera in 1963. At around the same time Popp auditioned for the Vienna State Opera including being heard by Karajan. She was quickly signed up by the theatre and by EMI for their recording of The Magic Flute under Klemperer. Popp quickly graduated to Salzburg, Covent Garden (1966 as Oscar in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera) and the Met in her signature role of Queen of Night. At this time her voice was a lyric coloratura, but characterised by a middle a little higher up the range than many others in this fach. This enabled Popp to add more colour, characterisation and meaning to the vocal pyrotechnics than is often the case. With her purity of line and smooth legato, she was in constant demand in the higher-lying roles of Mozart and Richard Strauss. In 1974-75 she sang no fewer than seven roles in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s acclaimed Mozart cycle in Cologne. With her voice filling, Popp consciously moved towards the more central lyric repertoire and sang Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto (tr. 4) and Lauretta in Gianni Schicci (tr. 5). As Gilda her trill is secure and the characterisation impressive although I suspect her voice here is fuller than when she made her recording of the role under Gardelli ten years earlier (BMG). A creamy tone, expressive phrasing and sheer musicality are the vocal characteristics with which Popp’s singing illuminates the arias on this polyglot selection, sympathetically conducted and clearly recorded.

At the time of this recording Popp has recently set down her Pamina under Haitink (EMI) and Susanna on Solti’s starry cast Figaro (Decca). She was just about to embark on her first Eva in Der Meistersinger at Covent Garden. Her singing is fluent, the voice pliant with just a touch of metal at the very top as can be heard in Pamina’s Ach, ich fühl's (tr. 1). Popp’s fine legato and expression are heard to particularly good effect in the Countess’s Dove sono (tr. 6) and her rendition of Rusalka’s Song to the Moon (tr. 8), a showstopper in any recital. Her way with words and facility in languages can be further sampled in Agatha’s Wie nahte (tr. 2) and Oh! jàky zai! from Smetana’s Bartered bride (tr. 9). These are examples. There is no wasted time on this disc. It fully reflects Popp’s singing skills and extensive repertoire at this stage of her career.

Fate bestowed gifts of ravishing beauty, abundant intelligence and musicality, and a most beautiful voice on Lucia Popp. Fate then turned its other face and she was taken at the premature age of 54. We are singularly fortunate that her legacy of recordings of many of the roles she sang is extensive. This varied collection was made at the vocal peak of what might be called her second period. It is as wide and varied in repertoire as any other collection of Lucia Popp’s singing. It enjoys the added advantage of unity of sound and conducting that comes from dedicated sessions and is sometimes lacking when collections are put together from a diverse variety of sources. Lovers of quality singing and of Lucia Popp’s particular skills should add this clear and well-recorded disc to their collection.

Robert J Farr

see also review by Jonathan Woolf

 



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