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Verdi & Verismo - Fabiana Bravo (soprano)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
Don Carlo
1. Tu che le vanitŕ [10:17]
Il Corsaro
2. Non so le tetre immagini [5:48]
Simon Boccanegra
3. Come in quest’ora bruna [6:21]
4. O patria mia [6:42]
La forza del destino
5. Pace, pace, mio Dio [5:24]
6. Son giunta ! Grazie, o Dio! [6:24]
7. La vergine degli Angeli [3:07]
Arrigo BOITO (1842 – 1918)
8. L’altra notte [5:06]
Alfredo CATALANI (1854 – 1893)
La Wally
9. Ebben … ne andro lontana [4:02]
Francesco CILEA (1866 – 1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur
10. Io son l’umile ancella [3:30]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
11. Vissi d’arte [3:07]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867 – 1948)
Andrea Chenier
12. La mamma morta [4:57]
Suor Angelica
13. Senza mamma [4:45]
14. Addio mio dolce amor [3:02]
Fabiana Bravo (soprano)
The Concert Choir and Orchestra of the St. Petersburg National M.Mussorgsky Opera and Ballet Theatre/Charles Rosekrans
rec. at the Leningrad Documentary Film Studio in September 2006
Texts and English translations enclosed
KLEOS KL5149 [72:32]


Experience Classicsonline

Fabiana Bravo was born in Argentina, even though the bio in the booklet doesn’t mention it. Her career has been mainly in the US with frequent excursions to other parts of the world, including numerous performances in Italy, where she also gave a recital for Pope John Paul II. She has been singing at the Met since the 2001/02 season and also appears regularly in Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco. Her professional debut was in Philadelphia in 1996 singing, surprisingly enough, Lucia di Lammermoor opposite Luciano Pavarotti. This is surprising, having heard this disc, which presents a voice that certainly belongs at the opposite pole of soprano repertoire. Hers is in fact that rarity today, a true Italianate spinto voice, vibrant and thrilling and able to challenge a full-size symphony or opera orchestra all the way up to a roaring fortissimo. It is true that she can be a bit unwieldy at times and her phrasing isn’t as smooth as one could ideally wish but the very fact that here is a truly grand voice is compensation enough and she has no problems scaling down and singing beautifully controlled pianissimos.

The programme is evenly divided between some of Verdi’s most demanding soprano roles and a good handful of verismo arias. Most of the arias are old warhorses that every lyric-dramatic soprano within living memory has sung and recorded and comparisons with the great ones can be odious. I have deliberately avoided listening to others but there are some singers, whose interpretations are indelibly etched into my memory: Callas, Tebaldi, Scotto, Maria Chiara for instance. She does not fully measure up to them. Still she has a thrill of her own and while not as polished as Tebaldi she sings with comparable involvement and conviction. Where she falls short, comparatively, is in individuality, in the ability to chisel out portraits that establish independent personalities. The twelve roles portrayed here could just as well be the same character appearing in twelve different operas. It isn’t easy to create distinguishable characters with vocal means alone and in the opera house I would probably have reacted differently. Maybe it is asking too much and the fault lies probably as much in the recital format. It has been said before but it is worth repeating: when a ‘recital’ is made up of longer scenes with other characters besides the heroine the effect is more often than not much more vivid. There are those who have been able to shape personalities in isolated arias – Callas and Scotto certainly. Fabiana Bravo isn’t there yet. Well, in fact she is, in one case: Maddalena di Coigny in Andrea Chenier. There, in the aria La mamma morta, she is a different person from the other one in this recital: the timbre is darker, the tone defiant, she has a face.

Generally she feels more at home in the verismo roles than in Verdi. La Wally, Adriana and Tosca are splendid – in a generalized way. On the other hand, listening to Tebaldi in a number of complete Puccini roles lately I must honestly say that the differences of character were minimal – apart from a hefty Minnie in La fanciulla del West. I also believe that it is unfair to assess a singer in too large doses at a time. Listening for pleasure I often pick one – or two at the most – by a particular singer and then I choose something quite different. It has happened more than once that a singer I gave a lukewarm reception to for a full recital emerged in his/her full glory when sampled. When I return to this recital – and I will – I’m going to listen discriminatingly. Then I will admire her lovely La Vergine degli Angeli from Forza and her sensitive phrasing throughout O patria mia. I will also savour two comparative rarities: Medora’s aria from Il Corsaro and the grand climax of Fidelia’s aria from Edgar with Fabiana Bravo’s vibrant and powerful voice soaring above the combined orchestral and choral forces in a shattering fortissimo.

The Russian orchestra may not be one of the high profile ensembles of the world but like most radio orchestras they are highly professional. The experienced Charles Rosekrans is worth great prize for his eloquent conducting, from the darkly ominous prelude to the Don Carlo aria and onwards. The recording can’t be faulted and with 72˝ minutes playing time one gets a lot of music for one’s money.

Though not yet up among the very best, Fabiana Bravo is a thrilling spinto soprano and this is a worthy calling card.

Göran Forsling 



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