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Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre [3:56]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Rigoletto: Caro nome [7:09]
Un Ballo in Maschera: Voltea la terra [2:05]
Saper vorreste [2:19]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Ariadne auf Naxos: Grossmächtige Prinzessin [12:34]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Il Barbiere di Siviglia: Una voce poco fa [6:45]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Rake’s Progress: Quietly night [9:10]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro [2:38]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Linda di Chamonix: O luce di quest’anima [5:45]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)
Hamlet: A vos jeux, mes amis [14:41]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Candide: Glitter and be gay [6:57]
Diana Damrau (soprano)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Dan Ettinger
rec. Bayerischer Rundfunk Studio 1, February 2008, June 2009
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5193132 [73:59]

Experience Classicsonline

Diana Damrau is a great soprano, but this recital does not show her off at her best. In fact it represents a missed opportunity on a number of levels. The main problem for me is the colour of the voice as it is here captured: too often here she sounds brittle and edgy. She is not helped by a recording which spotlights her to excess, bringing the voice right up close and lessening any blend with the orchestra. Her character portrayals aren’t great either. She shows very little of the innocence and youth needed for figures like Juliette or Gilda: instead she comes across as knowing and even a little ironic, which doesn’t suit arias like Caro Nome or Je veux vivre at all. In the latter her French pronunciation is rather gaspy which doesn’t get the disc off to a good start. Likewise Puccini’s Lauretta sounds like a barely restrained fire-eater rather than an affectionate daughter. That’s an interpretation you can get away with if you build it into the complete opera, but it doesn’t work nearly as well for one aria in a recital. Rossini’s Rosina is especially disappointing. The bel canto requirements of this part should be right up Damrau’s street, but the excessive brightness of the recording make her sound effortful and shrill, and the ornamentations, which seem to draw attention to themselves for their own sake rather than illuminating the character, are poorly chosen. The higher key adopted for her soprano register doesn’t help either.

All is not lost, though. Ironically the character with which Damrau seems to sympathise the most is the deranged Ophelia, investing her mad scene with ethereal beauty that is quite uncanny, and when it comes to sheer vocal fireworks Damrau can’t be touched in roles like Zerbinetta or Bernstein’s Cunegonde. Verdi’s Oscar suits her voice better too - perhaps it is his extrovert character. The leaps of Voltea la terra and the louche Tra-la-las of Saper vorreste come off very well, as does the semi-comedy of the role. The finest track is Anne’s Quietly night from Stravinsky’s Rake. The eerie instrumentation of the night garden strengthens the edgy uncertainty that creeps into Damrau’s voice and her I go to him carries determination but also nervousness as she ascends to her closing top C.

As its title suggests, this disc is fine as a display of coloratura, but Damrau is capable of so much more and by her high standards this disc is inconsistent and unnecessarily disappointing.

Simon Thompson





























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