Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 - 1848)
La Favorite
L’ai-je bien entendu? ... Ô mon Fernand! [8:25]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835 - 1921)
Samson et Dalila
Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix [6:15]
Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 - 1893)
Orleanskaya deva (The Maid of Orleans)
Da, čas nastal! ... Prostite vï, khlomi, polya rodnïye [6:26]
Charles GOUNOD (1818 - 1893)
Ou suis-je? ... Ô ma lyre immortelle [7:55]
Faites-lui mes aveux [4:21]
Nicola VACCAI (1790 - 1848)
Giulietta e Romeo
Oh, vista è dessa! ... Ah! se tu dorm, svegliati! [5:45]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803 - 1869)
La Damnation de Faust
D’amour l’ardente flamme [8:51]
Edouard LALO (1823 - 1892)
Le Roi d’Ys
De tous côtés j’aperçois dans la plaine ... Lorsque je t’ai vu soudain [6:30]
Charles GOUNOD
La Reine de Saba
Me voilà seule, enfin! ... Plus grand, dans son obscurité [6:14]
Elina Garanča (mezzo)
Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna/Yves Abel
rec. Salone Bolognini, Bologna, March 2012
Texts and translations in English and German enclosed
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 0071 [60:42]
Still only in her mid-30s Elina Garanča has behind her an international career of more than a decade. She made her debut recording as early as 2001. After her tremendous success in Carmen at the Met - issued on DVD two years ago - she now turns to other mostly French repertoire from the 19th century. Donizetti was Italian but La Favorite was originally in French, even though it has regularly been performed in Italian. I have long regarded Fiorenza Cossotto’s recording of this aria - from the complete set with Pavarotti, Bacquier and Ghiaurov - as definitive but now she has to be relegated to the second place, since Garanča sings it so marvellously. Her voice is in superb shape and she seems to have added further volume. She still regards herself as a lyric mezzo and has no desire to take on Amneris and Eboli, according to her notes in the booklet. That’s a wise decision. Cossotto sang those roles quite early in her career but hers was a much more dramatic voice.
Dalila’s aria is also marvellous: beauty of tone, exquisite legato and romantic glow, yet a certain restraint. Seductive the aria should be but not overwhelming. Garanča avoids the blustery chest-notes that some mezzos try to swamp Samson with. The chest-notes are also largely absent from Ioanna’s aria from The Maid of Orleans but there is no lack of romantic glow even so. Sapho’s Ô ma lyre immortelle and Siebel’s Flower song from Faust are also superb and so is the real rarity here, Vaccai’s Giulietta e Romeo. This opera was written in 1825 to a libretto by Felice Romani, who five years later revised the text for Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. When Maria Malibran sang Romeo in the Bellini opera in 1832 she wasn’t too impressed by Bellini’s final scene and incorporated the Vaccai aria, something that was regularly done also in the future by other singers. And since it is a good aria it would be interesting to hear something else from this composer, who wrote almost twenty operas but is remembered today mainly as a voice teacher who wrote books on singing technique that are still in use.
Of D’amour l’ardente flamme from La Damnation de Faust I also have a couple of old favourites: Janet Baker and Frederica von Stade. Now it seems that they have to share the laurel with Elina Garanča, whose singing is even richer and more gorgeous.
Lalo’s Le Roi d’Ys was enormously popular during the late 19th century and early 20th century - it was premiered in May 1888 but was written a decade earlier - but since WW2 it has more or less disappeared. However, there have been three complete recordings, the latest from 1988 with Delores Ziegler and Barbara Hendricks among the soloists, and some years ago there was also a DVD from Opera Royal de Wallonie (see review) that is worth seeking out. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask Elena Garanča to record Margared’s role in a complete set. La Reine de Saba is another rarity. Gounod’s music is as sweet as one could expect, but it is not without something bittersweet to make it more sustainable, and Elina Garanča relishes the hyper romantique mood.
Yves Abel draws fine playing from his Bologna forces and the disc is without doubt a candidate for my Recording of the Year.
Göran Forsling
Without doubt a candidate for my Recording of the Year