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Elīna Garanča (mezzo-soprano)
Jennifer O’Loughlin (soprano) (track 4)
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Roberto Abbado
rec. June 2016 Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, Spain
Full sung texts and translations provided in English, Italian French and German
Track listing at end of review DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 5937 [61.09]
By my reckoning ‘Revive’ is Elīna Garanča’s fifth album for the famous yellow label.
Today all albums seem obliged to have a theme and Revive is no exception. Here the Latvian mezzo-soprano has chosen principally French and Italian repertoire concerning “the emotional storms and destiny’s force, raging in the lives of opera’s strong women.”
Usually associated with bel canto roles Garanča has not generally performed verismo operas and certainly no Verdi but feels it is opportune to explore some of the heavier, dramatic mezzo-soprano territory with its great female characters of Romantic repertoire notably Hérodiade from Massenet’s Hérodiade, Laura from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, Princess Eboli from Verdi’s Don Carlos and Dalila from Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila. The accompanying promotion material describes this as “big Diva repertoire.” These are not all mezzo-soprano roles as Garanča is able to travel smoothly into dramatic soprano terrain with roles such as Santuzza from Cavalleria rusticana, a verismo opera and Marina from Boris Godunov. Indeed Garanča is to play Santuzza and Eboli for the first time onstage at the Paris Opéra with Cavalleria rusticana in November/December 2016 and Don Carlo in 2017.
It’s certainly a mouth watering fourteen aria programme and Garanča has chosen a combination of several appealing rarities as well as great audience favourites. The recital gets off to a flying start, with Garanča clearly relishing the role of Mascagni’s Santuzza with Voi lo sapete, o mamma sung with liberal amounts of passion. Not surprisingly it’s the mezzo’s favourite aria in the collection. Gloriously melodic, Garanča and Cilea are a heady combination. Sending a shiver down the spine with her surges of emotion, Garanča in Io son l’umile ancella, Adriana’s aria from Adriana Lecouvreur is ravishing, demonstrating lovely control of the climax. Another genuine highlight is Mignon’s aria Connais-tu le pays from Thomas’s Mignon with tender singing full of introspection as she reminisces about her former home. These are remarkably consistent performances by Garanča and the only arias which I feel don’t carry the same appeal are Didon’s Je vais mourir from Les Troyens and Marina’s Aria Skushno Marina! from Boris Godunov and that is likely down to personal taste. Blessed with remarkable ability to convey emotion with her words Garanča has a divine voice, rich and weighty yet smooth and secure, although some arias would benefit from additional vocal colour. Under the baton of Roberto Abbado the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana resident orchestra at Opera Valencia is in impressive form playing with style, verve and ideal levels of expression.
An example of best practice the accompanying booklet provides a highly informative essay by Garanča titled ‘Strong women in moments of weakness’ and full sung texts with translations provided in English, Italian, French and German. Satisfying recorded sound from the Opera Valencia being clear, immediate and well balanced.
With Elīna Garanča extending her reach into dramatic repertoire ‘Revive’ is a captivating album that keeps providing pleasure.
Track Listing Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
1.Cavalleria rusticana: “Voi lo sapete, o mamma” [3.38] Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
2. Adriana Lecouvreur: “Acerba voluttà, dolce tortura … O vagabonda stella d’Oriente” [4.14] Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
3. Les Troyens: “Ah ! Ah ! Je vais mourir … Adieu, fière cité” [6.45]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
4. Don Carlo: “Nel giardin del bello” [4.44] Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
5. Samson et Dalila: “Samson, recherchant ma présence … Amour, viens aider ma faiblesse” [4.06] Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
6. Boris Godunov: Marina’s aria “Skučno, Marine … Kak tomitel’no i vyalo” [4.09] Francesco CILEA
7. Adriana Lecouvreur: Adriana’s aria “Ecco: respiro appena … Io son l’umile ancella” [3.38]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
8. Hérodiade: “Venge-moi d’une suprême offense ! … Ne me refuse pas” [6.35]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)
9. Mignon: Mignon's aria “Connais-tu le pays” [5.46] Giuseppe VERDI
10. La forza del destino: “Rataplan, rataplan, rataplan” [3.02]
Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)
11. Giaconda: “Ho il cuor gonfio di lagrime … Stella del marinar!” [2.44]
12. Werther: “Va ! Laisse couler mes larmes” [2.47]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
13. La bohème: “È destin, debbo andarmene … Marcello mio” [5.52]
14. Henry VIII: “Reine! je serai reine!” [3.07]