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Loves me … loves me not
Camilla Tilling (soprano)
Musica Saeculorum/Philipp von Steinaecker
Rec. Kulturzentrum, Grand Hotel Toblach, Italy, October 2015
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
Reviewed in stereo
BIS BIS-2234 SACD [65:51]

Since her debut as Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Gothenburg Opera in 1997, Camilla Tilling has had a busy international career and appeared in all the important opera houses and concert venues around the world. Now in her mid-forties she has retained her lyrical soprano in eminent shape and her glittering tone and superb technique are as characteristic as I remember from twenty years ago. I have had reason to admire her singing and interpretative insights when reviewing her three previous CDs for BIS: a Richard Strauss recital, a Schubert recital and a disc with Nordic songs. The new disc features arias by Mozart and Gluck. The lighter Mozart roles have been her bread and butter since the turn of the millennium but the last few years she has also tackled the more mature ladies and here we get both Fiordiligi and la Contessa Almaviva. It is a special treat to hear also the preceding recitatives to the arias, since they add a lot to the understanding of the predicament and personality of the characters. Camilla has a special way of colouring her voice to illuminate important words and her enunciation of the texts is razor-sharp. We hear this very clearly in Ilia’s first recitative, following immediately after the dark and powerful overture to Idomeneo. It is an unhappy woman we meet, torn between the loss of her family and her love for Idamante, who belongs to the enemy. Camilla Tilling uncovers all this masterly in the long recitative and the agonized aria that follows. In the third act the mood is still gloomy but in the beautiful aria Zeffiretti lusinghieri Mozart puts balm on Ilia’s heartache.

Idomeneo is the Mozart opera where the influences from Gluck are most evident, so it is clever programming to have Euridice’s sorrowful recitative and aria from Orfeo ed Euridice immediately after.

After all this misery it is a relief to meet Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, who is happy and deeply in love with her husband to be. Of course there are complications and mishaps in this opera too, but in the end everything is sorted out and in this lovely aria everything is harmony. Camilla Tilling is certainly a natural Susanna, and it is good to have her assumption of the role documented. Even better would have been a complete recording. Hopefully it is not yet too late.

In an interview some years ago Camilla Tilling said that when she first saw Così fan tutte around the turn of the millennium she decided that she would never sing Fiordiligi. But times change and five years ago she felt ready for the challenge. With dramatic intensity, impressive vocal range and glittering coloratura the two arias are among the best achievements on this disc. But her Countess, another role she has added during the last few years, is also utterly winning. Many erstwhile Susannas have stepped up to the Countess when they reached their forties, and Camilla Tilling proves here that it is quite possible to take that step and still retain the youthful freshness a Susanna requires.

Gluck’s Armide is not one of his most frequently performed operas, but nevertheless it contains a lot of exquisite music. Quel trouble is a great dramatic aria, while Ah! Si la liberté is one of his most beautiful creations. Both are welcome additions to the catalogue and makes this disc even more attractive.

Iphigénie en Tauride is somewhat better known but separate recordings of separate arias are scarce and O malheureuse Iphigénie in Camilla Tilling’s moving reading is a worthy conclusion to this wonderful recital. The two priestesses we hear at the very end, Adèle Charvet and Victoria Jung, also deserve a bunch of roses.

The orchestra, Musica Saeculorum, whose musicians are members of leading European ensembles, and meet for several projects every year. Their playing is first class and contributes further to the quality of this disc. The excellent recording, which we have come to expect from BIS, and Julian Rushton’s perspective building liner notes are further assets.

All in all: This is a marvellous disc!

Göran Forsling

Track Listing
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Idomeneo, Re di Creta:
1. Overture [4:37]
2. Quando avran fine omai ... [3:52]
3. Padre, germani, addio ... [3:51]
4. Solitudini amiche ... [0:57]
5. Zeffiretti lusinghieri ... [5:21]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714 – 1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice:
6. Qual vita ... [2:05]
7. Che fiero momento ... [3:12]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Le nozze di Figaro:
8. Giunse alfin ... [1:11]
9. Deh vieni, non tardar ... [3:13]
Così fan tutte:
10. Temerari, sortite... [1:14]
11. Come scoglio ... [4:34]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
12. Enfin, il est en ma puissance ... [2:50]
13. Quel trouble me saisit?... Ah, quelle cruauté ... [4:07]
14. Ah! Si la liberté ... [3:46]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Così fan tutte:
15. Ei parte ... [1:27]
16. Per pietà, ben mio, perdona ... [7:37]
Le nozze di Figaro:
17. E Susanna non vien! ... [1:29]
18. Dove sono... [4:32]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
Iphigénie en Tauride:
19. O malheureuse Iphigénie ... [4:15]