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‘Loves me… Loves me not…’
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714–1787)
Arias from Armide, Iphigénie en Tauride & Orfeo ed Euridice
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Arias from Mozart: Idomeneo, Così fan tutte & Le Nozze di Figaro
Camilla Tilling (soprano)
Musica Saeculorum/Philipp von Steinaecker
rec. October 2015 Grand Hotel, Toblach, Italy
Full sung texts with English translations
BIS SACD BIS-2234 [65.51]

This release titled ‘Loves me… Loves me not...’ a collection of eighteenth century arias by Austro-German opera masters Gluck and Mozart, from Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling is concerned with different aspects of love that are encountered in opera. For an operatic heroine love is rarely portrayed simply it’s all too often unrequited or it may be obsessive or forbidden and entangled with loyalty, obstruction, jealousy, treachery or dishonour.

Following study at the University of Gothenburg, Tilling graduated from the Royal College of Music, London and began her international opera career in 1999. Tellingly her operatic repertory has developed progressively to include an increasing range of Mozart roles comprising all the arias contained here, notably a lighter lyric (Susanna), full lyric (Countess), lyric coloratura (Ilia) and dramatic coloratura (Fiordiligi). Demonstrating such steadfast interpretative expertise Tilling seems very much at home with this classical aria collection conveying her fresh and precise soprano voice of real purity that feels in prime condition. Beyond all doubt is Tilling’s utmost sincerity for the texts.

There are three Mozart operas represented here Idomeneo, Le Nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte with arias sung by four characters. My highlights include from Idomeneo Ilia's act I aria Padre, germani, addio. Here Tilling displays her lovely fluid tone with an attractive coloratura as Ilia chides herself for loving Idamante one of the Greek enemy and for betraying her family. From Così fan tutte comes Fiordiligi's celebrated act I aria Come scoglio performed with an abundance of drama and no lack of control as she proclaims loyalty to her absent lover the soldier Guglielmo. Tilling excels in her renowned act III aria Dove sono as the Countess Rosina from Le Nozze di Figaro who is wretched on account of neglect by her husband. Unwavering here is the soprano’s glorious tone so smooth and eminently expressive.

Gluck, Mozart’s older contemporary is represented by three operas Orfeo ed Euridice, Armide and Iphigénie en Tauride with a character from each having an aria. In 2014 Tilling sung the role of Euridice at Salzburg and she certainly shines brightly in this Gluck repertoire. My favourite of these is Iphigénie’s act II aria O malheureuse Iphigenia from Iphigénie en Tauride. This is ravishingly tender singing by Tilling, with lovely oboe accompaniment, as the High Priestess Iphigénie in the Temple of Tauris delivers a lament for her vanished family and homeland. The enchantment continues in the final section of the aria with the choir of Priestesses provided by sopranos Adèle Charvet and Victoria Jung.

Musica Saeculorum under the assured direction of Philipp von Steinaecker is on fine form being especially alert, cleanly articulated with no shortage of commitment. Steinaecker’s awareness with his Italian-Tyrolese period instrument ensemble ensures that Tilling is never fighting against excessive weight or volume. On the opening track Musica Saeculorum delivers the overture from Idomeneo with exhilarating playing infused with a palpable air of mystery.

Thankfully I can report that full sung texts with English translations are provided in the accompanying booklet together with a helpful new essay by Julian Rushton. All the recitatives and arias are allocated an individual track which makes separation easy if required. Recorded at Grand Hotel Toblach in Italy the engineering team for BIS provide good clarity, presence and satisfying balance between voice and orchestra.

The last three decades have produced a number of excellent albums of Mozart opera soprano arias, notably from: Kathleen Battle/EMI, Renée Fleming/Decca, Véronique Gens/Virgin Veritas, Anja Harteros/RCA Red Seal, Sandrine Piau/Naïve, Patricia Petibon/Deutsche Grammophon, Marina Rebeka/Warner, Diana Damrau/Virgin Classics, Sabine Devieilhe/Erato and Regula Mühlemann/Sony. It’s hard to ignore three Mozart collections of older recordings namely from Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Lucia Popp both on EMI ‘Great Recordings of the Century’ and also Elisabeth Grümmer on BR Klassik.

In this superior collection on BIS of Gluck and Mozart arias Camilla Tilling is in quite exceptional voice. This is certainly one of the finest albums of its kind and has my highest possible endorsement.

Michael Cookson
Previous review: Göran Forsling (Recording of the Month)

Track listing:

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
from Idomeneo, re di Creta (1780/81)
1. Overture [4.37]
Ilia's recitative and aria, act I
2. Quando avran fine omai [3.52]
3. Padre, germani, addio [3.51]
Ilia's recitative and aria, act III
4. Solitudini amiche [0.57]
5. Zefiretti lusinghieri [5.21]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
from Orfeo ed Eurydice (1762)
Euridice's recitative and aria, act III
6. Qual vita [2.05]
7. Che fiero momento [3.12]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
from Le Nozze di Figaro (1786)
Susanna's recitative and aria, act IV
8. Giunse alfin [1.11]
9. Deh vieni, non tardar [3.13]
from Così fan tutte
Fiordiligi's recitative and aria, act I
10. Temerari, sortite [1.14]
11. Come scoglio [4.34]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
from Armide (1777)
Armide's recitative and aria, act II
12. Enfin, il est en ma puissance [2.50]
13. Quel trouble me saisit? … Ah quelle cruauté [4.07]
Armide's aria, act III
14. Ah! Si la liberté [3.46]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
from Così fan tutte (1790)
Fiordiligi's recitative and aria, act II
15. Ei parte [1.27]
16. Per pietà ben mio perdona [7.37]
from Le Nozze di Figaro
The Countess's recitative and aria, act III
17. E Susanna non vien! [1.29]
18. Dove sono [4.32]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
from Iphigénie en Tauride (1779)
Iphigénie’s aria, act II
19. O malheureuse Iphigenia [4.15]
with Adèle Charvet and Victoria Jung, sopranos (Priestesses)



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