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Anita Rachvelishvili (mezzo-soprano)
Coro del Teatro Municipale di Piacenza,
Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Della RAI/Giacomo Sagripanti
with Barbara Massaro (soprano)
rec. 2017, Auditorium Rai di Torino ‘Arturo Toscanini’, Turin & Opéra national de Paris, Palais Garnier, Paris
Full sung texts and English translations provided
SONY CLASSICAL 19075808752 [53:57]

The opportunity to review Tbilisi-born Anita Rachvelishvili’s debut solo album released on Sony Classical is an assignment hard to resist. The Georgia mezzo-soprano’s big break came when she was chosen by Daniel Barenboim to take the title role in Carmen alongside Jonas Kaufmann as Don José. She is now an acclaimed Carmen; a look at her schedule shows that since her debut in the role at La Scala in 2009 Rachvelishvili has gone on to sing it more than three-hundred times at houses including New York, the Metropolitan and Covent Garden. In addition, Rachvelishvili is in demand for the role of Princess Amneris in Aida, notably singing the part at Opéra National de Paris and La Scala, Milan. I especially enjoyed Rachvelishvili’s performance as Amneris in William Friedkin’s 2015 production of Aida at Teatro Regio Torino which I reviewed on C Major Blu-ray. In August this year, Rachvelishvili gained wider international exposure by partnering tenor Jonas Kaufmann in an all-Italian programme at Berlin’s open-air Waldbühne concert.

Rachvelishvili’s collection, mostly of staples from the mezzo-soprano repertoire, comprises fourteen arias from nine, mainly Italian and French operas and a single work each in Georgian and Russian respectively.

Concerning her signature roles, unsurprisingly, a pair of arias from Carmen is included but, curiously, nothing from Aida. In what is undoubtedly the rarest aria, the Cavatina of Queen Tamar from Georgian composer Dimitri Arakishvili’s opera The Legend of Shota Rustaveli, Rachvelishvili acknowledges her Georgian heritage. A highlight is Santuzza’s aria “Voi lo sapete, o mamma” from Cavalleria Rusticana, a role in which Rachvelishvili has made her debut in Rome since this recording was made. She expresses peasant girl Santuzza’s pain of rejection by Turiddu very convincingly. Carmen’s entrance aria is the famous Habanera, sung here with such freshness, adeptly communicating the heroine’s sultry and seductive character. In the aria “Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix”, where Delila is attempting to seduce Samson into divulging the secret of his strength, Rachvelishvili sings with tenderness and allure, revealing a lovely tone to her high register. In Princess Eboli’s renowned Veil Song from Don Carlo, Rachvelishvili demonstrates admirable vocal control of the challenging ornamentation, which doesn’t come at the expense of her captivating tone. Although this programme was recorded over several sessions, notable throughout is the elevated consistency of Rachvelishvili’s firm yet attractive, dark hued-tone in these outstanding performances.

Recorded at Auditorium Rai di Torino and Palais Garnier, Paris, Rachvelishvili benefits from impressive sound quality that has clarity, plenty of body and satisfying balance. Hugo Shirley’s booklet essay contains just the right proportions of information and accessibility. I am pleased to report that full sung texts with English translations are provided in the booklet. My only quibble is with the relatively short playing time of fifty-four minutes.

Anita Rachvelishvili gives compelling performances in this Sony collection, demonstrating why the Georgian mezzo-soprano is in such demand on the opera stage.

Michael Cookson

Previous review: Margarida Mota-Bull

Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Act I: Près des remparts de Séville (Seguidilla) - Carmen [2:04]
Act I: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera) - Carmen, chorus [4:14]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Samson et Dalila
Act I: Printemps qui commence - Dalila [5:37]
Act II: Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix - Dalila [5:19]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Il Trovatore: Act II: Condotta ell'era in ceppi - Azucena [4:33]
Don Carlo
Act II: Veil Song: Nei giardin del bello - Eboli, Tebaldo, chorus [4:15]
Barbara Massaro (sop): Tebaldo
Act IV: O don fatale - Eboli [4:16]
Jules MASSENET 1842-1912)
Werther: Act III: Je vous écris de ma petite chambre (Letter Aria) - Charlotte [7:00]
Dimitri ARAKISHVILI (1873-1953)
The Legend of Shota Rustaveli: Cavatina of Queen Tamar [2:23]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
The Tsar's Bride: Act I: Lyubasha's Aria: You will pay [4:26]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Voi lo sapete, o mamma - Santuzza [3:01]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Sapho: Act III: O ma lyre immortelle - Sapho [6:50]


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