Bellini • Donizetti
The Romanian soprano Elena Mosuc takes few prisoners on this bel canto CD. (Despite its title, it’s not just Donizetti heroines since Bellini’s Norma makes a late appearance singing ‘Casta Diva’.) And her singing can be viscerally exciting. Never mind that the plangent woodwind solo which opens ‘Ah dolce guidami…Coppia iniqua’ almost goes for nothing in this final aria from Anna Bolena; Mosuc finds tenderness in the aria and terror in the cabaletta. She maintains an immaculate legato in her softer singing before unleashing a formidable coloratura to end this most difficult of numbers with a gravity-defying top note.
There’s a thoughtfulness about Mosuc’s singing, too, with an exquisite little cadenza in ‘Quando di luce rosea’ from Maria Stuarda, containing an upward inflection in its short melody that perfectly captures Mary’s yearning for forgiveness as she pleads with Talbot. Not all of Mosuc’s characterisation is as elegantly executed: Lucia lacks the essential bruised vulnerability of a young woman driven mad, and her Norma needs to be more high priestess than head girl. Yet the excitement of hearing a dramatic coloratura soprano singing with such intelligence and accuracy generally outweighs such reservations. Would that could be said for the performances by the Orchestra and Choir of Croatian Radio-Television under Ivo Lipanovic – more crashing than smashing.