Ombra Compagna – Concert Arias
Lisette Oropesa (soprano); Il Pomo d’Oro/Antonello Manacorda
Pentatone PTC 5186 885 (CD/SACD) 81:30 mins
Those for whom beauty of sound is paramount in Mozart will find this fine recital particularly alluring. Lisette Oropesa produces a ravishing, seamless legato cantabile, Il Pomo d’Oro (employing a medium-sized chamber band of 23 string players) plays with warmth and affection under a devoted Antonello Manacorda, and the sound-team have gently cushioned Mozart’s sparkling orchestration in an ambient glow, with cocooning reverberation à la chiesa. Tempos are relaxed, articulation on the gentle side, with glowing textures.
Oropesa sings with exquisite emotional restraint, subtly shading her vibrato and colouring her mezzo range with a Schwarzkopf-like radiance and intensity. Those who prefer a more overtly operatic approach to Mozart may find Oropesa a shade understated in the various introductions. In Alcandro, lo confesso, K294, for example, the first of Mozart’s concert arias composed specifically for Aloysia Weber, she encapsulates Clistene’s distress with a compelling sense of emotional continuity, rather than underlining in bold the specific moments of heart-trembling, pulse-racing, reason-abandoning hysteria encompassed in Metastasio’s text.
To hear Oropesa at her finest, try the early(ish) aria ‘Voi avete un cor fedele’, K217, almost certainly composed for a production of Galuppi’s Le nozze di Dorina in 1775. This is an aria featuring two sides of the emotional coin – slow and reflective to convey belief in a lover’s fidelity, fast and virtuosic encapsulating the conviction that he will eventually cheat on her. Where some performances come close to suggesting a split personality, Oropesa segues between the changes in mood with beguiling ease.