Collection: Coloratura Arias from the Golden Age

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COMPOSERS: Amina,Bellini,Gounod
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Vien, diletto; Come per me sereno
PERFORMER: Ruth Ann Swenson (soprano) London Philharmonic/Nicola Rescigno
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54827 2 DDD

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Ruth Ann Swenson is delighting the opera houses of Europe with a voice whose luminous, pearly timbre can find a true lunar beauty for the music of poor Lucia di Lammermoor waiting for her Edgardo, and which can also effortlessly recreate the avian thrills of Marguérite’s vision of the Touraine countryside in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. This recording, made in November 1993, shows that two and a half years ago, though, Swenson still lacked the ability to project the musical passion which fires the vocal pyrotechnics.

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When Linda di Chamounix (Donizetti) says she will live for Carlo alone, we don’t quite believe it and, no matter how skilfully Elvira’s ‘Vien, diletto’ (I Puritani) is embellished, the core of the voice is not convinced that she will die without hope. The first happy song of this disc, Amina’s ‘Come per me sereno’, from Bellini’s La sonnambula, reveals the gentle beauty of Swenson as the lyric soprano of a Euridice and Pamina, though Gounod’s Juliette is carefully observed and prepared, rather than truly gasping with the heart’s and the music’s racing pulse. Those who count the minutes on their CDs should be warned that this has only 52 of them. Hilary Finch