COMPOSERS: C Charpentier,Cilea,Handel,Massenet,Mozart,Puccini
WORKS: Arias by Handel, Mozart, Massenet, C Charpentier, Puccini, Cilea
PERFORMER: ROM Orchestra/Ion Marin (ROH.2001)
CATALOGUE NO: DVB 4 92695 9
This operatic recital, ably conducted by Ion Marin, comes with quite a few extras. Apart from booklet notes, on the disc itself there’s an interview, a discography with audio samples and a photo gallery. The main event, of course, is Gheorghiu’s singing, and in several of these pieces she would be impossible to beat at the present moment. In particular, the Puccini, Cilea and Charpentier items are superbly sung, with absolute technical command and a wonderful range of expressive colour. More surprising, perhaps, is the success of the Handel and Mozart arias. This is not remotely what one would hear from a period specialist, yet the passionate conviction with which she sings them silences criticism.
The most technically demanding piece here is ‘Casta diva’, and, as well as cutting a few corners, she does not seem quite to respond to the spiritual challenge of the piece, which is, after all, a prayer. She can be forgiven some heavily accented English as Eliza Doolittle in one of her encores. The concert itself is perfectly captured, and there are informal shots of the singer in the wings. But how can anyone look so immaculate under that lighting?