Donizetti, Cilea, Rossini, Wagner, Gounod, Bellini, Verdi, Handel, Mozart, Ponchielli

COMPOSERS: Bellini,Cilea,Donizetti,Gounod,Handel,Mozart,Ponchielli,Rossini,Verdi,Wagner
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Jennifer Larmore
WORKS: Great Operatic Arias by Donizetti, Cilea, Rossini, Wagner, Gounod, Bellini, Verdi, Handel, Mozart & Ponchielli
PERFORMER: Jennifer Larmore (mezzo-soprano); Philharmonia/David Parry
Versatility is the key to mezzo Jennifer Larmore’s success in this English-language programme, as it is in the opera house. She’s top-of-the-range in Juno’s number from Handel’s Semele, while the Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini items all find her spirited and technically faultless. In one or two of the later pieces – the Princess’s aria of hothouse emotion from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, for instance – her voice is sometimes swamped by the accompaniments, which are otherwise securely and idiomatically delivered under David Parry. But Azucena’s ‘Stride la vampa’ from Trovatore is rhythmically spicy, and she’s well up to the formidable challenges of Adriano’s stirring scene from Rienzi. Eboli’s curse on her beauty in Don Carlos is, in theory, at least one vocal size too big for her, but once again Larmore brings it off. And when one hears her in the waltz-song from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, a coloratura soprano showpiece that goes too high for many sopranos’ comfort, then one just has to take off one’s hat. There’s properly eminent sparring partners in the duets, clean and spacious sound, and informative liner notes by Rodney Milnes. George Hall