Puccini: Arias from Edgar, Gianni Schicchi, La boheme, Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Madame Butterfly, La Rondine & Tosca

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Puccini
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Angela Gheorghiu – Puccini
WORKS: Arias from Edgar, Gianni Schicchi, La boheme, Manon Lescaut, Turandot, Madame Butterfly, La Rondine & Tosca
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorgiu
Milan Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra
Anton Coppola
CATALOGUE NO: 557 9550

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The sumptuous packaging of this

release is, happily, matched by its

contents. Angela Gheorghiu delivers

some of her finest singing, but then

Puccini has always been one of her

special strengths.
 
Opening with

Butterfly’s ‘Un bel dì’, the Romanian

soprano shows again why – despite

the circus she has been known to

generate – she is essentially a serious

artist possessed of one of today’s great voices.
 
An instantly recognisable one,

too, thanks to her vibrant tone and

communicative relish of text.

Apart from Il tabarro, every one

of Puccini’s operas is represented

here; Tosca scrapes in on a bonus

single CD of her ‘Vissi d’arte’ from

the Pappano recording.
 
No soprano

can possibly capture the full essence

of all Puccini’s heroines at once, so

although it is logical to end with

Turandot’s ‘In questa reggia’ it’s

not quite the artistic climax of this

enterprise; but the colouring she

brings to Liù’s farewell raises that

to tragic heights.
 
If she is by nature

more of a Musetta than a Mimì,

she evokes both characters

beautifully, and in the early Edgar

she overlooks the vampish antiheroine

in favour of Fidelia’s

sincerely projected innocence.
 
She

sets up a fruitful partnership with

the young Milanese orchestra and

veteran conductor Anton Coppola,

who errs only by indulging her

in ‘O mio babbino caro’ – more

like an encore than part of an

unfolding story.

 

Otherwise, too

many jewels to list, but Magda’s

famous number from La rondine,

one of Puccini’s freshest creations,

and Manon Lescaut’s magnificently

heartfelt arias top the billing. John Allison