COMPOSERS: Bellini/Rossini/Donizetti
WORKS: Casta Diva: arias
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorghiu (soprano); ROH Chorus, LSO/Evelino Pidò
Donizetti created the archetype of all bel canto heroines from Walter Scott’s Lucy Ashton who ‘weaved her enchanted web of fairy tissue, as beautiful and transient as a film of gossamer, when it is pearled with the morning dew, and glimmering in the sun’. Angela Gheorghiu’s essentially lyrical soprano ideally suits this fragile, simmering sensibility and she has all the technique for when it boils over into a frenzy of coloratura madness. She suggests the mounting hysteria as Lucy (Lucia) recounts the tale of the ghost by the fountain; when she says of Edgardo ‘he is the light of my days, the comfort of my pain’ she captures the desperation of someone losing their grip on reality and in the following cabaletta she hints at the neurosis and incipient madness behind the trills and roulades. If Gheorghiu does not have the same dramatic range as Maria Callas, neither does she have you bracing yourself for each high note. Her timbre with its dark shadows and fast, tremulous vibrato is just right for these highly strung girls, half in love with easeful death. The one comic number, from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, shows that she can play the sly minx, too, with perfect comic timing. Evelino Pidò coaxes a sensitive and idiomatic accompaniment from the LSO in this stunning disc.