Collection: Verismo Arias

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Alfano,Catalani,Cilea,Giordano,Mascagni,Puccini and Zandonai
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Arias by Alfano, Catalani, Cilea, Giordano, Mascagni, Puccini and Zandonai
PERFORMER: Mirella Freni Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice/Roberto Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 433 316-2 DDD

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For a soprano who made her debut in 1955, Mirella Freni is in remarkably fresh and firm voice. Over the years she has gradually moved from the soubrette roles with which she began her career to the dramatic soprano parts which she now performs with such authority. The great genius of the Italian verismo (‘realistic’) style was, of course, Puccini.

However, he is represented here only by Lauretta’s charming plea from Gianni Schicchi. One or two old war-horses are included on the disc, but for the most part Freni has chosen less familiar pieces, some of which sound more impressive out of their operatic context than others. At her best as Mascagni’s Santuzza and in the title role of the great actress in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Freni nevertheless brings a distinctive touch to every item. She is splendidly accompanied by the orchestra of the Fenice, conducted by Claudio Abbado’s nephew.

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The recording is well balanced, but the playing time is not over-generous: another two or three arias could easily have been included. Charles Osborne