Fiamma del Belcanto

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bellini,Donizetti,Puccini and Leoncavallo,Verdi
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Fiamma del Belcanto
WORKS: Arias by Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini and Leoncavallo
PERFORMER: Diana Damrau (soprano), Nicole Brandolino (mezzo), Piotr Beczala (tenor), Nicolas Testé (bass); Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino/Gianandrea Noseda
CATALOGUE NO: 2564616674

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‘On the one hand, it’s about extreme psychological states’, says Diana Damrau about this disc of Italian repertory, ‘and on the other, it’s a kind of extreme sport for the voice’. Vitally, Damrau manages to combine these two facets of bel canto, a term which for her includes not only Bellini and Donizetti but which also continues forward into the operas of Verdi and even composers of the verismo period like Puccini and Leoncavallo.

In some ways, Damrau is a coloratura soprano of the old school. Her voice is not large like Maria Callas’s or Joan Sutherland’s, but it is ample to requirements, while her technical skills are comprehensive in their excellence. Importantly, she makes something of words, too, in her scenes from Donizetti’s Rosmonda d’Inghilterra and Maria Stuarda, suggesting with the colour of her voice the different characters and their situations. The lyrical Bellini items from I puritani and La sonnambula are beautifully shaped, with her decorations finely executed.

Violetta’s big Act I solo from La Traviata (in which Piotr Beczala contributes the off-stage Alfredo) is not particularly involving, however, though Damrau makes a special moment of the cadenza. If her voice lacks the ideal lyric warmth for either Mimì’s ‘Donde lieta uscì’ or Nedda’s ballatella, she finds the drama of the scene from Luisa Miller, where Nicolas Testé sings the dastardly Wurm. Excellent accompaniments from the Turin musicians under Noseda.

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George Hall