WORKS: Maria Stuarda: excerpts (sung in English)
PERFORMER: Janet Baker, Rosalind Plowright, David Rendall, Alan Opie, John Tomlinson; English National Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 3073 Reissue (1982)
The arguments in favour of staging opera in English are compelling.’ But recordings of Italian works using consonant-heavy translations, especially when they’re as Patience Strong as this one, are less convincing. Despite an impressive supporting cast, the singing is mostly unexceptional on this live recording made at ENO to mark Janet Baker’s retirement in 1982. Of course the sublime Baker is the selling point, and her voice is marvellous. But her portrayal of the doomed Queen is altogether too dignified and well mannered.
Compare the calm with which she sings ‘Shameless daughter of a harlot’, with the venomous way Caballé spits ‘Figlia impura di Bolena’ in her live recording. And some of her coloratura is disappointingly elided. Claire Wrathall