French Bel Canto Arias
Donizetti: Arias from Les Martyrs, Lucie de Lammermoor and La fille du régiment; Rossini: Arias from Le siège de Corinthe, Guillaume Tell and Le Comte d’Ory
Lisette Oropesa (soprano); Sachsischer State Opera Chorus; Dresden Philharmonic/Corrado Rovaris
Pentatone PTC 5186 955 (CD/SACD) 65:13 mins
There seems to be a vogue at the moment for recordings that explore the idea of musical border-crossing. Only a matter of months ago, Benjamin Bernheim released a disc of Italian arias as they were performed in French at the theatres at either end of Paris’s Boulevard des Italiens. Now Lisette Oropesa – who seems to be on a recording roll after her stunning recent La traviata – homes in on how the works of Rossini and Donizetti would have been heard by French listeners. Both composers wrote operas expressly for Paris (among them Guillaume Tell and La fille du régiment), but they also reworked existing Italian operas – often extensively – in order to create new works tailored to French taste (Le siège de Corinthe; Lucie de Lammermoor).
Oropesa finds herself at home both in bel canto repertoire and (as a native of Louisiana) the French language. Her voice is both pure and full-bodied, with an extensive range in terms of both tessitura and characterisation, allowing her to do justice to the many different moods showcased on this recording, from deep emotion to comedy. She approaches the longest of coloratura runs with apparent effortlessness, rising beyond superficial showiness to bring character to each performance. Patriotic and military numbers are approached with energy and élan; soul-searching numbers with generous quantities of pathos. The Dresdner Philharmonie under Corrado Rovaris offer sympathetic, well-shaded support, and informative programme notes by Professor Francesco Izzo round off an appealing package.