Cilea, Gluck, Mascagni & Saint-Saëns, Mussorgsky, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Verdi: Operatic arias

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COMPOSERS: Cilea,Gluck,Mascagni & Saint-Sa‘ns,Mussorgsky,Rossini,Tchaikovsky,Verdi
LABELS: Telarc
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Dramatic Soprano Voice
WORKS: Operatic arias
PERFORMER: Dolora Zajick (soprano); RPO/Charles Rosekrans
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80557
The trouble with this disc starts in its title, since Dolora Zajick has always been more of a high mezzo than a dramatic soprano. There is nothing wrong with her crossing these sometimes artificial boundaries, but she does so with mixed success, perhaps because her well-schooled voice is not especially individual or equally up to each of the eight composers represented here; in many instances you feel that her strong stage presence would see her through where the voice alone does not.

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At least most of the repertoire here suits Zajick. American of Czech extraction, she came to prominence after success in the Tchaikovsky Competition, and Slavonic music has always featured in her work. She opens this disc with Joan’s famous farewell from Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, sung with feeling even if not much depth. Verdi has been another calling card, and if Eboli’s ‘O don fatale’ lacks character she comes nearer to the mark in Lady Macbeth’s Sleepwalking Scene. Gluck’s Orpheus (sung in French) is stylistically outmoded (the accompaniment is very slow) and Dalila’s ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ is choppy rather than seductive. It is left to Cilea’s Princess of Bouillon to provide some good old-fashioned singing. John Allison