ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Angela Gheorghiu Live from Covent Garden
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorghiu (soprano); ROH Chorus & Orchestra/Ion Marin
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57264 2
Sopranos don’t come starrier than Angela Gheorghiu, and this live recital is a fabulous showcase for her considerable talents. The programme combines very familiar showstoppers – ‘Un bel dì vedremo’, ‘Casta diva’, Liù’s suicide – interspersed with arias that allow her transfixing dramatic talents to shine: the tremulous little sobs that conjure her heartbreaking farewell to Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon; the swooning girlish rapture of Charpentier’s ‘Depuis le jour’. That her old-fashioned, over-voluptuous and richly ornamented Handel (‘Lascia ch’io pianga’) and Mozart (‘Porgi amor’) don’t come off as well is perhaps a matter of taste. But the ‘encores’ more than make up: a sensational extract from Tiberiu Brediceanu’s 1936 folk opera La seceris, all gypsy violins and heartfelt emotion; and an impenetrably accented, but nonetheless winning ‘I could have danced all night’.
But there is one serious caveat. The night this brief concert was recorded at Covent Garden, the audience was justifiably effusive. But clapping is tedious to listen to and an irritant if you cannot participate. Track 1, entitled ‘Applause’, consists of nothing but – 32 seconds of it. Thereafter each number ends with 20-30 seconds’ cheering. In total there is five minutes’ applause – almost 10 per cent of the playing time, leaving barely 45 minutes of music. EMI: we know she’s good; we don’t need to be so relentlessly reminded.