COMPOSERS: Bellini,Donizetti & F&L Ricci,Rossini,Verdi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Bel Canto
WORKS: Arias by Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Donizetti & F&L Ricci
PERFORMER: Sumi Jo (soprano), Octavio Arévalo (tenor); ECO/Giuliano Carella
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-17580-2
Sumi Jo is arguably the pre-eminent coloratura soprano of her generation. Her tone is bright, clear and ringing; her technique exemplary and astonishingly agile. Thrill to her trills; luxuriate in her legato: it’s a mellifluous voice but she can scale those top notes with breathtaking facility, to exhilarating effect and with no trace of brittleness.
The problem with a talent like this, though, is the repertoire on which it encourages a singer to fall back. In her defence, Sumi Jo has explored the wilder shores of French Romantic opera and is an accomplished Mozartian. But this recital is all too familiar: a selection of well-known showpieces from lesser-known operas by Bellini (I puritani, La sonnambula, I Capuleti), Donizetti (Linda di Chamounix) and Rossini (Semiramide, Tancredi), made famous by Sutherland and Callas among other legendary exponents of bel canto. And though Sumi Jo’s performance is pretty well flawless, it doesn’t really add to one’s understanding or appreciation of the arias on offer. Only in the two Verdi pieces – a deliriously enchanted ‘Sul fil d’un soffio etesio’ from the last act of Falstaff and an incandescent ‘Sempre libera’ from La traviata – does she suggest some real sense of character or context. Claire Wrathall