Italian Soprano Arias

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COMPOSERS: Puccini and Verdi,Respighi
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Italian Soprano Arias
PERFORMER: Maria Luigia Borsi (soprano); London Symphony Orchestra/Yves Abel

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The young Italian soprano sets out her stall on this (largely) operatic recital disc. The first item is unusual – Respighi’s Shelley setting of 1914, heard here in its version for string orchestra. It’s a lush, melancholic piece, to which Maria Liugia Borsi’s clean, fresh and fleshy lyric soprano proves well suited, while her sense of intimacy also works well here.

That quality, though, doesn’t always help the individuality of her operatic characters to register: they sound rather too similar. She sounds a laid-back, even passive Madam Butterfly in ‘Un bel dì’, and her Desdemona in the Otello Willow Song and Ave Maria sequence feels equable rather than visited by premonitions of death. Mimì in La bohème goes well, with a nice sense of fragility, but as with some other items Yves Abel’s conducting could do with a greater sense of movement.

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Borsi is well-schooled (her teachers include Antonietta Stella and Renata Scotto) and undeniably promising, her lovely tone at its most fragrant, perhaps, in the atmospheric aria from Catalani’s La Wally. George Hall