Arias by Bellini, Donizetti and Spontini
Marina Rebeka (soprano); Teatro Massimo Palermo Chorus & Orchestra/Jader Bignamini
Prima Classic PRIMA001 77:57 mins
The Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka has shot to operatic prominence in the past decade, and already has recital discs of Mozart and Rossini to her credit. This new programme focuses on bel canto repertoire, and involved research into original manuscript sources. Rebeka has sung Bellini’s Norma at The Met, and her ‘Casta Diva’ is daringly slow, with plenty of added rubato. Her breath control is good enough to make it work, however, and the roulades are satisfyingly supple and well-supported.
In Imogene’s mad scene from Bellini’s Il Pirata Rebeka’s visceral engagement with the character is copper-fastened to robust technique, the coloratura accurate yet thrillingly combustible. Excerpts from Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda and Anna Bolena, and Spontini’s La Vestale, confirm Rebeka’s formidable intensity and interpretive intelligence. Quiet, interiorised singing is the one thing her performances seem relatively short on – that may be partly a consequence of the quite closely-balanced recording. In many ways Rebeka recalls Callas in this repertoire – the wine-dark chest voice colorations and fearless emotional commitment in particular. A heady comparison, but justifiable given this anything-but-routine recital. A pity there are no texts provided.