WORKS: Verdi Heroines: operatic arias
PERFORMER: Angela Gheorghiu (soprano), Tiziana Tramonti, Laura Polverelli (mezzo soprano); Giuseppe Verdi SO Milan/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 466 952-2
The CD cover says it all. Gone are the hearts-and-flowers, folksy outfits. Instead, we have American TV-anchorwoman big hair; and this stunning new disc captures Angela Gheorghiu in some big roles we would not expect her to take into her repertoire at present. Admittedly the results won’t be to everyone’s taste. There is nothing quite like the sound of Leontyne Price or Maria Callas in full-throated roar in the curse at the end of ‘Pace, pace’ from La forza del destino. But once in a while it is refreshing to hear what a more focused voice can do with the earlier part of that aria. Not just the expressive swelling at the start but the wonderfully sculpted phrasing that follows.
Verdi’s gallery of operatic heroines is a marvellously diverse group, but they all share an ardent nobility: in cinema terms, slightly chilly glamour on the outside, all palpitating feminine vulnerability underneath. And it is the bigger, spinto-ish roles on this disc which seem so perfect for Gheorghiu’s vocal temperament. The more lyric ‘Caro nome’ from Rigoletto struck me as slightly mannered and simpering. However, this is a must-have disc and the decision to put Chailly at the helm puts this release into the luxury class. Clive Portbury