COMPOSERS: Catalani & Cilea,Giordano,Ponchielli,Puccini,Verdi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Lisa Gasteen, Singer of the World
WORKS: Operatic arias by Verdi, Ponchielli, Puccini, Giordano, Catalani & Cilea
PERFORMER: Lisa Gasteen (soprano)Queensland SO/Roderick Brydon
CATALOGUE NO: WAL 8033-2 (distr. RRD)
The cover of this recording, in the ‘Voice of Australia’ series, reminds us that Lisa Gasteen is also a winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition (1991). If she has not quite lived up to that title, whatever it means, she has developed into a spinto soprano of considerable power, whose calling cards in various opera houses have included several Verdi roles. So it is not surprising that this portrait disc features Verdi, Puccini and their lesser contemporaries.
As the muddled programme notes do at least remind us, all the suffering heroines represented here meet horrible ends. That is about all they have in common, and what seems to be missing in Gasteen’s singing is more variety of tone colour and greater characterisation. But she is possessed of a strong dramatic voice – not breathtakingly beautiful, but it seldom turns hard or edgy – and she uses it well in her best numbers, such as Elisabeth’s grand farewell to her past, Tu che le vanita’ from Don Carlos and Manon Lescaut’s ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’. Roderick Brydon and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra offer solid and sometimes ardent support. John Allison