Anne Sofie von Otter - Opera Arias
For the sake of both vocal and family well-being, Anne Sofie von Otter has always followed the wise course of self-rationing in opera. This disc, an entirely personal selection of arias from the Viennese classical period, accompanied by period instruments, means all the more to her including, as it does, arias sung by dramatic and passionate women “most of whom”, von Otter admits in the accompanying notes, “I have never performed on stage and, alas, probably never will”.
They include La clemenza di Tito’s Vitellia whom von Otter has irresistibly observed in her own role as Sesto: here she at last voices her guilt at implicating Sesto in her crime of passion, and expresses that unique fusion of sadness and desperation of “Non piu di fiori” in the eloquent company of Colin Lawson’s basset-horn. And then Gluck’s Alceste, again keenly observed by von Otter in a comprimario role. Her lyric mezzo is perfectly suited to that grave, Gluckian passion of “Non vi turbate”.
Gluck’s Orfeo is, of course, familiar to von Otter at first hand, and here The English Concert’s introduction to the accompanied recitative which precedes “Che faro” creates exquisitely the “nuova serena luce” of the Elysian fields against which von Otter’s grief, affectingly ornamented, is the darker, the more plangent.
The Mozart arias evoke memorable stage and concert performances by von Otter: a Cherubino whose phrasing combines with that of the wind soloists to create the warm breath of tender burgeoning sensuality in “Voi che sapete”; a Cecilio (Lucio Silla) whose coloratura captures the thrilled anticipation of that “tenero momento”; and a moustachioed Ramiro (La finta giardiniera) who pays ecstatic cantabile tribute to the power of love.'