Diana Damrau: Forever
Diana Damrau describes this CD as a ‘soundtrack of memory’, which takes her on a very personal journey from Vienna and the operetta arias her grandmother taught her to the razzmatazz of Broadway and on to Hollywood and songs of Disneyland she sings to her sons. The operetta selections are this singer’s natural habitat and there’s no denying the panache and brilliance of her performances. However, there’s little variation in dynamic between the lovely quiet singing, in the middle of Kálmán’s ‘Höre ich Zigeunergeigen’, say, and the full-blown forte that takes us to the fine. In her duet with Rolando Villazón, ‘Lippen schweigen’, Damrau mirrors his style, floating the voice; then, after the hummed section, both artists sing fortissimo. The undoubted highlight is ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ from Die Fledermaus, which is a vocal tour de force.
On Broadway Damrau sings in both German and English, sometimes with interesting results. ‘Green finch and linnet bird’ from Sweeney Todd works well in German; but why sing ‘Wouldn’t it be loverly’ in her native tongue and ‘I could have danced all night’ in English? Sadly there’s no female chorus in this Higgins household offering comforting words to Eliza in vocal counterpoint on the lateness of the hour, nor in Maria’s ‘I feel pretty’, robbing her bridesmaids and us of their rhetorical question, ‘Have you met my good friend Maria?’ She over-interprets ‘A wonderful guy’, Nellie’s carefree waltz from South Pacific, where again the addition of a chorus would have been welcome to her oft repeated ‘I’m in love…’ The first verse of ‘Summertime’ is exquisitely sung; maybe the second verse of this lullaby should speak for itself?
Jason Carr has made a pretty arrangement of ‘Ein Mensch zu sein’ (‘Part of your world’) and offers a big dramatic opening to the eternally fresh ‘Walking in the air’, a song that defies any of the aforementioned categories. Neither of the vocalises which bookend this CD make much of an impression. David Charles Abell and the RLPO offer idiomatic support, hitting the right tempo for each number. So, despite some reservations, there is still much to admire in the enthusiasm and artistry of this talented and versatile singer.