Maria Chiara - (The) Decca Recitals

A career that may not quite have hit the heights but a voice to be remembered

Author: 
John Steane

Maria Chiara - (The) Decca Recitals

  • Anna Bolena, ~, Piangete voi?
  • Anna Bolena, ~, Al dolce guidami
  • (I) Puritani, ~, Qui la voce
  • (I) Puritani, ~, Vien, diletto
  • Aida, ~, Qui Radames verrà
  • Aida, ~, O patria mia
  • Mefistofele, L'altra notte
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', Sì. Mi chiamano Mimì
  • Suor Angelica, 'Sister Angelica', Senza mamma, O bimbo
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', Donde lieta uscì (Mimì's farewell)
  • Lodoletta, ~, Ah! il suo name
  • Lodoletta, ~, Flammen, perdonami
  • Manon Lescaut, In quelle trine morbide
  • Turandot, Signore, ascolta!
  • (I) Masnadieri, ~, Dall'infame banchetto
  • (I) Masnadieri, ~, Tu del mio Carlo
  • (I) Vespri siciliani, '(The) Sicilian Vespers', Mercè, dilette amiche (Bolero)
  • Otello, ~, Era più calmo?
  • Otello, ~, Mia madre aveva
  • Otello, ~, Piangea cantando (Willow Song)
  • Otello, Ave Maria
  • Aida, ~, Ritorna vincitor!
  • Giovanna d'Arco, 'Joan of Arc', Qui! qui...dove più s'apre libero il cielo
  • Giovanna d'Arco, 'Joan of Arc', O faticida foresta
  • Simon Boccanegra, Come in quest'ora bruna
  • (La) forza del destino, '(The) force of destiny', ~, Son giunta!
  • (La) forza del destino, '(The) force of destiny', ~, Madre, pietosa Vergine
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, ~, Troppo, signori
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, ~, Io son l'umile ancella
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, ~, Io son sua per l'amore
  • Adriana Lecouvreur, Poveri fiori
  • Andrea Chénier, ~, La mamma morta
  • (L')amico Fritz, Son pochi fiori
  • (L')amico Fritz, Non mi resta che il pianto
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Qual fiamma avea nel guardo!
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Oh! Che volo d'augelli
  • Pagliacci, 'Players', ~, Stridono lassù
  • (La) Wally, Ebben?...Ne andrò lontana
  • (La) Wally, Nè mai dunque avrò pace
  • Loreley, Amor, celeste ebrezza
  • Iris, Ho fatto un triste sogno
  • Iris, Un dì (ero piccina)

The Chiara triptych – the three recital programmes recorded by this admired lyric soprano in the 1970s – is assembled here for the first time. The earliest of its panels centres on the more fragile of Puccini’s heroines but ranges also from Donizetti’s Anna Bolena to Verdi’s Aida. The second is devoted entirely to Verdi, and the third concentrates on the verismo period. Within these few years the singer developed, each recital seeming well suited to her voice and art at that stage. Briefly, we hear a young soprano of rare sweetness and (as it often appeared) exquisite sensibility broadening into a more mature artist with an enhanced dramatic potential, settling then to work within the conditions appropriate to a refined taste and a voice of moderate power. She soon disappeared from the regular record lists, and her career, which lasted well into the 1990s, never blossomed quite as fully as had been expected.

The recordings, carefully made as they were, give hints of why this might have been so, most persistently in slightly flat intonation. There is also in the first two recitals a habit of taking high notes from below. Again, up to the third recital and most marked in the first is a tendency to relax tempo and rhythm, the conductor Nello Santi going along with this all too easily. Sometimes a spurt of energy or a flash of dramatic strength comes into play (as in the Forza del destino aria) but we are then also aware of a naturally slender voice asked to bear overmuch weight. Yet the third recital, with the verismo arias, brings some of the best performances of all: excellent, for instance, are the three arias (La Wally and Loreley) by Catalani. Chiara is a singer who deserves to be remembered, and this collection contains much of the best of her.

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