Marianne Crebassa: Oh, Boy!
'Oh, Boy!’ is Marianne Crebassa’s first album since she signed for Erato earlier this year. The French mezzo, who caused something of a stir in Salzburg, first in Handel’s Tamerlano in 2012, then in Mozart’s Lucio Silla a year later, explores trouser roles in operas by Mozart and by 19th-century French composers, together with ‘Amour, viens rendre à mon âme’ from Gluck’s Orphée in the Berlioz edition. She has a wide-ranging voice, with an appealing tang in her lower registers and a soprano-like brilliance at the top, which allows her to ascend effortlessly to the high C in Urbain’s first aria from Les Huguenots. Her coloratura is superbly fluent and strikingly delivered, one notices, on the vowel sounds in the texts rather than shaded towards ‘a’, as one finds with many singers in this repertoire.
On this showing, however, she is more at ease in her native French than when singing in Italian. This is not to denigrate her Mozart, which is beautiful and spirited, with ‘Pupille amate’ from Lucio Silla wistfully floated and Ramiro’s ‘Va’ pure ad altri in braccio’ from La finta giardiniera delivered with considerable ferocity. It’s just that when she turns to the French repertoire, a stronger imagination and greater depths of verbal subtlety come into play. Urbain’s flippant wit is sharply contrasted with the more caustic humour of the page Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. At the disc’s mid-point come three slow, sad arias, all of them sung with fastidious beauty of line; but the erotic regret expressed by Price Charming in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Fantasio’s slightly crazed contemplation of the moon and Siébel’s shy devotion to Marguérite in Gounod’s Faust all inhabit very different emotional territory. As at Salzburg in 2012, she’s paired with Marc Minkowski, just as much at home in Mozart as he is in the French repertory. There’s some exquisite playing from the Mozarteum Orchestra, too.