Marina Rebeka: Amor fatale - Rossini Arias
After a Mozart disc, given a guarded welcome by Richard Wigmore in these pages (Warner Classics, 10/14), the Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka turns to a composer who is something of a speciality. And there’s certainly some mightily impressive singing here as she rattles her way through some of the trickiest arias of the bel canto coloratura repertoire, and does so with a voice that is arguably pushing more towards lirico-spinto territory.
It’s a big, glossy sound, with an evenly produced – and somewhat uniformly applied – lusciousness of timbre. The singing is completely secure, and her coloratura generally impressively accurate, only occasionally losing some focus and tension in the very trickiest passages. That her lovely account of Elena’s ‘Tanti affetti in tal momenti’ is followed by a ‘Fra il padre e fra l’amante’ taken at a slightly cautious tempo might hint at the limits of this part of her technical arsenal (compared with such singers as Joyce DiDonato here, she is a little on the pedestrian side).
She takes no prisoners elsewhere, though, and certainly has a good line in imperiousness as Semiramide and Armida. She’s tireless, too, in the big scene that concludes Maometto II. But the flipside of her security can be a slight lack of characterisation. Her Desdemona is beautifully sung but hardly heartbreaking, for example, and she doesn’t always imbue the coloratura with dramatic purpose. Matters are not helped by a generally muddy way with the words, whether in French or Italian.
Maybe one would mind less had BR Klassik provided texts or translations. Instead we have lengthy, spaciously laid-out biographies (including one for the Munich Radio Orchestra, whose playing for Marco Armiliato is largely excellent). It’s good, though, to have a chorus on hand, as well as a trio of additional singers. They contribute well to a disc that is by any standards an impressive Rossinian calling card from a formidable singer.