Nathalie Stutzmann: Quella Fiamma - Arie Antiche
Nathalie Stutzmann identifies a ‘Madeleine’ moment for her in this recording, recalling that Caldara’s ‘Sebben crudele’ was ‘the first aria I worked on’. Doubtless there are more singers out there who would experience the odd Proustian hit from this disc, which samples the three volumes of Italian Baroque opera arias published in the 1880s by musicologist Alessandro Parisotti as Arie antiche. The collection was designed to help train singers in bel canto style, and still does so today, so there will be many for whom these gem-like arias by the likes of Porpora, Durante and Scarlatti will strike a chord of recognition. Parisotti published them with piano accompaniment, of course, and Stutzmann’s project here is to go back to the original sources and restore them to Baroque condition. A long list of orchestrator credits raises slight suspicions that not all have been located, but the sounds are convincing, and the rootling around has even resulted in reattribution of ‘Marcello’s’ ‘Quella fiamma’ to Francesco Conti.
One has to admire Parisotti’s taste, as well as (not the first time) Stutzmann’s rich, wine-dark voice, noble emotional articulation and, when required, flashing virtuosity. Some of these arias are simply ravishing in her hands, from Scarlatti’s touching vignette of wounded love ‘O cessate di piagarmi’ to Cesti’s ‘Intorno all’idol mio’ (sung with a superb close concentration that has you hanging on every word), and from Caccini’s haunting ‘Amarilli mia bella’ to Durante’s infectiously swinging ‘Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile’. At the same time there is no denying that Handel is the giant here, his two arias in a different league of expressive scope and profundity from anything else on the disc; Stutzmann obviously relishes the opportunity to occupy soprano territory in a magnificently moving ‘Ah! mio cor’.
She conducts her Orfeo 55 orchestra with a sure hand, too, though a close-ish balance is less than kind to the strings. But she is the star all right, one of the great baroque singers of our day.