Nino Machaidze: Arias & Scenes
A star presence and an increasingly brilliant vocalist, Nino Machaidze has still some distance to go before she is a fully realised operatic artist. The voice accommodates a range of expression that encompasses the cynicism of Violetta’s Act 1 scene in La traviata and the naivety in ‘O mio babbino caro’ from Gianni Schicchi. Her vocal accuracy is considerably more assured than in her first arias disc (2011) – itself a step above the 2008 live DVD of Roméo et Juliette that brought her to international attention.
However, her diction – good in her lower range but sometimes non-existent in upper reaches – is just one manifestation of some inverted priorities. Technique rules her singing; dramatic concept is revealed only in intermittent flashes. She has certain ways of hitting notes – and does so remarkably – but it’s always her way, as opposed to the character’s way.
Such priorities are less noticeable in La traviata when the notes comprise such a detailed psychological blueprint of the character. With lesser composers such as the Massenet of Thaïs and Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, lack of strong dramatic concept makes the music seem like a succession of theatrical effects. Given the steely personality Machaidze projects, Ophelia hardly sounds mad, just a tad scattered. Machaidze’s vocal default is stentorian – the part of her voice that wears out its welcome in this 60-minute disc by the time she reaches the breezier repertoire such as Musetta’s ‘Quando m’en vò’ from La bohème. Daniele Gatti conducts attentively but without his stamp of artistry.
In the booklet-notes, Machaidze admits that many of these roles are new to her – a questionable tactic considering the benefits of stage seasoning. It’s also possible that she won’t completely come into her own until she gives up high-note repertoire. Might her future lie in the lyrical Wagner roles?