Rossini Colbran the Muse: Opera Arias

Joyce DiDonato is on thrilling form in these devoted dedications to Colbran

Author: 
John Steane
Rossini Colbran the Muse: Opera Arias

Rossini Colbran the Muse: Opera Arias

If this repertoire had appeared in recordings of the 1930s, there would have been only one singer eligible for comparisons: Conchita Supervia. Nowadays there are so many, it is almost invidious to name Bartoli, Kasarova and Garanca as outstanding. Still one other, of the intermediate period, Frederica von Stade, must be added as she comes to mind most often during the course of this recital. And it must be said that the sadness and sense of foreboding which she infused into her voice in the "Willow Song" from Otello are not matched in the nevertheless very sensitive performance here by Joyce DiDonato. Nor, to return to the starting-point, is the tang and challenge of Supervia, both in voice and expression. But more than enough remains.

DiDonato is proving herself one of the most delightful artists of our time. She sings with a rare purity of tone, ease on the high Bs, an impressive degree of technical skill and lively powers of characterisation. She is invigoratingly precise in her placement, fluent in scale work and well furnished with staccati and trills. Ideally I would prefer the well articulated triplets (Berganza, for instance, managed this) to be sung legato rather than with the notes lightly separated as they are here; and I suppose one could wish for a greater range of colouration in the lower register. But the difficult repertoire is sung with charm and mastery, and from all we read, their original exponent, to whom the recital is dedicated, is worthily honoured. Choral and orchestral work are equally stylish, and the short tenor solos by Lawrence Brownlee are a treat.

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