Arias from – Giulio Cesare; Rinaldo; Semele; Teseo; Alcina; Ariodante; Amadigi; Apollo e Dafne
Danielle de Niese (soprano)
Les Arts Florissants
Recorded in May 2007 in Paroisse Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris
Reviewed by: Kadir Hussein
Reviewed: May 2008
CD No: DECCA 475 8746
Duration: 72 minutes
It is certainly true, as Roger Pines writes in his booklet note, that “it’s impossible to ignore her stunning face and figure”, but the statement that “the excitement really ignites when Danielle sings“, at least for this listener, is not shared.
Danielle de Niese has a very bright tone, with no depth, tending to shrillness. She can certainly approach those daunting Handelian scales with assurance – but so can many other singers of Baroque music. And like many others de Niese has not mastered the trill and what we hear sounds more like a flutter. There is little colour and no variety in her interpretations. Almost all the arias whether slow or fast are sung at the same dynamic level – mezzo forte! Her expression changes very little; her joy is barely different from her anger; her sorrow is not distinct from her yearning.
If the fast arias are reasonably enjoyable, the slow arias show her lack of true legato singing and there is minimal characterisation. She cannot sing a line simply, without distorting the musical line with ‘bulges’, no doubt for ‘expressive’ but ultimately ineffectual purposes. As an object lesson in the mastery of Handelian sustained, elegiac style, I suggest that she listen to Teresa Berganza’s rendition of ‘Verdi prati’ in the complete recording of “Alcina”, also on Decca.
Decca presentation concentrates on Danielle de Niese rather than Handel’s music, but does at least include texts and translations, and William Christie and Les Arts Florissants offer much to relish.