Elīna Garanča Bel Canto

0 of 5 stars

Lucrezia Borgia – Il segreto per esser felice
L’assedio di Calais – Al mio core
Roberto Devereux – All’afflitto è dolce il pianto
Dom Sebastien, Roi du Portugal – Que faire?; Sol adoré de la patrie
Adelson e Salvini – Dopo l’oscuro nembo
Maria Stuarda – Si, vuol di Francia il rege; Ah! Quando all’ara scorgemi; In tal giorno di contento; Ah! dal ciel discenda il raggio
Tancredi – O patria, dolce e ingrata patria!; Di tanti palpiti
Maometto II – In questi estremi istanti
I Capuleti e I Montecchi – Lieto del dolce incarco; Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio; Riedi al campo; La tremenda ultrice spada
L’assedio di Calais – Io l’udia chiamarmi a Nome; Suon tremendo!; La speme un dolce palpito

Elīna Garanča (mezzo-soprano)

Ekaterina Siurina (soprano), Matthew Polenzani (tenor) & Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (bass)

Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna

Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Roberto Abbado

Recorded November 2008 in Auditorium Teatro Manzoni, Bologna

Reviewed by: Richard Nicholson

Reviewed: May 2009
CD No: DG 477 7460
Duration: 65 minutes



She has begun to take on Italian roles of the bel canto repertory: Rosina, Angelina and recently Romeo (“I Capuleti e i Montecchi”). Her collaboration with Anna Netrebko in the latter opera has been heard at Covent Garden in March and April 2009 and recorded by Deutsche Grammophon.

A short interview with Garanča appears in the accompanying booklet, regrettably in lieu of much-needed notes regarding the sung extracts. In it she discusses the suitability of her voice for bel canto repertoire and its possible extension into the soprano range. On the evidence of this recording she can be justifiably confident of both. The voice is aristocratic in quality and here deployed without apology, in often underrated music.

Amidst much that is unfamiliar here Garanča and Roberto Abbado offer two familiar items in this repertoire, Orsini’s ‘Ballata’ and Tancredi’s ‘Di tanti palpiti’. The former, which opens the recital, is a disappointment, with misjudgements of balance bringing chorus and orchestra brazenly forward, making Garanča sound insubstantial. The mezzo turns a couple of corners rather awkwardly; her trill is brief but authentic. The Rossini piece is much more representative of her talents. Eloquent in the recitative, with every syllable considered and avoiding exaggerations in the arioso, the aria itself is as intimate as a soliloquy should be, the figurations lightly woven, the declamation graded and the intensity only breaking forth at the conclusion. Here as elsewhere Garanča makes the florid writing at the pauses really stand out.

The two ‘Elizabethan’ operas find her excelling in different respects. As the melancholy Sara in “Roberto Devereux” she exploits the potential of her dark timbre for purposes of characterisation. In Elisabetta’s scena from “Maria Stuarda” she differentiates between the two faces of the monarch’s experience, the public embodied in a magisterial delivery of the recitative, followed by wide leaps and pointed accents in the andante, then the private musing in the cabaletta. The reprise is unusually, but suitably, embellished with decorations from the chest register.

Most interesting of the solo rarities is Aurelio’s scene from “L’assedio di Calais”. This opera was intended to represent Donizetti’s claim to being able to write an opera in the French style. The role of Aurelio, originally planned to be for tenor, ended up being written for a female en travesty. The singer’s command of line is conclusively proved as she moves effortlessly across the registers. A clean octave leap from G to G’ followed by a slow chromatic descent at “Come è dolce riveder” is evidence of technical authority; the later successful use of upward and downward portamento is indicative of other competencies essential in this repertoire.

So much for the decorative skills. The range of the voice is equally well displayed. In the aria from “Dom Sébastien” there is no sense of tension above the stave. The tone remains rounded and the top is consistently resonant, no doubt helped by the recording engineers. Garanča is a considerable vocal actress. There is here no support for the strictures of critics who regard these composers as writing to formula. Differentiated characters are portrayed. The helplessness of Nelly in Bellini’s “Adelson e Salvini” underlies her music throughout (later to be used for Giulietta’s ‘O quante volte’ in “I Capuletti”). A fine line is mixed with telling observance of the written accents, culminating in a haunting cadenza.

In “I Capuletti” itself, Romeo’s scena, initially offering conciliation, only to be provoked into belligerence, is vividly handled. The whiplash dotted rhythms of the cabaletta properly reflect his indignation. The singer’s top Bs (unstrained, decorations in the repeat) contradict any stereotype of Bellini as an undramatic composer.

Other distinguished voices join Garanča here and in the intense husband-and-wife duet from Act Two of “L’assedio di Calais”. Here she is partnered by the highly promising lyric soprano Ekaterina Siurina. The work deserves revival.

There is evidence in this recital to believe that Garanča’s career-development may pull her towards the lyric soprano repertoire. She seems to be keeping her options open; after all, sopranos have sung Carmen, and Octavian is arguably better sung by a soprano, as is Adalgisa. In any case, here is a singer who has the technical equipment for music of the bel canto style, an extended range to exploit and a seriousness of purpose to assert the quality of the work she is singing.

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