I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Oh! quante volte
Benvenuto Cellini – Entre l’amour et le devoir
Louise – Depuis le jour
Les Filles de Cadix
Don Pasquale – Quel guardo il cavaliere
Porgy and Bess – Summertime
Roméo et Juliette – Ah! Je veux vivre; Amour, ranime mon courage
The Old Maid and the Thief – What a curse for a woman is a timid man!
La Bohème – Quando m’en vo
Gianni Schicchi – O mio babbino caro
La Rondine – Chi il bel sogno di Doretta
A Child of Our Time – How can I cherish my man in such days
Nicole Cabell (soprano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Andrew Davis
Recorded 21-30 December 2005 at The Colosseum, Watford
Reviewed by: John T. Hughes
Reviewed: June 2007
CD No: DECCA 475 7661
Duration: 62 minutes
Soon after this CD was released I was in a London record-shop and heard the disc being played. “Depuis le jour” was the piece. My initial impression was that there was a marked throb in the voice: a vibrato wider than it should be. Michael Tanner noticed it when reviewing the disc for “International Record Review”, but two other people who had the CD told me that they had not been aware of it. It was the Charpentier aria that struck me particularly, a supreme test of a soprano’s control of line and steadiness. Hearing it now at home, I am again struck by the pronounced vibrato. I am not averse to vibrato, provided that it is not too wide. The odd thing is that I have heard Nicole Cabell at the Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and St John’s Smith Square and on none of those occasions did I notice excessive vibrato. Nor is it overdone in most of this programme.
Less controversial is the sound of Cabell’s voice: a warm, lyric soprano with a gleam that banishes pallidity. To that can be added facility in surmounting passages requiring agility, with a smoothness in the rising and falling runs in Juliette’s ‘Waltz Song’ or Teresa’s splendid aria from “Benvenuto Cellini”. That she has verve and vivacity is shown in “Les Filles de Cadix”, which she tosses off joyously, as she does the sparkling cabaletta to the ‘Cellini’ piece, in which Teresa says that in time old age will come but now she is only 17 and full of the joys of youth.
The middle tones in “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” are round and rich and there is some shading, although nowhere in the recital is there any really quiet singing. Easily though she sails through “Quel guardo il cavaliere”, one feels that a bit more impishness would hot have come amiss. She does make one feel the anguish of Laetitia in the Menotti opera, who is afraid of going through life without the love of a man: “oh steal me for time’s flight is stealing my youth”, which seems to be a different look at life from Teresa’s above. Juliette’s second aria, as she prepares to drink the potion, is very well done, with Cabell building the climax powerfully. Why are Juliette’s two arias separated by the Menotti?
Some will want a smoother beginning to “Summertime” and even the Tippett aria, though Cabell does convey the emptiness of the woman in vibrant tones. They may also want the recitative in the ‘Capuleti’ excerpt to have been launched more steadily.
Despite strictures regarding wide vibrato and a certain lack of light and shade, much remains to enjoy in this first recital from the winner of the 2005 Cardiff Singer of the World. She has strong support from Sir Andrew Davis and the London Philharmonic and an extremely good recording: one of the best that I have encountered in a vocal recital for ages.