This week, I was pleasantly surprised to find an envelope from La Cieca in my mailbox. Inside I found two contrasting CDs of soprano arias, one of Verdi and the other of Mozart. As someone who thinks Verdi is the greatest composer who ever lived and who feels pretty meh about Mozart, I expected to love the Verdi and be bored by the Mozart. I wasn’t far wrong.
The first CD is Krassimira Stoyanova singing Verdi arias. The program is as follows:
- “Ritorna vincitor” from Aida
- “D’amor sull’ali rosee” from Il trovatore
- “O fatidica foresta” from Giovanna D’Arco
- “Morrò ma prima in grazia” from Un ballo in maschera
- “Tu puniscimi, o signore” from Luisa Miller
- “Teneste la promessa… Addio del passato” from La traviata
- Tacea la notte” from Il trovatore
- “Non pianger, mia compagna” from Don Carlo
- “Pace, pace mio dio” from La forza del destino
- “Tu che le vanita” from Don Carlo
- “Salce” and “Ave Maria” from Otello
My first impression the first time through was that it’s the right voice for this rep but there didn’t seem to be much drama.. .nothing seemed to be at stake for any of the characters. Listening for the second time, though, I must say, I’m finding nuances I missed the first time. Ms. Stoyanova has excellent control of her instrument so that she’s able to display good dynamic contrasts and she can float a lovely line above the staff. Also, like Moffo’s, there’s a certain innate plangency to the voice that works well in this rep.
The Aida selection is lovely but in the “D’amor sull’ali rosee,” her trill is passable but no more. However, the aria is beautiful. She opts to skip the high D flat in the cadenza and she sings the cadence come scritto rather than up the octave. I rather like the high option in the cadenza so I was a little disappointed.
She does a beautiful job reading the letter in the Traviata but misses an opportunity for drama on the words “e tardi”. I kept thinking of the exceptionally dramatic reading of Violetta by Ileana Cotrubas on the recording with Domingo and Kleiber. Her plangent tone serves her well in the “Addio,” though.
I only wish that she had been a little more adventurous in her choice of arias. All but two of the arias are standard, the two exceptions being the Giovanna D’Arco and the “Non pianger, mia compagna.” I would have enjoyed hearing sing selections from, say, Alzira, Il corsaro, and I masnadieri. But all in all I really enjoyed this album, and she is someone I’d like to hear a lot more of. She is accompanied by the Munchner Rundfunkorchester ably conducted by Pavel Baleff.
The other album, the Mozart, features a singer I’ve heard of but never heard, Marina Rebeka. Our very own John Yohalem pointed out in a review of Rossini’s Mosè that her coloratura reminded him of Christina Deutekom. I dare anyone to listen to this album of Mozart arias and not think of Deutekom as well. In spite of that, I really enjoyed this album.
She says in the liner notes, “Mozart is a world apart, a world of huge variety, of different personalities… “ and certainly sings a wide range of Mozart characters, covering both Queen of the Night arias and Pamina’s aria, “D’Oreste, d’aiace” from Idomeneo, the countess’s two arias from Nozze, and even “Martern aller Arten!” By and large, the album is beautifully sung. She has a lovely voice and uses it well for the most part,and when the role demands it such as Elettra from Idomeneo, she can be quite dramatic. (This piece seems to lay a little high; she can get a little shrill in this aria.)
The final selection on the disc is the Entführung and as in the other selections with coloratura, her Deutekomness (a word I just coined) surfaces. I went to YouTube to see if she sings coloratura like that all the time and the answer seems to be yes. I enjoyed this album but with reservations.
My biggest question is whether oes she sing any of his music better than any other singers currently performing this rep and I would have to say that no, there are other singers who sing all of this stuff better. Is she bad? No. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to hear her.
On the other hand, I would definitely choose to spend an evening listening to Ms. Stoyanova.