Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Vincenzo Bellini, Gioachino Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti|
Angela Gheorghiu - Casta Diva / Pido
The title Casta Diva tells all. This recital disc shows soprano Angela Gheorghiu reaching out beyond the lyric Verdi-Gounod-Massenet-Puccini repertory in which she made her name and edging into the gymnastic world of color... more »
Listen to Samples
The title Casta Diva tells all. This recital disc shows soprano Angela Gheorghiu reaching out beyond the lyric Verdi-Gounod-Massenet-Puccini repertory in which she made her name and edging into the gymnastic world of coloratura and bel canto--with some measure of success. Her opening number, the eponymous Bellini "Casta Diva," doesn't show Gheorghiu at her best: the sound is hollow rather than serene and just a touch too fluttery in the vibrato to feel comfortable. But in other arias from La Sonnambula, I Puritani, and Guglielmo Tell, she seems on surer ground--though even here, the fioritura can be rushed and swallowed when it needs to be approached with measured confidence. Of course, the technique is there, as are the eloquence and subtlety--but take this disc as a token of things to come rather than evidence of what has already arrived. That way, you'll be pleasantly surprised as opposed to slightly disappointed. --Michael White
Similarly Requested CDs
A taste of things to come
P. Rah | Sion, Switzerland | 08/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I saw this disc, I was very sceptical. Sure, Gheorghiu is a wonderful soprano. But until now, she has focused on Verdi, Puccini, Massenet. Anything BUT bel canto! She is in what I would call 'Callas territory': Sure enough, the disc opens with 'Casta diva'' - Callas was famous for Norma. She sings the notes well, but in regard to the interpretative qualities, it falls. She doesn't convince me fully in the aria, and in the following cabaletta, she exaggerates too much, trying to be too dramatic. Norma is a difficult opera: even Callas said she finds Wagner easier than Norma.
In the other Bellini selections, she fares much better. She digs into the words, giving clear meanings and impressions of clear agaitation, as the drama calls for it(particularly in the Sonnambula aria; pity the finale was not included).
The Rossini selections are wonderful. Of the three composers represented (Bellini, Rossini, Donizetti), she seems to be at home most in Rossini. Her singing in the L'assedio di Corinto is especially moving(listen to 'Giusto ciel!' Her pianissimi are to die for!). 'Una voce poco fa', the only comic representation here, she proves to be a charming comedienne, portraying her Rosina with humour and sharp wit. Her use of words here is impressive again. Right at the end of the aira, where she has a high note, Gheorghiu attacks the note straight - a thrilling spectacle. In fact, I decided to buy the disc, when I listened to the note.
Of the Donizetti offerings, she is more successful in Lucia than Anna Bolena.In the Lucia selection, she gets into the heart of Lucy's character, hinting to the madness that is to follow later in the opera, whereas in the Bolena, she tries too hard again, robbing the music of its simplicity and subtleties- Generally, this is a mildly successful recording. Gheorghiu has some way to go before she is to be fully ready for this repertoire, but as mentioned in the booklet, this will hopefully be 'a taste of pleasures to come'. The LSO and Pido give the most sensitive accompaniment imaginable, and the sound is a winner."
Good starting place into dangerous territory
V. Chau | San Diego, CA | 02/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Angela Gheorghiu is a beautiful woman who happens to have a lovely, dark voice capable of many colors. Her voice is immediately recognizable. She dives head first into this recital of technically difficult and dramatically challenging arias. Some arias are performed superbly. Others need more work. She has good Italian throughout this disc. She is a speaker of the language, so to say that she has bad Italian shows ignorance on the part of the one reviewer who said disparaging remarks about her diction. She does not have intonation problems on this disc. Her "Casta Diva" sounds far too studied and detached. She sounds as if she wants to perform the aria brilliantly in terms of simply pulling it off rather than investing her entire dramatic intelligence into it. The arias from "Guglielmo Tell" and "L'Assedio di Corinto" are performed superbly with a lot of dramatic commitment. Her coloratura throughout is secure, but it does not have the same fluidity that Sutherland and Sills commanded. However, to criticize her good coloratura technique is too narrow-minded. She is not a true coloratura. Keep that in mind. The "Anna Bolena" aria is sung well. The first half is done superbly, but the requisite nostalgia in the second half is missing. She tries, but fails to convince. Her "Una voce poco fa" is sung brilliantly, but without any charm or wit. It is too bad. The arias from "La Sonnambula" and "I Puritani" are sung nicely, but the high E's are not really secure. She needs to work on those notes. She also lacks a real trill. Her "Lucia di Lammermoor" excerpt is good, but Sutherland and Sills have sung it better. Sills also sang it with more convincing emotion. Overall, this disc is a good look at what may come from Gheorghiu in the future in the bel canto repertory."
Bel canto magnificence despite big holes
Joy Fleisig | New York, NY United States | 09/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had originally intended to wait a little longer to review this CD, largely because I like to 'space out' reviews I do of the same artist. However, I couldn't resist the opportunity to wish Angela Gheorghiu a happy 36th birthday and post this review as a present. I also wanted to respond to some earlier reviews that I thought were both unfair and nasty. Admittedly Gheorghiu, probably the greatest Puccini/Verdi/Gounod/Massenet soprano of our time, is not what one would normally think of as a 'coloratura soprano'. Still, if her fioratura doesn't have the machine gun precision of other singers, it's hardly the mess that has been implied by her detractors. More important is how Gheorghiu uses coloratura for emotional expression - it becomes joyful laughter or ecstatic giddiness instead of just musical notes. Gheorghiu's greatest vocal strength, however, is her spinning out of long, beautiful, cantilena lines. Hers is one of the most astonishingly beautiful voices of our time, with the dark glow of a star-filled nebula, a powerful mezzoish bottom and a radiant top. And of course, dramatic fire and total immersion into her characters have always been what makes her so special. Her phrasing, the sadness and vulnerability at the core of her voice (larmes des voix) and the attention she gives to every word she sings is extraordinarily affecting. The title track here is a genuine prayer instead of a diva showpiece. To paraphrase one review, the priestess loves the oak trees as much as the woman loves Pollione. 'Selva opaca' has urgency, nobility and longing as well as stunning high pianissimi on the phrase 'alla calma'. How about a complete recording in French with hubby and Thomas Hampson? 'Qui la voce' has minor mispronunciations (coo-ee), but more importantly, the right air of gentle sadness and astonishing dynamic control. 'Vien, o diletta' is filled with overwhelming joy, and she varies each individual run slightly. Unfortunately, that wailed climactic high E flat absolutely needed another retake. She also strongly emphasizes the weeping quality of 'Ah, non credea mirarti'. Rosina is an interesting choice for Gheorghiu, although I prefer it sung by a true mezzo (she sings in a mezzo key), cheerful and tough like her Adina and definitely not someone who you want to cross in love. By contrast, she makes Pamira's desperate prayer 'Giusto ciel!' (especially the recitative) deeply moving and tragic. I would also like to hear her sing this scene in French. The final scene from 'Anna Bolena', here with the opening 'Piangete voi?' is also a dramatic tour de force. She recorded the aria 5 years ago on her and Alagna's 'Duets and Arias' album, and this shows how much she has grown since. This version is far more expressive with much more individual word painting, undoubtedly helped by slower tempi. No surprise that such a great Violetta is also on her way to a great Lucia, and the 'Regnava nel silenzio' here whets my appetite for even more.Evelino Pido, a bel canto specialist, is a solid, decent conductor and makes a much better impression than he did in the Gheorghiu/Alagna 'L'Elisir D'Amore'. Still, I don't sense the level of rapport between Gheorghiu and Pido that she has with Antonio Pappano or Riccardo Chailly. Both the Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra acquit themselves admirably.The major problem with this disc isn't with what is there but with what isn't. Important cabaletti are missing ('Ah, non giunge' for the 'Sonnambula and 'Coppia iniqua' for the 'Anna Bolena'), and there are internal cuts as well. Also, 'Casta Diva' should have started with 'Sediziosi voci', and 'Qui la voce' with 'Ah, rendetemi la speme'. Because of this, despite Gheorghiu's vocal acting ability and the presence of a chorus, there isn't really the sense, as there is in her 'Verdi Heroines' disc, of these arias as part of complete scenes. This is very unfortunate because so many Rossini interpreters, most notably on the Opera Rara label, are making a real effort to be as complete as possible. I thought that they might have cut the material to make room for the 'Lucia' mad scene, but that is missing as well, a real disappointment, ESPECIALLY as there are almost 20 minutes of blank space on the disc. I think the 'villain' here was lack of recording time. I seem to remember reading that Gheorghiu had to cancel recording sessions due to severe gastritis, and it's quite clear EMI rushed this CD out to coincide with the Gheorghiu's June 2001 concert tour of Britain.The documentation consists of full texts and translations for all the arias with an essay and explanatory headnotes by John Steane. There are also some very striking (and not exactly 'casta'!) glamour shots of Gheorghiu, including a stunning centerfold of her dressed as Norma.I'm extraordinarily sick of the personal attacks on Gheorghiu (and her husband!) posing as 'reviews' that I've seen ever since she became famous. Yes, I've read the 'silly' interviews. I can't help noticing, however, that when her interviewer actually cares about MUSIC instead of clothes, superficalities, gossip and politics and bothers to treat her as the deeply serious artist she really is, Gheorghiu comes off marvelously. She certainly struck me as a wonderful person on the three occasions where I met her. Frankly, I would rather have a great singer who isn't always the perfect politician than some artistic mediocrity who always says the 'right things' to critics!I absolutely hope Gheorghiu eventually starts doing some of these roles on stage. Although I know she has turned down 'Lucia' and 'Sonnambula' because she doesn't find them dramatically interesting, there are still plans for her 'Norma' at the ROH in 2006 or so. I hope she records a disc of mad scenes and eventually perhaps even the 'Three Queens' operas. In the meantime, Gheorghiu's artistic integrity, imagination, dramatic fire, and the sheer beauty of her voice make this CD well worth listening to."