Classic coloratura singing by Dame Joan
Steven A. Peterson | Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL) | 01/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joan Sutherland was one of the wonders of coloratura technique in the 1950s and 1960s. Some say that the 1960s represent the peak of her accomplishments. The cuts on this CD represent that period, so this is Dame Joan at her best. Music ranges from Handel to Bellini to Delibes to Donizetti to Verdi, with Gounod, Piccinni, and Offenbach thrown in for good measure. She was not great on characterization (no Tebaldi, Callas, or Moffo here), but, oh, that voice! Some illustrative examples follow. . . .
She began as a dramatic soprano, so that there is a lot of punch behind her coloratura technique. It is amazing that she exhibits such agility, given that background. "Let the Bright Seraphim" from Handel spotlights that agility, as well as one of the best trills of the past 60 years. While some CDs that feature coloratura singing may end up with excessive ornamentation, ornamentation at some level is di rigueur. And a trill is a key part of the coloratura soprano's armamentarium. Also present on this cut is a command of high notes, precisely hit.
Bellini's opera, "I Puritani," includes a "polonaise," entitled "Son vergin vezzosa" that shows off Sutherland's gifts to good effect. Coloratura techniques, again, are evident. The repeat features increased ornamentation and a clean hit on the final high note. The "Bell Song" from Delibes' "Lakme" is included on this CD. Some stunning trills are featured; again, she hits the notes well, including the high ones. This ends with a nice trill and high notes well done.
Verdi's opera, "Rigoletto," features wonderful music, including ""Gaultier Malde. . .Caro nome," where an innocent is messed around with by a genuine cad. But the music is wondrous, one of Verdi's best tunes. Sutherland hits trill after trill. Well conceived and executed effects. From "La Traviata," also by Verdi, a nice rendering of "Sempre libera." Again, characterization is not her forte; for Violetta, go to others like Renata Scotto and Anna Moffo for that. Once more, trills that are glorious are manifest. An agile voice and well done high notes.
The "Mad Scene" from Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor"? Here is one of the iconic recordings. This was one of Sutherland's genuine "greatest hits." Again, forget characterization and acting; that was never her strength. Listen to the voice and the singing. "Spargi d'amaro pianto," the culminating segment of the "Mad Scene," is absolutely stunning. Trills, runs, high notes cleanly hit, other ornamentation (e.g., appoggiaturas) are exemplary.
I have not listened to Sutherland's work in some time and I had begun to wonder if I had romanticized her skills as I was listening to more contemporary coloratura sopranos singing the same repertoire. However, listening to this CD reassures me that I am not simply some old-timer going into the past. While there is talent today (including the voices of Netrebko, Fleming, Dessay, and others), Dame Joan Sutherland is one of "the real deals" among coloratura sopranos.
Great Sutherland Recordings
(Mr.) N. Sean Wright | Whiteville, NC USA | 08/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For starters, I am not not a die-hard Sutherland fan,
for various reasons not to be discussed here. However,
it's impossible to deny her status as one of the
quintessentially impeccable soprano voices of
recorded history. Many of her recordings are
prototypes of how certain arias "should sound."
Above all, I love her clarion-like vocal presentation.
Her virtuoso trills and technical ability are
hall of fame-worthy.
This CD displays much of her famed vocal
ability. Although, a couple of the tracks
seemed personally out of place for me, several
other tracks are wonderful showpieces of her talent.
"Ou va la jeune hindoue" from Lakme is text book perfect. She lifts the roof about 10 meters on the final E; over a full orchestra! (Outstanding work.) "Il dolce suono" from Lucia di Lammermoor is incredible. Her control of pitch and dynamics are almost frightening. She displays power and vocal grace in equal parts. Her "Casta Diva" is well done, but I can't help but compare it to that of Maria Callas. Sutherland is the soprano
archetype in term of technique, however,
her emotional delivery is not always on the par
with other great sopranos. Nonetheless, the "Casta Diva"
track is still superb and pleasant to the ears.
This is an excellent collection of recordings. I believe that both new and veteran fans of Joan Sutherland will be pleased.
Joan Sutherland in her Prime!! Amazing!!!
C. Warf | Greensburg, KY USA | 07/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joan Sutherland is truly the voice of the twentieth century. Up until hearing this album, I had only heard recordings of her from the 80's, and frankly, I wasnt impressed. I have since learned that she was is her prime in the 60's and early 70's.
Her sound during her vocal prime is so bright and amazing. Her high notes are truly umatched by any other singer, and she has such expresssion. Although her diction is somewhat lacking, she makes up for it in vocal splendor. WOW!
She goes from heavy, bright Verdian arias like Sempre Libera to a light, high aria like the Doll Song. She is truly an amazing vocalist with unparalled vocal versatiltiy.
He sound from the 80's was very covered and her high notes sometiems seemed almost strained. If not strained, they were very small and dainty. While she was in her prime, her high notes were big and bawdy, and thats how us opera folks like it!
If you are looking for a reasonable priced compilation of Ms. Sutherlands finest work, then look no more. This is the one for you. It has excellent recordings of Verdian Soprano arias, Coloratura arias, and lots of Bel Canto vocal fireworks. Her recording of the Bell Song from Lakme is alone worth the purchase. The whole thing is great.