Search - Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Ambroise Thomas :: Mad Scenes

Mad Scenes
Gaetano Donizetti, Vincenzo Bellini, Ambroise Thomas
Mad Scenes
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

This collection features Natalie Dessay in five scenes of coloratura madness -- or near-madness -- by two Italian composers, two French composers, and one satirising American. Soprano characters who go insane are quite a f...  more »

     
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This collection features Natalie Dessay in five scenes of coloratura madness -- or near-madness -- by two Italian composers, two French composers, and one satirising American. Soprano characters who go insane are quite a feature of 19th-century opera, providing composers with an opportunity to write virtuosic and often adventurous music to express the wanderings of the poor heroine's mind. Here, Dessay sings the French version of the Bride of Lammermoor's famous post-nuptial scene. Donizetti's heroine is driven to murder, but Elvira, the bride-to-be at the centre of Bellin's I Puritani, premiered in Paris in 1835, is no particular danger to anyone; her insanity is only temporary and the opera ends happily. Her mad scene, a more conventional operatic construction than Lucia's, features one of Bellini's loveliest fine-spun melodies. Nor is madness terminal in Meyerbeer's Dinorah (1859), set in rural Brittany and notable for featuring a (silent) supporting role for a pet goat. The heroine's delicious `Ombre légère' is the opera's greatest hit and here Dessay performs the extraordinary feat of singing a stratospheric A flat above top C. Far more tragic in its implications is the mad scene of Ophélie from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet (1868), described by London's Observer as "a fiendish set-piece which . . . Natalie Dessay carries off with wondrous aplomb". Poor Ophelia strays through a number of contrasting sections before a vertiginous suicidal finale. Dessay has performed Ophélie in London, Barcelona (available on an EMI Classics DVD) and Toulouse, and she returns to the role in Spring 2010 at the Metropolitan Opera. Fast-forwarding nearly 100 years Dessay takes on Cunégonde in Leonard Bernstein's Candide, based on Voltaire's satirical novel and first staged on Broadway in 1956. This is not quite a mad scene: it starts off with Cunégonde bemoaning her descent into vice, but she cheers up at thoughts of her life of luxury, her near-hysterical coloratura Donizetti, Bellini, Thomas, Bernstein, Meyerbeer reflecting the bubbles in her champagne and the sparkle of her jewels. Recorded live at the EMI centenary concert at Glyndebourne, this performance was welcomed by Gramophone as an "hilarious performance, with Dessay dazzling in the lightest of coloratura".

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CD Reviews

Absolutely Amazing
Classics Lover | 11/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In 2007 I was lucky to go to the Metropolitan Opera opening night to catch Natalie Dessay's epic performance in the Mad Scene from Donizetti's "Lucia de Lammermoor." Ever since then I have been hoping for Natalie to release an album containing this scene. So say how delighted I am that I now own this release is the least of it. Along with "Lucia de Lammermoor," there are five additional spectacular mad scenes. Dessay truly shines in this recording especially in the mad scene of Ophelie from Thomas' Hamlet. I can't wait to see her perform this role this coming spring at the Met."
Crazy good
A. N. Pikarsky | New Jersey | 12/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Dessay is amazing, and this album is sheer perfection.
Be careful if you listen to it while driving, though, as I do. She hits some notes that are so high that packs of dogs will come from nowhere and chase after your car.
"