MARINA REBEKA soprano
Massenet’s Thaïs is one of my favourite operas and I particularly enjoy the recording conducted by Yves Abel, with Renée Fleming as Thaïs and Thomas Hampson as Athanael. Thaïs suits Fleming’s voice perfectly and this recording really gets you into the atmosphere without you seeing anything – through her voice, through the sounds of the wind and the desert, you can kind of imagine it all. Abel definitely gets the right approach, and the performance is so touching and sensual.
The mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig is an amazing artist, and I like the way that she interprets Schubert Lieder on her disc with pianist Irwin Gage. Ludwig expresses her personality through the songs. This is not opera, this is not a story – she actually brings herself into those songs. The pianist and the singer also have to be completely together and to bring the same ideas to this music, and I think Gage and Ludwig combine brilliantly, especially in songs such as Gretchen am Spinnrade and An die Nachtigall.
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, conducted by Riccardo Chailly with Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role is perhaps an unusual choice. Why so? Because Kanawa’s voice is not how we would normally think of Manon Lescaut – mostly we think of Manon as a dramatic, full soprano, but Kiri here is instead very feminine. You can feel the lightness in her voice, and somehow it works. I also like José Carreras as Des Grieux. He’s in his best shape and his diction is amazing.
I listen to mezzo Olga Borodina’s Portrait CD to get into the right mood before singing. I love the capacity and colour of her voice, which has amazing shape, and the way she never pushes it. Her voice is like velvet – soft, mild and warm. In the first disc of this double set, she goes for arias where you can admire her coloratura, such as in ‘Nei giardin del bello’ from Verdi’s Don Carlos.
‘Amore fatale’, Marina Rebeka’s new recording of Rossini arias, will be reviewed in a future issue
sublime schubert: mezzo Christa Ludwig tells compelling stories