Friday, 22 October 2010
If you were impressed with Vivica Genaux's rendition of Qual guerriero in campo armato, there are plenty more vocal fireworks on show in this selection of arias released in September 2009 with Fabio Biondi. There is a good variety here, some more lyrical arias to offset the rapidfire acrobatics. Watch the video through to the end to hear excerpts from the vertiginous Destin avaro, from La Fida Ninfa, which in Genaux's hands becomes a piece of volcanic poetic force.
(from EMI Classics website)
The balmy lagoon of Venice is a long way from the chill waters of America’s most northern state, but Alaska-born mezzo soprano Vivica Genaux now lives near La Serenissima, and Antonio Vivaldi, the city’s emblematic composer, figures prominently in her repertoire. This album of Vivaldi arias features numbers from a dozen or so operas and includes five arias receiving their first recording. It joins Genaux’s existing Virgin Classics catalogue, which includes recitals of Handel and Hasse, of bel canto arias and a star-studded complete recording of Vivaldi’s Bajazet, with the dynamic Fabio Biondi conducting Europa Galante. Nominated for a Grammy, Bajazet prompted this response from Opera News: “True star status on this recording belongs to Vivica Genaux, whose performance of ‘Qual guerriero in campo armato’ sets what must be the new modern standard for coloratura singing. Her swiftness and accuracy demonstrate why Genaux is the leading interpreter of the music written for Farinelli, the greatest vocal star of the Baroque era.” Describing Vivica Genaux in her trademark virtuoso repertoire, The New York Times observed that: “Her voice is as striking as her looks: less striking, even, for the light, free upper notes or rich chocolaty lower ones than for the runs of coloratura that she releases with jackhammer speed, gunfire precision and the limpid continuity of spring raindrops.” Genaux herself says that: “In Baroque music, what I really like is the interaction between the voice and the orchestra. The orchestra doesn’t just accompany but punctuates what you are saying as a singer, so you have the opportunity of really working closely with the instrumentalists. “There are plenty of pyrotechnics in this recital, but in the sense of using ornamentation to amplify the emotion – so there is rapid coloratura and more delicate ornamentation too. I love working with Europa Galante, and Fabio, being a violinist as well as a conductor, understands that a singer can’t just go on forever on one breath – just as a violinist is limited by the length of his bow.” The Vivaldi expert Frédéric Delamea takes up this theme: “Famed as a virtuoso violinist, Vivaldi divided his artistic life between composing concertos for his preferred instrument and writing operas. It should therefore comes as no surprise that in his stage works he shows a predilection for vocal pyrotechnics, playing the voice and singer like a human violin. Even in the glory days of the castrati, however, he avoided falling into the trap of reducing singing to mere exhibitionist acrobatics. Throughout his career, he took up the pyrotechnic challenge with finesse, deploying an an unrivalled variety of expression and wrapping up the display in a refined orchestral setting that draws direct inspiration from his concertos while also responding to the demands of the drama. “The dazzling arias in this programme – some of which have never been recorded or, indeed, performed in concert – illustrate the different phases and forms of Vivaldian pyrotechnics, exploring every emotion and the most diverse dramatic situations, and continually varying instrumentation, tonality and tempo. The composer of the Four Seasons, flamboyant as ever, sets his unique operatic stamp”.
“Vivica Genaux gives a show-stopping display” - Gramophone on Vivaldi’s Bajazet, Virgin Classics
“Something special happens when she starts to sing – something that sets off a thrill, something that her warm, vibrant tone, razor-sharp diction, boldness of attack and sensational technique only
begin to explain. Genaux has...pizzazz? Élan? Decide for yourself.” - Opera News on Handel’s Arminio, Virgin Classics
“Genaux might be the most exciting singer in the world. Sinewy but lithe, her voice encompasses a wine-rich chest register, juiced up with just enough testosterone to keep things interesting, as well as luminous high notes that would do many a soprano proud. Her Italian is crisp and peppery, and she rips through pages of runs and embellishments with jaw-dropping ease.” - Time Out New York on Bel canto arias, Virgin Classics