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Nino Machaidze: "Romantic Arias"
By Massenet, Gounod, Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini. Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Mariotti. Texts and translations. Sony 88697841742
In her debut recital album, Nino Machaidze proves that she is an artist with confidence, individuality and a big musical temperament.
Amid complaints about the generic nature of singing these days, here comes an artist with confidence, individuality and a big musical temperament to back up a glamorous profile. Nino Machaidze's debut recital disc, a collection of nineteenth-century French and Italian arias, is delivered with excitement and excellently partnered by Michele Mariotti and the Orchestra of Bologna's Teatro Comunale.
The young Georgian soprano jump-started her international career in 2008 with a triumphant success as a late-hour replacement for Anna Netrebko in Salzburg's Roméo et Juliette; here the two arias from Gounod's opera exemplify some fascinating as well as annoying aspects of Machaidze's singing. She uses her darkly colored voice with an appealing wildness, but it occasionally betrays a certain inattention to details. While Juliette's Act IV potion aria, "Amour, ranime mon courage," sounds thrilling in its vocal abandon and dramatic urgency, the giddy "Je veux vivre" is marred by carelessly accented off-beats, rendering the waltz a graceless romp.
Machaidze is an intuitive and natural musician, with enough imagination to animate each track on this disc with a specific dramatic sound. The Italian repertoire shows real polish and flair, and the lyric-coloratura roles of Bellini and Donizetti in particular have been the vehicles for her international debuts (though it was as Gilda that the young singer bowed at the Met, in January 2011). Three big scenes — Lucia's fountain aria, the finale of La Sonnambula and Fiorilla's aria from Rossini's Turco in Italia — anchor this recital.
Mariotti highlights the dark urgency of Lucia's opening scene, affording Machaidze plenty of space for her flesh-and-blood portrayal. In contrast, the fragile murmuring of Amina's "Ah! non credea mirarti" lets the soprano carve and spin phrases with ornamental notes intact and expressive. In Bellini's odd rests that break up the words of "Ah, non giunge," the soprano's audible breaths generate excitement and buoyant energy. The flirtatious Fiorilla gets an oversized grand scena when her husband throws her out of the house, and Machaidze, who has sung Turco in Italia in Los Angeles and Vienna, knows how to pace the structured scene, from letter-reading through accompanied recitative and Mozartean andante into the lively cabaletta.
While Machaidze's voice has plenty of steel, it is attractively pliant and always responsive to the drama. She brings breathtaking simplicity to "Dopo l'oscura nembo," from Bellini's Adelson e Salvini (in a different setting from the one that turns up in I Capuleti e i Montecchi as Giulietta's "Oh quante volte"). With its harp accompaniment and three verses growing in complexity, the piece is a close cousin to the willow song from Rossini's Otello, and Machaidze's dark timbre and melancholy delivery are just right.
High notes can occasionally sound shrill, but this artist knows how to blend delicacy with power in phrasing that always seems spontaneous, for example in Linda di Chamounix's bouncy "O luce di quest'anima." In addition, the delicacy and simplicity she brings to "Adieu, notre petite table" affords a tantalizing glimpse of a potentially great Manon, a role Machaidze has yet to unveil. While her French needs a lot of improvement, she would bring vulnerability and sweetness to the glittery surface of this fascinating heroine.
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