OPERA NEWS - Ilona Domnich: Surrender: Voices of Persephone
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Ilona Domnich: Surrender: Voices of Persephone

CD Button Nucci, baritone. Southbank Sinfonia, Over. Texts and translations. Signum Classics SIGCD419

Recordings Domnich Cover 1215

ILONA DOMNICH SHOWCASES her bewitching soprano in a collection of arias built around her lifelong interest in mythology. When Domnich’s parents divorced, she found comfort in the tale of Persephone, mythical child of the ultimate separated parents (Demeter and Hades), who ultimately owns both familial lines as the goddess of the underworld and rebirth. Whatever the conceit that led to this particular collection, Domnich needs no excuse to spin forth her candied, multifaceted soprano. The arias were chosen to represent the archetypal journey of women: girlish fantasies of love, the taste of passion’s highs and lows, and the wisdom gleaned from life experience. The arias are not organized into groups, however; they are presented haphazardly, which, in addition to being more musically varied, is a truer representation of personal growth, which tends to be nonlinear. 

Domnich is at her most intriguing in the more lyrical selections, especially those a little less popular. She brings a wistful longing to Jacqueline’s aria “Lorsque je n’étais qu’une enfant,” from André Messager’s Fortunio, which features some exquisite pianissimos. From Puccini’s La Rondine, she chooses not “Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta” but the less famous “Ore dolci e divine,” which she delivers with sensual vocal caresses. Snegurochka’s aria from Rimsky–Korsakov’s opera is meltingly beautiful, but Domnich proves able to access a bitter edge in Elle’s “Tu as raison. Si, je t’écoute,” from Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. She offers the Rosinas of both Rossini and Mozart, but in reverse order, with “Dove sono” preceding “Una voce poco fa.” Presented thus, the younger Rosina’s declaration of rebellion becomes absorbed into the abandoned Rosina’s recollection of happier days. Domnich’s coloratura in the Rossini seems more studied than lit from internal fire; “O luce di quest’anima,” from Linda di Chamonix,is more spontaneously joyful, and Manon’s “Je marche sur tous les chemins” more shimmering. Domnich also presents an overview of Gilda, beginning with a “Caro nome” that’s more earthbound than dreamy. Veteran baritone Leo Nucci joins her for a “Tutte le feste” that shimmers with burgeoning love, bringing out Rigoletto’s fragility as he underpins her soaring line. Their rendition of the final scene stems naturally from the relationship they created in the first, and Domnich is moving in Gilda’s death throes. The Southbank Sinfonia, under the baton of Simon Over, plays with precision and passion. —Joanne Sydney Lessner

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