OPERA NEWS - Dorothea Röschmann: "Mozart Arias"
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Dorothea Röschmann: "Mozart Arias"

CD Button Excerpts from Idomeneo, La Clemenza di Tito, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and more. Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Harding. Sony Classics 88875061262

Recordings Roschmann Cover 516
Critics Choice Button 1015

MOZART HAS ALWAYS been central to Dorothea Röschmann’s career, allowing her to showcase her beauty of timbre, innate musicality and probing intelligence as both singer and actress. This demanding program memorably confirms the German soprano’s standing among today’s elite Mozart stylists. 

At the start of her career, as a superbly refined interpreter of Bach and Handel, Röschmann already possessed a tonal depth and warmth quite exceptional in that repertoire. Her voice over the past decade has developed the weight for certain “full lyric” and even spinto roles, yet the buoyancy and lightness for, say, Ilia’s “Zeffiretti lusinghieri” (a highlight of this disc) remain major strengths. She can dart easily through fioriture, and—most important—Mozart’s legato invariably unfolds in her singing with a treasurable naturalness and inevitability.

Röschmann works in detail, meaning that each of these characterizations, line by line, reveals a three-dimensional human being. Take the disc’s three opening tracks, presenting Mozart’s most wildly emotional women. “D’Oreste d’Aiace” reveals Elettra’s fury with all the intensity required, but vulnerability and hurt, for a change, are evident as well. Singing “Deh, se piacer mi vuoi”—a captivating, too-little-known aria, one of the gems of the Clemenza score—the soprano ideally projects Vitellia’s sexy manipulativeness. Also included is that character’s more familiar “Non più di fiori,” in which Röschmann immerses herself totally in this harrowing self-examination, with impressive richness and breadth in her lower register.

One of today’s ranking Countesses (after early-career successes as a delectable Susanna), Röschmann proves exceedingly moving in both “Porgi amor” and “Dove sono,” each with its legato challenges easily met. Proceeding to Donna Elvira, the soprano demonstrates—as in several other arias in this program—her ability to reach the heart of even the most emotionally complex recitativo accompagnato. Elvira has never seemed more conflicted, more deeply human, than in Röschmann’s interpretation, particularly touching in the section beginning, “Misera Elvira.” She sails through “Mi tradì,” mastering the florid sections and all those difficult upward leaps of a seventh to high A-flat, imbuing the whole with palpable anguish.

Following her velvet-toned “Zeffiretti,” Röschmann concludes the disc with a particularly tough concert aria. “Bella mia fiamma, addio” (K. 528) presents a lover’s despairing farewell to his beloved, made doubly vivid here through Röschmann’s sadly eloquent dignity in the accompagnato. In the aria proper, she offers a memorable contrast between aching sweetness in the andante opening and the fiery concluding passages that proclaim the character’s refusal to endure such suffering.

Under the direction of the consistently sensitive and astute Daniel Harding, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra often sounds very much like an original-instrument orchestra in its absolute precision and the bracing clarity of its timbres. Splendid recorded sound, plus a revelatory booklet essay by Dieter Borchmeyer, add to the disc’s pleasures.  

My only little grumble regards the disc’s length—not even sixty minutes. There was more than enough space to accommodate additional arias, such as those of Pamina, Fiordiligi or La Finta Giardiniera’s Sandrina, all of which suit Röschmann ideally. Let’s hope Sony will give us her Mozart Arias Volume 2 —Roger Pines 

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