Recordings > Recital

Diana Damrau: "Meyerbeer: Grand Opera"

CD Button Orchestre et choeur de l’Opéra National de Lyon, Villaume. Texts and translations. Erato 0190295849016

Recordings Damrau Meyerbeer Cover 717
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ANYONE WHO HAS EVER had the distinct pleasure of seeing Diana Damrau onstage knows how completely she integrates her physicality into her singing.Even on this stellar recording of soprano showpieces from Meyerbeer’s French, German and Italian operas, Damrau’s immersive performance registers so viscerally you can almost visualize her actions. Take, for example, “Robert, toi que j’aime,” from Robert le Diable. It isn’t just that Damrau is practically in tears on her soft grâce, but some indefinable attribute of her sound makes it easy to imagine her kneeling at Robert’s feet or spinning around in terror. Her shifts in vocal color in “Nun in der Dämm’rung stille,” from Alimelek, oder die beiden Kalifen, evoke an image of Irene wandering in a shaded garden maze and suddenly turning a sunlit corner.

Vocally, Damrau is, quite simply, spectacular. “C’est bien l’air que chaque matin,” from L’Étoile du Nord, with its double flute obbligato, provides an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy the nuanced specificity and sheer beauty of Damrau’s pristine coloratura. In two gorgeous arias from L’Africaine, she traces Inès’s evolution from impetuous conviction to noble hopefulness. In the playful “Ombre légère,” from Dinorah, in which the title character is having a conversation with her reflection, Damrau takes her dynamics down for the shadow’s echo before blithely tossing off a chain of roulades. “Con qual gioia,” from Il Crociato in Egitto, and “Ah questo bacio,” from Emma di Resburgo, are formal, Italianate affairs, fostering a more substantive sound. Marguerite’s grand aria from Les Huguenots moves from silvery to commanding, and the trio and quartet sections, with an assist from Joanna Curelaru, Pascale Obrecht and Pei Min Yu, are precise and well-blended. Damrau also receives able support from mezzo Kate Aldrich, baritone Laurent Naouri and tenor Charles Workman. Emmanuel Villaume expertly leads chorus and orchestra in a performance that reflects and supports Damrau’s electricity.  —Joanne Sydney Lessner 

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