Here's your Opera spotlight for April 13, 2013. Each week CBC Radio 2's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera looks at new opera releases and selects one that you'll want to know about.
Artists: Soprano Aleksandra Kurzak with the Sinfonia Varsovia, the Warsaw Chamber Choir and conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi.
Repertoire: Rossini arias.
For Polish soprano Kurzak, singing is a family thing. Her mother, Jolanta Żmurko, was both her teacher and a celebrated soprano herself, while Kurzak's father played french horn in the local opera orchestra. Their daughter has been turning heads since her 2004 debut at both the Met in New York and London's Royal Opera House. On this new disc of Rossini arias, it's easy to hear why she's fêted as one of the greats.
It's a disc that many might treasure as a memory as well, because Kurzak is bound and determined to escape the Rossini stamp on her name by widening her repertoire. "I'm happy to have had this opportunity to record Rossini, because I know that in a few years' time I will be far away from the repertoire."
This disc, released April 9, sizzles. Kurzak has a clear, pure singing voice. Delicate when it's warranted but full of power when she needs to unleash. And she never shies away from the coloratura challenges of Rossini's writing.
Moreover, this is a beautifully recorded album. It sounds present and clear, well balanced between singer and orchestra. And Maestro Morandi and his orchestra tackle an orchestral part that on first glance can seem simple, but is difficult all the more for that perception. They play with precision and passion. The chorus, while used but a few times on the disc, sings with confidence. So many times ingredients like chorus and orchestra can sound weak and under-rehearsed in a disc dedicated to a specific operatic star, but this is not the case here.
The highlight for me is an aria from Tancredi. It demonstrates Kurzak in fine voice, the orchestra supporting her with agility and poise, and a chorus that holds it's own.
LISTEN "Gran Dio! Deh, tu proteggi il mio campion... Giusto Dio che umile adoro" from Tancredi.
TSO with Sondra Radvanovsky
Canadian Opera Company: Tosca
Gershwin as sung by Kurzak and René Pape