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Puccini Passion / Barker, Bonynge, Orchestra Victoria


Release Date: 10/24/2006 
Label:  Melba   Catalog #: 301085   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PUCCINI Soprano Arias and Songs Cheryl Barker (sop); Richard Bonynge, cond; Victoria St O MELBA MR 301110 (SACD: 63: 29 Text and Translation)


È l’uccellino. Sole e amore. Arias from Le Villi, Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La rondine, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Turandot


This surely is the first recital of Puccini Read more arias I’ve encountered in which the conductor receives so much of the attention: It is the third disc in Melba’s Richard Bonynge Edition. Nevertheless, it is soprano Cheryl Barker, costumed as Manon Lescaut, who appears on the cover. This is not a new release. It was recorded in 2002, when Bonynge’s wife, Joan Sutherland, still was alive. Melba’s booklet notes have not been updated to indicate that Sutherland passed away in 2010.


Barker, an Australian singer now in her early-50s, studied with Joan Hammond and has had a successful international career. She has been treated kindly in these pages by other reviewers. A few years back I wrote an online review of her DVD of Madama Butterfly , and was quite pleased with her there as well. This all-Puccini CD probably will not disappoint anyone who has been impressed with her so far. She does not sing these arias with the personality of a Callas or the vocal allure of a Tebaldi—who does, these days? Nevertheless, she has a solid, secure voice and clearly knows what she is doing. Her sound is bright and even. She sounds like a young woman. Even her Tosca is less mature than most, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. The only vocal limitation is a bit of a beat on some of her highest notes, but this hardly spoils the positive effect overall.


One example of Barker’s interpretive insight is in Butterfly’s “Che tua madre.” She starts off with a light, conversational tone, exactly as if she were talking to a small child—which she is, of course. Many sopranos forget that this aria is addressed to Trouble. Barker, however, maintains a “motherly” tone of voice, and almost imperceptibly darkens it as she finally becomes lost in the imagined horror of having to return, with her son, to her life as a geisha. The final cry of “Morta!” is genuinely heartbreaking. Barker is an intelligent singer, and her voice, although perhaps not a deeply memorable one, doesn’t let her down and doesn’t prevent her from making the interpretive points she wants to make.


I have not listed the arias she sings in the headnote. None of the “usual suspects” are missing, though, except for Turandot’s arias. (Barker opts for Liù instead, although I feel she might have an interesting and effective Turandot in her.) The two songs are nice additions. Sole e amore shares its melody with “Addio, dolce svegliare” from La bohème , so it is less unfamiliar than you might be thinking.


Bonynge’s Puccini is not revelatory, but it is fresh, and sensitive to Barker’s strengths. The State Orchestra of Victoria (Australia) is completely capable.


The disc is lavishly packaged in a small hardcover book, with a clear plastic slipcase. The packaging is as handsome as the performances.


There probably are too many Puccini recitals on the market. Barker’s is a cut above many of them, and I have no reservations about recommending it to the curious.


FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Reviewing SACD version
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Works on This Recording

1.
Le Villi: Se come voi piccina by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
2.
Edgar: Addio mi dolce amor by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
3.
Manon Lescaut: In quelle trine morbide by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
4.
Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
5.
La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
La Bohème: Quando m'en vo' soletta "Musetta's Waltz" by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
7.
La Bohème: Donde lieta uscì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
8.
Tosca: Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
9.
Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
10.
Madama Butterfly: Che tua madre dovrà prenderti in braccio by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
11.
Madama Butterfly: Con onor muore by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
12.
La Rondine: Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
13.
La Rondine: Ore dolci e divine by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
14.
Suor Angelica: Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
15.
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
16.
Turandot: Signore, ascolta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
17.
Turandot: Tu, che di gel sei cinta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
18.
E l'uccellino by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Italy 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
19.
Sole e amore by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Cheryl Barker (Soprano)
Conductor:  Richard Bonynge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

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