We are approaching the end of the Puccini year and the steady stream of CD and DVD issues hasn’t abated. The precise day for celebration, Puccini’s 150th birthday, isn’t until 22 December so there is still room for a couple of further issues. Among those in my recent batch the one under consideration introduced me to a new thrilling Italian soprano, having recorded every conceivable aria for her voice, even such rarities as Manon’s little song during the entertainment in the second act of Manon Lescaut and Butterfly’s lamentation in the second act. The disc is a soprano equivalent to José Cura’s recital from the 1990s where he picked everything for his vocal pitch but Amarilli Nizza is one better insofar as she has excerpts from allRead more the 12 Puccini operas. Cura couldn’t possibly sing anything from Suor Angelica – an opera with only female roles.
Milan born Amarilli Nizza isn’t exactly new. She won the Mattia Battistini Competition in 1993 and made her operatic debut the same year in Madama Butterfly and she has appeared at a number of opera houses, primarily in Italy, but also in Tokyo, Berlin and Vienna, where she sang Tosca in 2007. Nor is this her first recording. The discography on her homepage is long and varied, mainly DVDs including the complete Il trittico. Puccini roles are frequent on her agenda, she sang her first Fidelia in Edgar earlier this year and on 29 November (the date of Puccini’s death) at Teatro Regio di Torino she is going to sing it again opposite José Cura. In 2009 she will add Liù in Turandot (at the Arena di Verona) and also Minnie in La fanciulla del West.
Her voice is vibrant, sometimes excessively so, and she has impressive power, the voice production can be slightly uneven and sometimes at climaxes she has a tendency to glare. But she is also capable of divine pianissimos, shown to great effect in the aria from Edgar, and she has dramatic insight. The recital at large is a bit uneven and initially I had a theory that she is better in arias from operas she has in her stage repertoire, but it isn’t consistently that way. Her Manon Lescaut, a role she seems to have added quite recently, is certainly deeply felt with an inward In quelle trine morbide and a jolly glittering L’ora o Tirsi. I can’t find that she has yet sung Mimi in La bohème and Mi chiamano Mimi is marred by a disturbing vibrato but is otherwise a fine reading, while Donde lieta usci is superb in every respect. Musetta’s waltz on the other hand is rather shaky but she makes a fine crescendo- diminuendo on the final note. Her Tosca has feeling but is rather lachrymose; her Butterfly is variable but Con onor muore is definitely one of the best things on the disc. Minnie’s aria from La fanciulla del West is OK without being special and Magda’s aria from La rondine has a somewhat hesitant start but then she excels in cobweb thin pianissimo singing.
The arias from the three one-acters constituting Il trittico were recorded live during one evening as part of complete performances of all three operas and shows her as a fine Giorgetta – with tenor Rubens Pellizzari as a good lyrical Luigi – in Il tabarro, a deeply felt Suor Angelica and a rather unsteady Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with some exaggerated accents. But I suppose this was recorded towards the end of a long evening.
The excerpts from Turandot reveal that visitors to next year’s Arena di Verona can look forward to some real treats, hearing her Liù – Tu che di gel sei cinta comparable to her Donde lieta usci and Con onor muore. She is also quite impressive in the icy princess’s In questa reggia but she shouldn’t be singing that role too often. And she probably won’t – the aria is, I suppose, included to give as full a picture as possible of Puccini’s soprano writing.
The orchestral playing is worthy of the situations and the recording is OK. Playing time is certainly generous and at her best Amarilli Nizza is worthy to be mentioned among the leading sopranos of the day. And even though she is a bit uneven she is constantly thrilling to hear.
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Le Villi: Se come voi piccinaby Giacomo Puccini Performer:
Amarilli Nizza (Soprano)
Ostrava Dvorak Theater Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1884; Italy
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