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Verismo / Renee Fleming, Marco Armiliato


Release Date: 09/15/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 001327902   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Giacomo PucciniPietro MascagniAlfredo CatalaniRuggero Leoncavallo,   ... 
Performer:  Renée FlemingJonas Kaufmann
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Grammy Award 2010 for "Best Classical Vocal Performance".

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VERISMO Renée Fleming (sop); Marco Armiliato, cond; Saito Kaoru (sop); 1 Lucia Mencaroni (mez); 1 Barbara Vignudelli (sop); 1,3 Mimí Pinson (sop); 5 Paolo Cauteruccio (ten); Read more class="SUPER12">5 Marco Calabrese (bar); 3,5 Annalisa Dessi (mez); 5 Carlos Gomez (bar); 5 Gilles Armani (bar); 2,3,7 Arturo Chacón-Cruz (ten); 2,3,7 Emma Latis (sop); 6,7 Jonas Kaufmann (ten); 4,5 Paolo Cautoruccio (ten); 4,5 Verdi SO & Ch Milan DECCA 001327902 (58:52)


PUCCINI Suor Angelica: Senza mamma, o bimbo. La bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimi; Addio! . . . Donde lieta usci. 2 Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata! Turandot: Tu, che de gel sei cinta. 3 La rondine: Denaro nient’altro che denaro; 1 Ore dolci e divine; Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso. 4 MASCAGNI Iris: Un di era piccina. Lodoletta: Ah! Il suo nome! CATALANI La Wally: Ne mai dunque avró pace? LEONCAVALLO La bohème: Musetta svaria sulla bocca viva; Ma vi chetate! 5 Zazà: Angioletto, il tuo nome? 6 ZANDONAI Conchita: Ier dalla fabbrica a Triana. CILÉA Gloria: O mia cuna fiorita. GIORDANO Fedora: Tutto tramonta. 7 Siberia: Nel suo amore


Aria collections of this ilk aren’t always my cup of tea, but after spending a few hours with this assemblage of famous and not so famous arias from the post-Verdi verismo era, I may have to readjust my prejudices. Renée Fleming has carefully crafted a program of 17 irresistible Italian potboilers, singing them with passion, superb vocal technique, and her trademark creamy legato phrasing. Not surprisingly, Puccini is the source for half of the numbers, and the others are nearly as familiar, with the exceptions of the relatively obscure Alfredo Catalani, Riccardo Zandonai, and Francesco Ciléa.


Fleming is an astonishingly versatile soprano, yet she has largely avoided the big Verdi and Puccini roles. One can only hope that her recently acclaimed Violetta at Covent Garden and this splendid new disc are harbingers of more Italian touchstone roles to come. She easily conjures a wide range of emotions in her portrayal of famous heroines, from the tragic and mournful lament of “Senza mamma” from Suor Angelica to the anguished outcries of “Ah! Il suo nome!” from Mascagni’s Lodoletta . She also includes a fine supporting cast, most notably the ardent tenor Jonas Kaufmann in “Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso” from Puccini’s La rondine . This aria concludes with Fleming soaring high above her fellow soloists, chorus, and orchestra with gorgeous lyrical phrases that will melt your heart.


Fleming’s liner notes about the process of assembling this program are illuminating. She begins with a statement describing the “research” she conducted in preparation for the project, but instead of relating stories of dusty manuscripts or discussions with musicologists, she gives a brief but telling account of picking the brains of some legendary sopranos associated with the literature. More traditional musicological sleuthing is not entirely absent however, as evidenced by the inclusion of the first recording of Puccini’s original manuscript version of “Sola, perduta, abbandonata!” from Manon Lescaut.


At age 50, one might expect her to be a shade past her prime, but there is no evidence of that on this disc. Track after track shows her in remarkable form, with intelligent and heartfelt interpretations, effortless high notes, and a pearly midrange. She has been accused of expressive excess in the form of overwrought glissandos and precious phrasing. I think the criticism is largely unwarranted, and in this repertoire she seems utterly comfortable with the idiom, her inflections consistent with the dramatic context of her heroine’s predicaments.


Fleming sings these treasures as well as anyone active today, and her melding of power, range, flawless legato, and her soulful mastery of the verismo style make this disc a must for opera and vocal fans. Recording quality is outstanding, and the soprano seems to have forged a special link with Armiliato. I was previously unfamiliar with both him and his orchestra, but they deliver the goods with idiomatic flair and no obvious shortcomings. Clearly this is a disc to own and treasure.


FANFARE: Michael Cameron


This is Renée Fleming's finest CD in quite a while. Over the years the voice has remained healthy and beautiful. What has been awry are her stylistic choices: sliding into notes, over-emphasizing phrases, singing everything--from bel canto to Tatiana--with Verismo mannerisms; that is, in the style of late-19th and early-20th-century opera that underlined "truth" in feelings and situations. Well, here she sings as much as she can like a Verist, albeit with a voice that does not really have what it takes.

This is not a criticism; it's an observation. We encounter no stylistic or emotional faults. But Verismo sopranos will make ugly sounds if they have to for dramatic effect, and Fleming's voice just doesn't "do" ugly. True Verismo sopranos tend to have a more prominent grain to their tones and Fleming's continues to be creamy.

Not all of these arias can truly be called "Verismo": neither Suor Angelica, Magda, Liu, nor Mimi express themselves with the near-hysterical emotionalism that is so beloved of the Verists. Nevertheless, as Magda in Rondine, Fleming is lovely, both in the quartet for four women's voices and the second-act double-love-duet (with Jonas Kaufmann as luxury casting as Ruggero). Mimi's first aria is well-drawn with a nice Puccinian blossoming on the top notes; her Liu is sweet and sad; Angelica is angelic. Use of portamento could not be more apt. Fleming gives Manon Lescaut's "Sola, perduta...", here presented in its longer, original version, the desperation it requires. Both excerpts from Leoncavallo's La bohème are charming, but hardly what we think of when we think of Verismo.

With Lodoletta or Iris (in Mascagni's operas of the same name) we need the sort of over-the-top dementia that so pleases opera lovers. Fleming works Iris' mania well, with fine emphasis on the middle voice and a whopping high B to top it all off, but it doesn't make you want to jump off a building the way Magda Olivero's performances of the aria do. Lodoletta's "Flammen, perdonami" is moving and deeply felt, but if you recall Mafalda Favero's recording, there is a frenzy present that is not out of place and Fleming doesn't have it. Fedora's death scene is superbly done but could have been even more maudlin.

The rarities here are very valuable. A lengthy scene from Zaza, in which the heroine meets the young child of the married man she loves (with the child's part spoken sweetly and innocently) is intensely moving, with Zaza's predicament clear and tragic. Similarly, Conchita's tale of how she toyed with the affections of three men who followed her the previous day makes us wish to hear more of Zandonai's opera. Throughout, Marco Armiliato and the Milan forces provide fine support and elegant playing. The supporting singers are all quite good.

To sum up: Fleming pulls out all the stops and this CD will please her fans. But is she a Verismo soprano? No--she's a soprano who sings Verismo arias handsomely, with great art and emotions on display. But if you're expecting a bunny to be a tigress, you may be disappointed.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suor Angelica: Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
2.
Iris: Un dì era piccina by Pietro Mascagni
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898/1899; Italy 
3.
La Rondine: Ore dolci e divine by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
4.
Lodoletta: Ah, il suo nome by Pietro Mascagni
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
5.
La Wally: Ne mai dunque avro pace by Alfredo Catalani
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Italy 
6.
La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
7.
La Bohème: Musetta svaria sulla bocca viva by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; Italy 
8.
La Bohème: Mimì Pinson la biondietta by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; Italy 
9.
La Bohème: Donde lieta uscì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
10.
Zazà: Angioletto, il tuo nome? by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Italy 
11.
Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
12.
Conchita: Ier della Fabbrica by Riccardo Zandonai
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1911; Italy 
13.
Gloria: O mia cuna fiorita by Francesco Cilèa
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907/1932; Italy 
14.
Fedora: Tutto tramonta, tutto gilegua by Umberto Giordano
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; Italy 
15.
Turandot: Tu, che di gel sei cinta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
16.
Siberia: No! se un pensier torture...Nel suo amor by Umberto Giordano
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903/1921; Italy 
17.
La Rondine: Bevo al tuo fresco sorriso by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Jonas Kaufmann (Tenor)
Conductor:  Marco Armiliato
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Verismo? October 28, 2013 By Janet P. (Coldstream, BC) See All My Reviews "One reviewer commented that this wasn't truly 'Verismo' because 'Verismo' was gritty and real, sometimes that just wasn't pretty, and Renee Fleming can only sing beautifully. I am a serious fan of many different styles of opera, and I found this to be an excellent CD - even, at times, gritty and real, and all together beautiful!" Report Abuse
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