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Bel Canto / Renée Fleming, Patrick Summers, St. Luke's


Release Date: 08/27/2002 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 467101   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Vincenzo BelliniGaetano DonizettiGioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée FlemingKristine JepsonMelanie Feld
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke'sFlorence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The title of this disc ought to have been, to paraphrase Eileen Farrell, "I Gotta Right to Sing Bel Canto". Certainly a voice as purely lovely as Renée Fleming's deserves to be heard in this repertoire, and there's no question that she's got the "Bel" down pat. Ironically, the challenge in this sort of singing lies in knowing when not to settle for mere prettiness of tone, instead finding a way to characterize through the voice, the technique becoming an expressive tool. It's not easy, and Fleming makes her task even more difficult by presenting a recital format that requires her to breathe life into little bits of multiple characters absent the supportive dramatic context of staged performance. So it isn't Read more surprising, perhaps, that this generally impressive recital falls naturally into three categories, which for sake of convenience we can call "affectation", "expression", and "really pretty singing".


Fortunately, "affectation" is limited to the opening item from La sonnambula. Amina is basically a sappy character to begin with, and in "Ah! non credea mirarti" Fleming seems desperate to give herself something to do, imposing self-conscious vocal mannerisms where a basic simplicity of utterance is paramount. However most of the rest of the recital does hit the nail on the head, expressively speaking. When Fleming sings "Il più tenero suon d'arpa morende" from Donizetti's Maria Padilla she offers the real deal, the voice expressing the sense of the text from within the exquisite melodic line. The same qualities apply to Imogene's mad scene from Il pirata (insanity always is a spur to expressive intensity), and best of all to the fabulous final scene of Lucrezia Borgia (check out track 19, from "Figlio!...figlio!..." to the end of the disc for some particularly impressive accompanied recitative followed by a haunting "death" aria).


If the Rossini excerpts are slightly less successful, it's only because Fleming seems more concerned with getting the notes out than with creating character; but get them out she certainly does, and with such lovely tone that you may return to this "Bel raggio lusingher" from Semiramide with considerable pleasure. As for Armida's "D'Amor al dolce impero", in this case the singer is less expressing an emotional state than pointing a moral ("Gather ye rosebuds while ye may," more or less), and Fleming does so as attractively as just about anyone ever has (and let us not forget that this is a role that she has sung on stage and recorded complete, earlier in her career, for Sony).


Throughout Fleming receives sensitive support from Patrick Summers and the Orchestra of St. Luke's (with chorus as necessary), and Decca's sonics capture her silvery sound very sympathetically. Is she perfect? Not quite. Should you care? Not a bit. Fleming remains one of the supreme talents in the world of opera today. She's still testing her boundaries, and this recital conclusively demonstrates that she has a lot to offer in this repertoire.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
La sonnambula: Ah, se una volta sola by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
2.
La sonnambula: Ah, non credea mirarti by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 10 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
3.
Maria Padilla: Abbraciami by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
4.
Maria Padilla: Il più tenero suon d'arpa by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano), Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
5.
Maria Padilla: Ah non sai qual prestigio si cela by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Kristine Jepson (Mezzo Soprano), Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
Il pirata: Overture by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Melanie Feld (English Horn)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
7.
Il pirata: Oh! s'io potessi dissipar le nubi by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
8.
Il pirata: Col sorriso d'innocenza by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
9.
Il pirata: Oh! sole! ti vela by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
10.
Lucrezia Borgia: M'odi! M'odi! Io non t'imploro per voler by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
11.
Lucrezia Borgia: Eglio, figlio! Ola, qualcuno! by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
12.
Lucrezia Borgia: Era desso by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 5 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
13.
Semiramide: Overture by Gioachino Rossini
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 
14.
Semiramide: Bel raggio lusinghier by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
15.
Semiramide: Dolce pensiero by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
16.
Armida: D'amore al dolce impero by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
17.
Armida: Gli augei tra fronde e fronde by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 1 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
18.
Armida: La fresca età sen fugge by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 1 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
19.
Armida: Ah! Sì, godete by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Renée Fleming (Soprano)
Conductor:  Patrick Summers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Florence Maggio Musicale Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Italy 
Date of Recording: 12/1999 
Venue:  Masonic Hall, New York City 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: Italian 

Sound Samples

La Sonnambula / Act 2: Oh! Se una volta sola
La Sonnambula / Act 2: Ah, non credea mirarti
La Sonnambula / Act 2: Ah, non giunge uman pensiero
Maria Padilla - opera in 3 Acts: Abbraciami
Maria Padilla - opera in 3 Acts: Il più tenero suon d'arpa
Maria Padilla - opera in 3 Acts: Ah non sai qual prestigio si cela...
Semiramide / Act 1: Introduzione
Semiramide / Act 1: Bel raggio lusinghier
Semiramide / Act 1: Dolce pensiero di quell'istante...
Il pirata / Act 2: Introduzione
Il pirata / Act 2: Oh, s'io potessi dissipar le nubi
Il pirata / Act 2: Col sorriso d'innocenza
Il pirata / Act 2: Oh! Sole! ti vela di tenebre oscure
Armida / Act 2: D'amor al dolce impero...
Armida / Act 2: Gli augei tra fronde e fronde...
Armida / Act 2: La fresca età sen fugge...
Armida / Act 2: Ah! sì, godete...
Lucrezia Borgia / Act 2: M'odi, ah m'odi, io non imploro...
Lucrezia Borgia / Act 2: Figlio, figlio! Ola, qualcuno!
Lucrezia Borgia / Act 2: Era desso il figlio mio

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