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The Very Best Of Mirella Freni


Release Date: 04/22/2003 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 75909   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gaetano DonizettiGiacomo PucciniPietro MascagniFrancesco Cilèa,   ... 
Performer:  Mirella FreniNicolai GeddaMichelle VilmaFranco Corelli,   ... 
Conductor:  Riccardo MutiThomas SchippersLeone MagieraAntonino Votto,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraRome Opera House OrchestraItalian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: n/a 
Length: 2 Hours 30 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here's an entry in EMI's "Very Best Of..." series that--unlike some others--really does include some of the featured singer's very best recordings. Most stem from the 1960s, when Mirella Freni was a hugely talented young lyric soprano, but her polished technique preserved her voice so that even the late recordings of spinto roles show her instrument intact, save for a slight loss of bloom and an occasional beat on sustained notes. Although those heavier Verdi heroines require bigger voices with more tonal depth and greater variety of shadings than Freni could supply, she's an interesting Leonora in La Forza (the "Miserere" and "Pace, pace mio Dio" with Muti), while less impressive as an Aida whose voice is Read more stretched in "O patria mia". Also falling short of her "very best" is "Vedrai, carino" from Don Giovanni, less because of deficiencies on her part than because Klemperer's leaden pacing is a leash no soprano could slip.


But the overwhelming majority of the 28 tracks here show Freni's art at its considerable best. The Puccini items are especially enticing. She's a ravishing Mimi in two arias from the complete 1964 performance led by Thomas Schippers, and arias from La rondine, Gianni Schicchi, and Turandot are almost as wonderful. Tosca and Butterfly are two roles light lyrics wisely avoid, but her 1968 "Vissi d'arte" and "Un bel di" combine vocal magic with compelling projection of the characters' fragility. From a few years earlier comes Traviata's big first-act scene, and unless you insist on Callas' fire, Freni satisfies--the voice is fresh, beautiful throughout its range, "Sempre libera" is thrilling, and Traviata's dilemma is sharply characterized.


Freni's not associated with bel canto roles, but her "Qui la voce" from Bellini's I puritani is well done, if without the spectacular fireworks of a Callas or a Sutherland (but with a firmer line than the latter), and her "So anch'io" from Donizetti's Don Pasquale is delectably perky. Six selections show her adept in French roles, highlighted by a spirited "Waltz Song" from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, notable for its verve, precise articulation, and lovely legato.


Freni is sometimes unfairly overlooked in discussions of post-war sopranos, overshadowed by Callas & Co. and by the lack of a really big role that she, and she alone, "owned"--although her Mimi might qualify. Her virtues were of the less sensational sort: she didn't have Sutherland's nightingale high notes and coloratura facility, Caballé's magical pianissimos, or Price's dusky sexiness. In short, it was hard to pin a label on her. But she did have a voice of uncommon purity, her interpretations were elegant and stylish, she expressed emotions through voice color (not by fussing with the words or sobbing), and she always honored the musical line. This set depicts one of "the very best" sopranos of her time, and it's a worthy introduction to her art. [5/29/2003]
--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Don Pasquale: Quel guardo il cavaliere...So anch'io la virtù by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
2.
La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 
3.
La Bohème: Donde lieta uscì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Thomas Schippers
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Addio..." 
4.
Tosca: Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Leone Magiera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
5.
Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Leone Magiera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 27 Secs. 
6.
L'Amico Fritz: Son pochi fiori by Pietro Mascagni
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
7.
Adriana Lecouvreur: Io son l'umile ancella by Francesco Cilèa
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Ecco! respiro appena..." 
8.
Adriana Lecouvreur: Poveri fiori by Francesco Cilèa
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
9.
Carmen: Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante "Micaëla's Aria" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Length: 5 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "C'est des contrebandiers..." 
10.
Les pêcheurs de perles: Comme autrefois by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Me voilà seul..." 
11.
Manon: Adieu, notre petite table by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883-1884; France 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Allons!" 
12.
Faust: Ah! je ris de me voir si belle "Jewel Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Antonino Votto
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Length: 11 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Je voudrais bien savoir...Il était un Roi de
Thulé..." 
13.
Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre dans le rêve "Waltz Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano), Michelle Vilma (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Alain Lombard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
Length: 5 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: This selection beigins with "Voyons, nourrice..." 
14.
Roméo et Juliette: O nuit divine! by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano), Franco Corelli (Tenor)
Conductor:  Alain Lombard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
Length: 8 Minutes 20 Secs. 
15.
Don Giovanni, K 527: Vedrai, carino se sei buonino by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague, Czech Republ 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
16.
La Rondine: Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Leone Magiera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
17.
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Leone Magiera
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
18.
Suor Angelica: Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Franco Ferraris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Length: 5 Minutes 8 Secs. 
19.
Turandot: Signore, ascolta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Franco Ferraris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
20.
Turandot: Tu, che di gel sei cinta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Franco Ferraris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
21.
La forza del destino: Madre, pietosa Vergine by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Milan,  Italian Radio Chorus Milan
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862/1869; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Son giunta!" 
22.
Aida: Ritorna vincitor! by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
23.
Aida: O patria mia by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "Qui Radames verrà..." 
24.
I puritani: Vien, diletto, è in ciel la luna by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Franco Ferraris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 37 Secs. 
25.
La traviata: Sempre libera by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Franco Ferraris
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Length: 7 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: This selection begins with "O rendetemila speme...Qui la voce sua soave." 
26.
Otello: Piangea cantando "Willow Song" by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Stefania Malagú (Mezzo Soprano), Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
Length: 8 Minutes 29 Secs. 
27.
Ave Maria by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Mirella Freni (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Don Pasquale: Quel guardo il cavaliere...So anch' io la virtù magica
La Bohème (1991 Digital Remaster), ATTO PRIMO/ACT 1/ERSTER AKT/PREMIER ACTE: Sì, mi chiamano Mimì (Mimì/Rodolfo)
La Bohème (1991 Digital Remaster), ATTO TERZO/ACT 3/DRITTER AKT/TROISIEME ACTE: Addio ... Donde lieta uscì al to grido (Mimì/Rodolfo)
Tosca (1968 Digital Remaster): Vissi d'arte (Act 2)
Madama Butterfly (1989 Digital Remaster): Un bel dì vedremo (Act II)
L'amico Fritz (1989 Digital Remaster): Son pochi fiori
Adriana Lecouvreur (1989 Digital Remaster): Ecco! respiro appena ... Io son l'umile ancella (Act 1)
Adriana Lecouvreur (1989 Digital Remaster): Poveri fiori (Act 4)
Carmen (1968 Digital Remaster): C'est des contrebandiers ... Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante (Act 3)
Les Pêcheurs de perles: Me voilà seule dans la nuit...Comme autrefois dans la nuit sombre (1989 Digital Remaster)
Manon (1989 Digital Remaster): Aria: Adieu, notre petite table (Act 2)
Faust (1989 Digital Remaster)
Roméo et Juliette (1994 Digital Remaster): Voyons, nouricce .....Je veux vivre (Waltz Song)
Roméo et Juliette (1994 Digital Remaster), ACT TWO: O nuit divine! je t'emplore
Don Giovanni K527 (1991 Digital Remaster), ATTO SECONDO, Scena prima: Aria: Vedrai, carino (Zerlina)
I Puritani (1989 Digital Remaster): O rendetemi la speme...Qui la voce...Vine, diletto' (Act I)
La Traviata (1965 Digital Remaster): E strano!!.... Ah, fors' è lui ... Sempre libera (Act 1)
La Rondine (1968 Digital Remaster): Chi il bel sogno di Doretta (Act 1)
Gianni Schicchi (1968 Digital Remaster): O mio babbino caro
Suor Angelica (1965 Digital Remaster): Senza mamma, O bimbo
Turandot (1965 Digital Remaster): Signore, ascolta! (Act 1)
Turandot (1989 Digital Remaster), ACT 3: Tu, che di gel sei cinta
La Forza del destino: Sono giunta!...Madre, pietosa vergine
La forza del destino, ACT 4: Pace, pace, mio Dio (Donna Leonora)
Aida (1986 Digital Remaster): Ritorna vincitor!
Aida (1986 Digital Remaster): Qui Radamès verra ... O patria mia
Otello (1988 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO, Prima scena: Mia madre aveva una povera ancella ... Piangea cantando nell'arma landa ... (Emila/Desdemona)
Otello (1988 Digital Remaster), ATTO QUARTO, Seconda scena: Ave Maria, piena di grazia (Desdemona)

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