A beautiful voice has been stilled with the premature death of Deborah Riedel . In the process of assessing this disc for review, I heard the news of her death from cancer. Without sentiment, I have assessed this recording and find it a superb presentation both in the performance and in the CD and booklet presentation. These are indeed vocal treasures ranging from English songs, melodic arias from long-forgotten French and Italian operas, Italian ariettas and an excerpt from a Requiem. According to the notes, written by Richard Bonynge , many of the orchestral parts were copied from old and often illegible scores with the help of Richard Burgess who also orchestrated two of the arias. While he does not credit himself for any of the arrangements, Bonynge has a reputation for reviving and restoring many rare operas and ballets and no doubt his expertise has been dominant in this collection of ‘vocal treasures’.
All 21 arias and songs are sung with that particular warmth for which Deborah Riedel was renowned. During her operatic career she sang many of the ‘big’ dramatic roles such as Tosca, Maria Stuarda, Turandot and Norma. This disc shows a gentler, but no less expressive, side of this accomplished singer. Her last public performances in Sydney were in January 2006 in the role of Turandot in Opera in the Domain and in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony in August 2008. These and this recording, made in July 2007, are her final farewell. It should bring pleasure to anyone who loves beautiful melodies sung expertly with a rich, warm voice.