Subtitled “The Richard Bonynge Edition” this 2002 disc is re-released, digitally remastered and now in SACD hybrid surround sound. It comes too in luxury pack with excellent booklet. Bonynge’s wife was Dame Joan Sutherland and here he conducts another talented soprano from across the Tasman with the Australian orchestra.
Barker has a sweetly vibrant lyric voice, expressive of dramatic emotions. She is heard in some of the most popular arias from Manon Lescaut, Tosca, La Bohème, and Madama Butterfly as well as some lesser-known operas, ending the verismo recital with two little-known Puccini treasures, the graceful songs E l’uccellino and Sole e amore. Passion abounds, as the title promises. Strong characterisation as Mimì, Angelica and Manon particularly impresses.
Highlight: Mimì in full cry (tracks 5-7)