Melba Recordings

"... a label of fragrant distinction"

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Believe In Love

01/02/2007
Opera Nostalgia (Belgium)
Jan Neckers

This CD definitely is the most unhackneyed recital to have been recorded in 2006, surpassing Fleming's Diva and whatever unknown music Ms. Bartoli has “discovered” to avoid comparisons with her predecessors. I don't doubt for a moment this project was Richard Bonynge's idea. The CD is an example of Melba's (the recording company, not the soprano) policy for making records searching “for talent and individuality in a world where the homogeneous and the mass-produced can become commonplace” as the label states its mission ...
 
[Whitehouse] has a very good agreeable soprano ... [I]n abundance: a good legato (I cannot think that Bonynge would record with a soprano who did not have that necessary attribute), a fine sense of dynamics and a good top ... She sings with conviction and can float her voice like she does in Adriana Lecouvreur. I for one would be glad to hear her in any of the operas these arias come from. Indeed, I very much regret that she was not in the complete recordings of Salvator Rosa, Zazà ... or the brilliant Mascagni operetta Si which really lacks such a fine voice. I like her marginally better in Italian than in French opera. Her Italian enunciation is better and clearer; no doubt as a consequence of the many Italian roles she has under her belt. In French too she has some formidable competitors ... Still, I would gladly exchange my CD-R copies of pirate performances of Cinq-Mars or Etienne Marcel for a professional recording with Miss Whitehouse. Moreover, I may be wrong, but I think the fine (and finely sung) arias from Faccio's Amleto and Gounod's Le Tribut de Zamora are firsts in the CD area.
 
In short, this is the CD any vocal buff would do well to pick up ... here is an exciting repertory and a good voice to go with it. As always, Mr. Bonynge splendidly accompanies his singer and brings out some hidden beauties and fine details in the orchestral score of many a piece. One sighs too if one compares the Victoria Orchestra with the pedestrian sound made by some of the cheap often East-European orchestras employed by Bongiovanni for recordings of neglected verismo.
 
... an important issue [that] deserves to be noticed ...