Dan Ettinger, conductor
If there is a title that faithfully reflect the content of an entire album, Coloraturas is definitely that one. Its stress on “color-s” both in the type and in the dress worn by Diana Damrau on the cover are the best introduction to a pyrotechnical recording, where the German soprano is free to fully express the best features of her singing: first of all, her spectacular coloratura, but also her beautiful voice and a temperament that allows her to characterize every role with a peculiar and lively style.
The selected repertoire ranges from the beginning of the 19th to the 20th century, thus it seems to have no limits in time and place between the chronological extremes represented by Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Bernstein’s Candide.
To be marvellous in every aria you sing is really a difficult task, but this does not seem to trouble Damrau at all. She is enchanting in all the arias thanks to her spontaneous and unmistakable verve with which she immediately makes clear that she not only likes but really enjoys what she is doing. This is often evident, as in Je veux vivre (from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette), in Una voce poco fa (Il barbiere di Siviglia), in O luce di quest’anima (Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix) and in Glitter and be gay (Candide).
Each of these arias is performed with consummate skill and gives full justice to the character: Juliette is lively but a little melancholic, Rosina is a live wire who knows what she wants, while Linda expresses herself with a “crystalline joy” and Cunegonde, according to the reference to “colours” in the title, is flamboyant. The same spirit animates the nice portrait of the page Oscar (from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera), who is extremely witty and charming.
What I said until now is enough to give you the idea of Damrau’s liveliness, but maybe it has not made clear that she is gifted with rare histrionics and that her roles usually exaggerate (in the best meaning of the word) some aspects to be more funny, brilliant or even sad. Coloraturas in fact is not only an amusing recording, but offers some lovely interpretations of mild women as Gilda from Verdi’s Rigoletto and of desperate ones, as Ophélie from Thomas’s Hamlet. Damrau is no less convincing in these roles than in the others and her Gilda (singing the aria Gualtier Maldé!) is a confident and extremely innocent young girl, while the mood swings of Ophélie are portrayed with all their nuances and a deep melancholy.
I would like to remember at last the captivating Zerbinetta from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (singing Großmächtige Prinzessin), which Damrau performs to perfection from the technically and interpretative points of view.
Finally, for what concerns Dan Ettinger, his conduction is usually accurate and fine. However, I have the impression that faster times would have been a better choice in some pieces – but, if this is true for Je veux vivre and Glitter and be gay, it does not affect arias as Großmächtige Prinzessin or A vos jeux, mes amis and then it is not such a bad feature after all.