Diana Damrau, soprano
Le Cercle de l’Harmonie
Jérémie Rhorer, conductor
Virgin Classics, 2008
Mozart Donna: the Programme
The arias composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have been one of the thread though which Diana Damrau’s career has developed. She made her debut as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro in 1995. Then, Damrau came into the limelight in 2003 with her performance of the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. This was to become one of her signature roles for the next years. Also Damrau’s debut recording had something to do with Mozart. Leaving aside for the moment the project of a Meyerbeer album (which was realized in 2017), Arie di bravura is equally divided between Mozart and Salieri operatic arias.
The next recording, which is the subject of the present review, is instead completely Mozartian. It collects thirteen arias from some of the operas written by the Salzburg composer. There is also a couple of arias Mozart composed for Aloysia Lange when she sang in Pasquale Anfossi’s opera Il curioso indiscreto. As Damrau points out in the booklet, her «voice and career have developed in ways that have allowed me to sing two or more characters from the same operas», so that in Mozart Donna it is possible to listen to Susanna next to the Countess or to Donna Elvira after Donna Anna.
Mozart Donna: Overview
If there is an album which is a continuous pleasure for the ears, Mozart Donna is definitely that album. Diana Damrau combine a sound technique and one of the loveliest and most expressive voices that have sung Mozart in the last decades. Her temperament suits perfectly each of the heroines to whom she gives voice – a homogenous, radiant voice with unmistakable colour and wit. Damrau’s singing has at the same time strength and lyricism. Her abandon to music is always balanced by the most attentive and intelligent choice of the accents, by her smooth phrasing and pyrotechnical coloratura.
It is a pity that this collection does not include at least one of the two arias of the Queen of the Night (but you will find them in Arie di bravura), but the tracklist is not disappointing. It allows Damrau the right balance between virtuosity and expressiveness. In this way, next to the agility of Aspasia (Al destin che la minaccia), to the taxing Donna Anna (Non mi dir) and to the acrobatics of Clorinda (especially in the second aria from Il curioso indiscreto, No, che non sei capace), there is room also for the tenderness, liveliness and sorrow of the Countess (Dove sono i bei momenti), of Susanna (Deh, vieni, no tardar) and of Servilia (S’altro che lagrime).
Mozart Donna: the Performance
Every aria of Mozart Donna contains a surprise or reveals some significant features. It is interesting to note, for example how Damrau tries (and succeeds) to make the voice sound a little more mature and “serious” to portray the sad noblewoman in Dove sono i bei momenti and how immediately after, when she sings Susanna, she is able to find some charming and witty accents that reveal the joke of her lovely aria Deh, vieni. The same spirit, but this time with a little anger, returns in Blonde’s aria from Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Damrau’s characterization does not end here and her dramatic temperament finds the right place to appear in Servilia’s aria S’altro che lagrime and the famous, wonderful aria Ach, ich fühl’s, sung by one of the most disconsolate Paminas ever heard.
Of course the most flamboyant feature is Damrau’s perfect command of the colouratura, as it is possible to her in Donna Elvira’s aria and above all in Marten aller Arten. Damrau sings this demanding aria without hesitation and instead she launches on the notes with impeccable audacity.
Senti l’eco from La finta semplice (Senti l’eco, ove t’aggiri) is a pleasant surprise. Above the “rusticity” of the orchestra, Damrau’s voice rises with exquisite grace to sing this delightful piece.
The less fine piece of Mozart Donna is perhaps Vitellia’s aria from La clemenza di Tito. Its tessitura is too low for Damrau’s voice. She has to open the vowels of her low register to overcome the impasse. This aria is problem for many sopranos, however, as few (if none) of them have found it really suitable. Overall, Damrau’s taste and self-assurance are enough to sing the aria without other problems.
Diana Damrau’s Mozart Donna is an enjoyable recording. The German soprano’s voice is one of the most suitable for this repertoire for its flexibility, elegance and colour. She sings with bravura and enthusiasm and her commitment is such that nobody will remain indifferent to her artistry and skill.