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Joan Sutherland - The Art of the Prima Donna Original recording remastered
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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 10-OCT-2000
In February 1959, an unknown (well, comparatively) Australian singer appeared at Covent Garden in Franco Zeffirelli's new production of Lucia di Lammermoor and took the world by storm. The following year, Joan Sutherland went into the studio to record this reissued tribute to prima donnas of previous generations, illustrating along the way the bel canto tradition of which she was to become a leading exponent. The 16 excerpts on this digitally remastered double CD include several roles she had already sung or was on the verge of singing, from Gilda in Rigoletto, which she had sung at Covent Garden before her Lucia debut, to Norma. What a performance! The voice is fresh, remarkable in its beauty, and she makes it all sound so effortless, tossing off Handel's "Let the bright Seraphim" or the Jewel aria from Gounod's Faust as if they're the easiest things in the world. This sparkling selection of glorious singing demonstrates just why Sutherland was to remain at the top of her profession for the next 30 years and join those to whom she here pays tribute as one of the great singers of all time. --Richard Fawkes
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Top Customer Reviews
The condition of Sutherland's golden voice here is indescribably gorgeous. The ring in her soprano is thrilling. The trills are just about as good as it can get ( Remember, there are two notes in a trill, a phenomenon that only La Stupenda can accomplish ). The scales and arpeggios are so accurate that it is simply a marvel! But it is the enormous size of the voice, especially at the top half of the stratosphere that makes Dame Joan beyond comparison.
The highlights here are - everything! A two cd set that sets the standard for all coloratura sopranos of the past, present, and future. First, the difficulty of the program. I read that Sutherland recorded all of these arias in one take in a time frame of two days. I don't remember ever hearing so many extreme high notes in one sitting ( up to E natural, and there are three of these in Semiramide's "Bel raggio" alone ) . Another several high E in the "Bell song". If you think that Sutherland's singing of the "Bell Song is super in her recording of Lakme, you should listen to this one." The staccato is fast. In bel canto, the shorter a staccato is, the more precise the technique. Meaning, that when she attacks a staccato, she releases it in the split of a second. Of the coloraturas of the last century, Only Amelita Galli-Curci has a better staccato than Sutherland ( but of course Galli-Curci did not have nearly the voice or trill as Sutherland ).
The aria from Les Hugenots is a shere technical achievement that is so stunning that words can't describe. Let's just say, in that aria ( and all the other arias in this recording, as well ), she attacks every trill, scale, and high notes with such ease that you would think that she was an instrument like a flute, not a human being.
The great aria "Marten alle arten" is a concerto for soprano and orchestra. And it is thrilling to hear the aria sung as Mozart would have envisioned - with its long phrases taken without any breaths. ( Beverly Sills also sings this aria extremely well ).
The mad scene from Il Puritani is glorious! Sutherland sounds so sad and convincing, which was something that she was not known for. The high E flat that crowns the end of the aria is one of her very best.
Now, if you want to hear what a trill is supposed to sound like, I suggest the "Jewel Song".Now, that's what a trill is suppose to sound like - its two notes completely separate from each other. A trill is the most difficult element in coloratura singing, and having a great trill can make a great coloratura soprano a legend. Of the opera singers of the last century, only the following had a "real" trill: Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Maria Tetrazinni, and Nellie Melba.
Finally, let me comment on the vast improvement of Decca's state of the art remastering of this classic recording. Decca's engineers have basically restore the true Sutherland sound. And in doing so, future opera fans will hear what a true coloratura is supposed to sound like.
The CD begins with, to my ears, is the least excellent of the lot of tunes that follow. "The Soldier Tir'd" from "Artaxerxes." The trill technique is a bit weak here. However, the combination of the large rich voice with coloratura technique is manifest well. This combination did make Sutherland a special talent.
From Bellini's "I Puritani," the delightful "Son vergin vezzosa." Unlike the previously discussed piece, her trills are Suthlerland-esque. Great agility in this piece. This is a wonderful version of the song; Sutherland hits the final high note right on.
Again, from "I Puritani," "Vien diletto." A terrific version, replete with well executed trills and all manner of ornamentation. Half a century later, this version still rates among the best of the past 50 years' worth of coloratura singing.
From Gounod's "Faust," "Ah! Je ris de me voir." A wonderful version. Good trills. Sutherland shows remarkable vocal agility, especially with as rich a voice as she had. Her voice moves smoothly from middle to higher range.
Another Gounod work, "Ah! Je veux vivre." What a start to this one! Some point out that her articulation was great in this CD, only to worsen in subsequent years. Maybe so, but her articulation still isn't among the greats in terms of that issue. Nonetheless, it hardly matters. The singing is ravishing. Some who try the coloratura repertoire do well, but show some thinness and harshness on high notes. Not so here with Sutherland.
Finally, the "Bell Song" from "Lakme." Great trills, good staccato singing. The final trill, run, and concluding high note are a wonder.
You want to hear the best of Sutherland? This 2 CD set surely would be one strong candidate for that designation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This album was recorded before I was a fetus..
Ms Sutherland can hit some amazing C's
Check out Track # 3.......Let it build up....Read more
So glad to find this C D. if 10 stars were allowed ,she would get it. i