Between the dark world and the heavenly light

May 31, 22 The voices are as different as the looks: Anna Netrebko, Joyce DiDonato and Elsa Dreisig present themselves in their latest albums artificially styled in artificial characters and with partially paradoxical shows. Who can win the marketing battle for the most valuable overall concept? Analysis.

While arias albums were audiotechnical documents of historical voices early in the history of sound recording – after all, Caruso and Callas were heard by posterity – at least since the emergence of stars such as Netrebko, Villazón, Kaufmann and Co., the record has become a marketing tool in the interaction of record companies with agencies and opera theaters. With a musical showcase, singers’ recitals now offer the possibility of communicating messages and emotional worlds. First, the last album of Anna Netrebko, released in November 2021 – long before the current events (currently the singer is performing again). Rather gloomy title chosen Amata dalle tenebre (you can translate for free from Lovers of the dark. You can find there, among others Ariadne auf Naxos There is a kingdomIsoldes i love deathDido When I’m on the ground – a lot of farewell pain and the title dark worlds.

With a grounded, thoracic voice, unfortunately not very understandable. Then arias like S.olo, perduta outside Manon LescautAdriana Lecouvreurs Poveri Fiori, Aidas Numi, heel and Tu che le vanita Elisabetta with Don Carlo – female roles left to a dramatic fate and successfully tested on the stage by Netrebko for a long time. But he really feels at home in the Russian repertoire: the climax on the album is Lisa’s aria from Tchaikovsky. Queen of spades – this is where the warm tone of her voice really blooms. Riccardo Chailly accompanies the Milan Scala orchestra and conducts the prelude as a bonus Tristan and Isolde. Some fashionable deluxe edition video clips with Bluray have also been produced at high cost. Netrebko and Deutsche Grammophon are trying to build on the success of their 2003 debut album – at that time there were already bonus music videos. How the singer and her voice have changed and developed since then!

It also seems quite contradictory when the original sound ensemble of baroque music, such as Il pomo d’oro conducted by Maxim Emelyanychev Mahler Rückert Lieder (I am lost to the world), Wagner Wesendonck’s songs (Trouble) or even Charles Ives Question without answer (the solo trumpet part is vocalized!) plays. All this can be heard on the new album of the American singer Joyce DiDonato. And of course with the baroque arias from Handel Theodora (kneel down Like with the pink steps in the morning) or Ombra mai fu outside withered or pieces from Cavalli’s La Callisto is at home and beats the true magic of sound and vocally precise and sublime expression. Discoveries are also guaranteed: Josef Mysliviceks Adam and Ewa The oratorio is represented by an aria, as is Oscar-winner Rachel Portman for the melodrama The first morning of the world as a world premiere. DiDonato has already crossed the borders of the dark kingdom, as Netrebko sings, and programmatically interprets songs from the beyond – Eden is the title of the album. Really stunningly beautiful!

And then there’s music for eternity: Mozart. Elsa Dreisig, Danish-French soprano and in Salzburg as Fiordiligi w Cosi fan tutte celebrated since 2020/21, he has now recorded a clean Mozart album – Mozart x 3, ”he says. From the three DaPonte operas cosi, Giovanni and Figaro sings three numbers at once. Amazingly flexible in how she masters the balancing between Countess, Susanna and Cherub, Zerlina, Donna Elvira and Donna Anna or Despina, Fiordiliga and Dorabella. Rather, it is unlikely that she will sing all these roles on stage. But that’s what the aria album is for. And then there are calibers like the Elettras Estinto é Idomeneo from Idomeneo or Vitellias Non piú di fiori outside La Clemenza di Tito. Both are too early for the young singer, but perhaps breakthroughs for her Mozart career. Former head of Camerata Salzburg, Louis Langrée conducts the Basilica Chamber Orchestra on record.

Bottom line: All three albums follow the marketing and technical concept of “idée fixe” from a suffering (Netrebko) to a delighted woman (DiDonato) to a (graceful) woman from Mozart (Dreisig). Face to face and as if they came out of the world of art, make-up artists and vocalists with their daily hair look at us like strong women from the cover. La femme, c’est moi! However, the staging’s message often stands above the singers’ artistic and musical goals in a strange way.

Amata dalle tenebre: Anna Netrebko / R. Chailly. DG 4860531
Eden: Joyce DiDonato / M. Emeyanychev. Warner / Erato 9029646515
Mozart x 3: Elsa Dreisig / L. Langrée. Warner / Erato. 9029641225

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