Rossini : ArmidaPesaro, 1993 (Audio)
Director: Daniele Gatti
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In August 1992 , in the Rossini Opera Festival, Anna Caterina Antonacci who was supposed to sing Armida, but she cencelled the performance.Her replacement was Renée Fleming a young and almost unknown american soprano.She was there the next day and rehearsed the aria "D'amor al dolce impero" at the piano. I must confess that loving Antonacci so much I had a prejudice against this young soprano,but when she opened her mouth it was like listening to a miracle, the beauty of her voice,her incredible technique and her amazing grasp of the Rossini style left me speechless and astonished.
Needless to say she was wonderfull throughout the hole score and the preformances were flabbergasting,it was fortunate that they decided to record one of them so that everybody can enjoy this masterfull interpretation. After Callas' preformances in Florence in 1952 it seamed as though we had lost the real Armida voice,Christine Deutekom sang the part in the sixties,June Anderson in the eighties and Cecilia Gasdia recorded it in 1987 but each of these singers failed in recreating the true Rossini style.
Armida is Rossini's third neapolitan opera wrote for his future wife Isabella Colbran one of the greatest opera divas of her time; born a contralto she gradually turned into a soprano and this switch left her with a very large vocal range and an incredible vocal agility. This particular vocal organization was to influence every opera wrote for her(10 all together,9 for the "Teatro San Carlo" in Naples and Semiramide wrote for the "teatro la Fenice" in Venice. Armida is probably one of the most difficult roles in opera history,the soprano is the only female role in the opera,she's almost always on stage and her voice is asked to run up and down the scale constantly with terrifying two octave jumps. The results achieved by Fleming in this live recording are astonishing excpecially considering she was at the beginning of her career,if you love Rossini and female voices you can't miss this Armida,pain,anguish,fury,cruelty,every emotion is portrayed with such artistry that the listener is thrown into a magical exceperience that will leave him speechless.If there is anybody who hasn't heard it yet I hope that this review will convince him. The rest of the cast is outstanding,Kunde is a valid partner for Fleming and Giorgio Gatti always finds the right tempos and the right atmosphere.