Soprano Songs and Arias

Ana MarÌa MartÌnez debuts at the Metropolitan Opera on November 19 performing the role of Micaela in Carmen, an occasion with which this release by Naxos is intended to coincide. This collection consists of eleven pieces by eight composers that range from the familiar to the obscure. Of the familiar, she has selected three arias by Puccini: ìO mio babbino caroî (Gianni Schicchi), ìChi il bel sogno di Dorettaî ( La Rondine) and ìUn bel dÏ vedremoî (Madama Butterfly). Then there are Gounodís ìJe veux vivreî (RomÈo et Juliette), Leh·rís ìVilja-Liedî (Die lustige Witwe), Delibesí ìLes filles de Cadix,î Canteloubeís ìBaÔlËroî (Chants díAuvergne) and ìAria (Cantilena)î from Villa-Lobosí Bachianas-Brasileiras No. 5 for voice and eight cellos. Finally, there are Pablo Lunaís ìDe EspaÒa vengoî (El NiÒo Judio), Francis LÛpezís ìVioletas imperialesî and ìDanÁa (Martelo)î from Bachianas-Brasileiras No. 5. A wide range, indeed, of musical styles, vocal color and emotional expression that MartÌnez navigates with ease.
MartÌnez possesses an instrument of astonishing range, flexibility and ringing top that is ideally suited to the Romantic and Post-Romantic musical literature presented here. There is no doubt, moreover, that her precise phrasing, intonation and dynamics all contribute to a most satisfactory musical result. In many respects, her voice is reminiscent of that of Bid˙ Say„o, albeit with a tad more weight, power and opacity. There are no mannerisms apparent in this recording. At times her slurs border on portamento, but always with the requisite dramatic effect. It is a pity that works by Handel, Mozart or Strauss are not included to give the listener a complete sample of her musicality. There is one caveat. This recording was made in August 2000. So it is likely that her voice has matured to some degree during the past five years.
Steven Mercurio conducts the Prague Philharmonia with aplomb. The engineers have done well to achieve optimal balance between the soloist and the orchestra.
This recording is highly recommended. Let us hope that many more are forthcoming.
Gary Hoffman

image_description=Soprano Songs and Arias
product_title=Soprano Songs and Arias
product_by=Ana MarÌa MartÌnez, soprano; Prague Philharmonia, Steven Mercurio (cond.).
product_id=Naxos 8.557827 [CD]