Victoria de los AngelesóProfile in Music

It takes half a minute watching
this issue before one succumbs to the charm of the lady and the beauty of the
voice. In the past, I’ve been somewhat immune towards some of her
recordings, especially in repertoire where the voice is stretched and not
very suitable, like in the heavier parts of Butterfly and that
ill-advised Cavalleria where she is completely overwhelmed by
Corelli. But the combination of looks and voice as here is to be seen is
simply irresistible.

The concert starts with three popular lieder, Gerald Moore his virtuosic
self as an accompanist. The voice is so warm, charming and exuberant that one
forgets all carping. Her German is quite good, though not in the league of
Schwarzkopf or Dieskau; but maybe that’s de los Angeles’
strength. One simply and immediately forgets that here is high Art with a capital “A” and realizes
that Lieder can be performed just to enjoy them. Fifty years afterwards it
strikes me (in her recordings as well) that de los Angeles is far more
timeless and therefore more modern than her great German contemporaries, as
she is not chewing on consonants or looking for hidden meanings. Of course,
she is incomparable in Falla’s famous Jota and how she enjoys
singing El retablo de Isabela by Vives. A song it is, but it could
come straightforward out of one of the maestro’s magnificent zarzuelas
like Dona Francisquita, Bohemios, Maruxa or La

The second part of this DVD consists of a BBC Profile in Music with opera
arias and one song. De los Angeles starts out with Salud’s monologue
from Vida breve and one almost shivers with emotion, knowing the sad
fate that was awaiting the soprano herself only shortly afterwards. In
Barbiere she is pure magic: the voice warm, playful and always with
a smile in it. And the way she acts, it ought to be seen. This is a Rosina of
one’s dreams. Maybe she is a little overparted in Tannh‰user,
but it still is a treat to get Wagner sung in this almost lilting way. And as
Cio Cio San she is heart breaking. The sets she is acting in are discreet but
sufficient. One doesn’t see the orchestra and nevertheless wonders if
the singing was done indirectly. Probably not as she has a lot of talking to
do between arias; but then it only proves she was already highly proficient
at synchronized lipping. A John Freeman is the conceited and very irritating
interviewer throwing away opportunity after opportunity with his stupid
questions e.g.: “whom do you like best to work with? Germans, Italians,
English?” and a prime example of imbecility “are you interested in public
affairs? in Spanish politics?” This at a time when Franco still had opponents
during the civil war shot. De los Angeles stays calm, always smiling and
laughing and speaking a rich American English with that beautiful speaking
voice. With historical hindsight, we know that soon tragedy will unfold and
the laughing Vicky (as she was lovingly called by her fans) will turn into
herself, always friendly but aloof, never speaking her mind anymore. (Her
husband cheated all the time on her while gambling away all her money and
indebting her severely. She became pregnant again and her son suffered from
diabetes. Her second son was born with the Down’s syndrome. Though losing her
voice, she had to perform into her seventies to survive. She could finally
get a divorce but had to bury her eldest son. She died almost destitute.)

The third part of this DVD is devoted to a recital of well-known Spanish
songs at BesanÁon. By 1967, the voice had thinned and the top was more
problematic than ever but in this repertoire she can still sing with that
rich middle voice and one hardly notices the decline. The bonus is a song
recorded with the composer at the piano, filmed in fine colours. The picture
quality is not perfect at first and when the camera has to move from medium
to close there is some abruptness. But the quality soon improves (somewhat
strange as it is the same kinescope) and, when we have reached Brahms,
everything is as perfect as can be expected from those broadcasts. The sound,
too, is perfect; and no admirer of vocal art can do without this issue.

Jan Neckers

image_description=Victoria de los AngelesóProfile in Music
product_title=Victoria de los AngelesóProfile in Music
Songs by Schubert, Brahms, Falla, Vives, Granados, Montsalvage, Nin, Mompou. Arias by Falla, Rossini, Wagner, Puccini.
product_by=Victoria de los Angeles, Gerald Moore, Patrick Harvey, Georges PrÍtre, Felix Zanetti, Frederico Mompou
product_id=EMI Classics 0946 3 10203 9 1 [DVD]