PUCCINI: Turandot

So much for priorities though there may be a reason for it.
This issue is mostly destined for the Spanish speaking countries and Arteta
is quite a name there, popular too due to some zarzuela-recordings. I’m
nevertheless more impressed by her Liu than by her solo-zarzuela-album. The
voice on this Turandot is almost a cross between Mirella Freni and
Renato Scotto; there is something of Freni’s sweetness and
Scotto’s intensity. Moreover, Arteta has some magical pianissimi which
she uses abundantly. Her performance nevertheless proves to be a real live
one without Domingo-editings to cut away false or missed notes. She comes in
too early in her ‘Signore ascolta’ and has to repeat the phrase
and in my opinion, agreed not a very purist one, it makes for a charming
effect. Less charming is the end of her second aria ‘Tu che di gel sei
cinta’ where there is once more a misunderstanding between pit and

The tenor is Ignacio Encinas, not a well-known name to most readers, but
alas too well known to me who has suffered him a lot at the Walloon Opera.
Encinas is today’s version of Franco Bonisolli. Acting means strutting
around like a peacock. Singing means clinging to high notes, lengthening or
shortening note values as it becomes him. Phrasing is sometimes fine and
often clumsy and he often succeeds of doing that in one breath. The same goes
for the sound. In one note he can combine a nice dark sound followed by a dry
patch. He has a good top, not many decibels (less in life than this recording
would suggest) but projects well. He can be rather exciting in some
verismo roles like ChÈnier but I also heard him as Manrico or
Gualtiero (Pirata) where the liabilities were greater than the advantages. In
the first act of this recording he is on his best behaviour, singing a good
‘Non piangere’ but by the second act the discipline is going down
the drain and all his tricks and eccentricities are clearly audible.
Sometimes there is singing and then there is sprechgesang and of course a big
breath before taking the high C in ‘ti voglio tutto ardente’. And
like Bonisolli one gets irritated with the mannerisms because one realizes
there could be quite a voice hiding under it all.

But the main reason for acquiring this set as a valuable addition to the
many great classical recordings is the Turandot of Alessandra Marc. I cannot
think of a better Turandot on modern records, be it live or studio since Gina
Cigna in 1937. (Yes, I know the Nilsson recordings and I even heard her twice
in the role in her heydays). The voice is big, easily riding over the
orchestra but it is feminine as well and not just a laser beam. She
magnificently succeeds in bringing anguish to her role the moment Calaf has
solved the third riddle. And, she really melts when singing her second aria
‘Dal primo pianto’. Agreed, on top and at full throttle she not
always succeeds fully but that is minor compared to the rich overwhelming and
emotionally involved sound.

The sound of this recording is a little bit constricted as if the source
were a TV-broadcast and it favours the singers over the orchestra. The chorus
of the Bilbao Opera is definitely underpowered so that the climax of this
classical Alfano-version suffers somewhat. Therefore it is somewhat difficult
to judge the merits of the conductor though his tempi are fine. There is no
libretto included.

Jan Neckers

image_description=Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
product_title=Giacomo Puccini: Turandot
product_by=Alessandra Marc (Turandot), Ignacio Encinas (Calaf), Ainho Arteta (Liu),Erwin Schrott (timur), lluis Sintes ( Ing), Eduaqrdo Santamaria (Pang), JosÈ Ruiz (Pong), Pedro Calderon (Altoum), JosÈ Manuel Diaz (Mandarin). Orquesta sinfonica de Euskadi conducted byJosÈ Collado.
Recorded on the 21th and 24th of September 2002 in Bilbao.
product_id=RTVE Musica 65171 [2CDs]