A sort of
audio calling card for soprano Beth Donnelly and baritone Douglas Feller
(both of the Portland, Oregon, area), this handsomely presented set probably
does not have wide distribution — there may come a time when the artists
offer thanks for that, for the singing on display here does not show either
singer off in the most complimentary fashion.
Donnelly, whose bio mentions some Portland Opera appearances, begins the
CD with Doretta’s song from La Rondine and then leaps into
Violetta’s Traviata act one showpiece. In both, her basically
attractive instrument approaches each aria’s challenges with that faint edge
of hesitation and calculation which detracts from the accomplishment. As an
example, she opts for the high ending to “Sempre libera,” but a noticeable
pause before the money note relays too much of a sense of gathering her
resources, and then the note itself represents more the singer’s aspiration
than the character’s exuberance. Later solos (from Lucia, Don
Giovanni, and Don Pasquale) tend to run together, with no
particular interpretation in evidence.
As compared to her partner on the CD, baritone Douglas Feller, Ms.
Donnelly at least sings with attractive tone. Mr. Feller’s unsteady, unsubtle
baritone sounds equally unappealing in opera (arias from many of the same
operas named above) and in pop pieces, such as the title track.
The album closes with the two duetting on the Bocelli/Brightman hit, “Time
to Say Goodbye.” An unfortunate choice of words, but entirely fitting for
this CD at that point.
A second disc, on DVD, supposedly offers “film and images from Rome,
Italy, the inspiration of the music, and from the Pacific Northwest.”
However, it would not play on your reviewer’s equipment.
This being a 2005 release, one hopes that in 2006 both singers have grown
and are offering the Pacific Northwest finer vocalizing than is, sadly, heard
product_by=Beth Donnelly, Douglas Feller
product_id=Jeremiah Productions CD