Ann Hallenberg: Arias For Marietta Marcolini

Album cover art for upc 822186053096
Label: NAIVE
Catalog: V5309
Format: CD

HALLENBERG; STAVANGER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA; STAVANGER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA; BIONDI

Wholenote Discoveries - December 2012
Noted Swedish mezzo soprano Ann Hallenberg’s new disc on the French naïve label is an interesting collection of arias written originally for a great diva who “set Verona ablaze” with her artistry in the 1810/20’s, Maria Marcolini. By a fortunate coincidence she entered the life of the teenage Rossini who was just beginning his career and provided such an inspiration and forward momentum that the mezzo-soprano lead became the raison d’etre of his early operas, first and foremost L’Italiana in Algeri, the comic masterpiece from his Venetian period. Marcolini however was an already established singer and she sang in many of the works of Rossini’s contemporaries who in hindsight were never as good as the master himself. Nevertheless in order to a give a fuller perspective of the period Hallenberg has included a few arias from those operas as well. Such names as Mayr, Weigl, Paer, Mosca and Coccia are likely to be totally unknown for most listeners but the selections are not without merit and sung with dedication, perfect intonation and technical brilliance. Generally the same is true for the Rossini arias. In one of my favorites, Per lui che adoro (“The Man I love” – Rossini version), the beautiful espressivo, the lyrical vocal line, the coquettish charm and sensuality, so important in Isabella’s character in L’Italiana, come out well and certainly there is no lack of brilliance in the devilishly difficult Rossinian fioraturas either. Her power, especially in the high registers is glorious. She receives stylish accompaniment from the Norwegian ensemble under Fabio Biondi’s direction. Janos Gardonyi

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