> Filippa GIORDANO [RM]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Casta Diva (Short version) – from the opera "Norma"
S’apre per te il mio cuor – from the opera "Samson & Dalila"
Vissi d’Arte – from the opera "Tosca"
Habanera – from the opera "Carmen"
O mio babbino caro – from the opera "Gianni Schicchi"
Ave Maria
Addio del passato – form the opera "La traviata"
Lost boys calling
You are the one (sotto le stelle)
Dissonanze (Mondo trash)
Maria ( By the sea)
Casta Diva ( Extended version)

1, 3-8, and 12 recorded and mixed at Fonoprint Studios – Bologna.
London Session Orchestra / Celso Valli recorded at Angel Studio, Air Lyndhurst Studio and Whitfield Street Recording Studio London.
2,9-11 Recorded at Mayfair Studio and Roundhouse Studio, London. Mixed at Roundhouse Studio London.
London Session Orchestra / Marco Sabiu recorded at Angel Studio and Abbey Road Studio, London.
WARNER ERATO 3984-29694-2 [44.43]


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All well produced music has merit. The listener who dismisses it has just failed to appreciate it: and that is the listener’s loss. Therefore we should always be open minded and receptive to sound that is different. Then if we do not like it we do not have to listen and can exercise our power of choice based on an informed opinion. Similar observations apply to the development of music.

I think that there are three basic approaches to opera on CD: an opera complete in conventional form; highlights from one or more operas in conventional form and finally opera melodies played or sung in any aspect of the broad spectrum of music conventional or otherwise.

Filippa Giordano takes seven such favourite melodies and sings to electronic arrangements. One is played twice first in a 4 minute session and then in a 5 minute session, called on the CD, the ‘extended version. In addition she sings three songs written for her and one other.

So far so good. In a web-site article Anne Evans writes that Filippa Giordano maintains that "opera singers…(have)…to be true to the score …whereas a pop singer has more freedom to interpret both the lyrics and the score". Again no one would quarrel with that.

However when Norma sounds like Dalila sounds like Tosca sounds like Carmen and so on there is no lyrical or score interpretation. It is just some thumping good melodies sung in a consistent style. Again fine but let us not pretend otherwise.

Gordiano has a youthful sexy voice which she ‘breaks’ from time to time into husky throaty broken reed fashion. Here indeed is Lauretta’s wheedling pleading with her father to marry Rinuccio. But there is no steely resolve to make you think that she will throw herself in the Arno if thwarted – more that this spoilt brat will have a temper tantrum and throw her toys into the Arno instead. As for thinking that she could deal with Scarpia or manage to be a high priestess, well just forget it.

What she has is a small head voice, accurate in mid-range, which is occasionally jet propelled to the back of the recording studio by electronic wizardry. If she stuck to her mid-tessitura it would be more comfortable, because on high the sound she produces is there or thereabouts but it is no more than that. And occasionally she lapses into very undistinguished high pitched humming and moaning.

When she puts behind her the ‘little girl sound’, which appears to be reserved for the opera tunes, and starts to belt out the music, then there is some power, oomph and dead sexy sound. At that point we are getting somewhere near the West End musical standard. Her problem is that the likes of Elaine Page can do it so much better.

So cut the pretentious drivel about opera performances. Accept that this is Filippa Giordano singing some great tunes from operas plus other songs. Then in her personal style you have a CD which will sell on her name and style for those who like something less than a cross between Elaine Page and Lee Marvin.

Robert McKechnie

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