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Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Angela Gheorghiu - My Puccini
La Bohème (1894-5) (Gheorghiu as Mimi) [11:57]: ‘Mi chiamo Mimi (Act I) *; ‘Donde lieta uscì’ (Act I) *
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Anton Coppola
‘O soave fanciulla’ (Act I) +
Roberto Alagna (Rodolfo)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden/Richard Armstrong
La Rondine (1917) (Gheorghiu as Magda) [20:36]: ‘Chi il bel signo di Doretta’ (Act I) *; Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Anton Coppola
‘Denaro! Nient’altro che denaro!’ (Act I) #
Patrizia Biccire (Yvette); Patrizia Ciofi (Bianca) and Monica Bacelli (Suzy)
‘Forse come la rondine’ (Act I) #; ‘Figliuolo, tu mi dici…’ #; ‘No! Non dir questo…Ma come puoi lascarmi? (Act III) #
Robert Alagna (Ruggero)
London Symphony Orchestra/Antonio Pappano
Suor Angelica (1918) (Gheorghiu as Angelica) [5:00]: ‘Senza mamma’ *
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Anton Coppola
Gianni Schicchi (1918) (Gheorghiu as Lauretta) [2:12]
‘O mio babbino caro’ +
José Van Dam (Schicchi)
London Symphony Orchestra/Antonio Pappano
Manon Lescaut (1893) (Gheorghiu as Manon) [8:40]: ‘In quelle trine morbide (Act II) *; ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’ (Act IV) *; Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Anton Coppola
Tosca (1898-9) (Gheorghiu as Tosca) [26:27] #
Vissi d’arte’ (Act II): ‘Senti, l’ora è vicina’ (Act III); ‘Mario!...Son qui!’ (Act I); ‘Come è lunga l’attesa!’ (Act III)
Roberto Alagna (Cavaradossi)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano
rec. * Auditorium di Milano July 2004; #Studio No.1 Abbey Road, London, 1995 and 2000 (Tosca); + Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London 1995 and 1997 (Gianni Schicchi)]
Madama Butterfly (1901-04) (Gheorghiu as Butterfly)
‘Un bel di’
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Ion Marin (rec 2004)
‘Vogliatemi bene’
Roberto Alagna (Pinkerton)
Staatskapelle Dresden/Giuseppe Sinopoli (rec.1999)
Turandot (1920-24)
‘Tu che di gei sei cinta’
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Ion Marin (rec.2002)
Gianni Schicchi
‘O mio babbino caro’
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Ion Marin (rec. 2002)
Angela Gheorghiu: Reflections on Puccini
EMI CLASSICS CD & 2174412 [CD: 75:26; DVD: 59:00]
Experience Classicsonline

First a warning! Prospective buyers should be warned that probably the most attractive and sought-after element of the DVD of this package - Angela Gheorghiu – Reflections on Puccini - is audio only: Gheorghiu interviewed is not seen. This is a major let-down and EMI are at fault for not admitting it on their packaging. It is only when the DVD is ‘in the tray’ that this fault becomes apparent.
Yet there is much to enjoy in this section. Jon Tolansky’s sometimes over-enthusiastic narration illuminates though; so, too, and much more appositely, does Gheorghiu in her own comments. It is clear that she is meticulous in her study and interpretation of Puccini’s heroines. She researches the derivations of their stories – for instance, the Abbé Prévost’s story for Manon Lescaut and Henri Murger's novel of 1820s Paris, Scènes de la vie de bohème which inspired Puccini’s La Bohème. She thinks deeply about and searches out their motivations and backgrounds. It will be remembered that Gheorghiu shot to fame for her interpretation of La Bohème’s Mimi in 1992. It was the depth and range of both the vocal and psychological dimensions that she brought to this role that made such a remarkable impression. She tells us, in her interview, that Mimi is stronger than one might think and independent, and that she already knows her neighbour, Rodolfo, and seizes her opportunity to make him love her and protect her in her serious illness. In the new DVD of the Metropolitan Opera production, Gheorghiu makes this abundantly clear.
As the review states: “she makes the point that she does not regard Mimi as pure and innocent - why then would Rodolfo have cause to be jealous? In fact it is noticeable that it is she who blows out the candle first in her first encounter with Rodolfo, clearly eager to gain his protection!” 
Gheorghiu clearly feels very deeply about her roles. She confesses that she is so affected by the plight of Cio-Cio San that “when you are so disappointed in your love … I cannot play Madama Butterfly on-stage”. She is seen passionately singing the Act I love duet from Butterfly, with Roberto Alagna, in concert, on this DVD.
Tolansky enthusing about her role as Magda observes that Gheorghiu “captures the poise, the sentimentality and the touching romanticism of Magda with the most spectacular virtuosity, a kaleidoscopic palette of colours and a spontaneous sense of improvisation that virtually brings to life Magda’s feelings of the moment.” He is talking especially of her Act I aria ‘Chi il bel sogno di Doretta’ in which, as a kept woman of an elderly rich man, she dreams of romance with a student and a light, tender kiss that burns. The excerpts on the CD of this album illustrate Gheorghiu’s magnificence. Please refer to my review of the full EMI La Rondine.
Gheorghiu, speaking of La Rondine, says, “I love its sparkling sweetness and passion. … I know how that music goes into your soul: I feel it in my body.”
The excerpts on CD 1 are all from previous releases and have won praise from the critics. All are treasurable, heartfelt performances: Tosca (with Alagna on a BBC DVD), highlights of the EMI Tosca and Gheorghiu and Alagna in the EMI Il trittico (including, of course, Gianni Schicchi on CD1).
A splendid collection of Puccini heroines illuminated by the incomparable Gheorghiu. Although the Angela Gheorghiu – Reflections on Puccini component of the DVD is audio only (shame on EMI) it is most revealing.
Ian Lace


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