Arias for Anna De Amicis = Arias by Niccolò JOMMELLI (Armida abbandonata); MOZART (Lucio Silla); GLUCK (Orfeo ed Euridice); Giovanni Battista BORGHI (Il trionfo di Clelia); Josef MYSLIVEČEK (Romolo ed Ersilia); JC BACH (Zanaida); Pasquale CAFARO (Antigono) – Teodora Gheorghiu, sop./ Les Talents Lyriques/ Christophe Rousset – Aparte AP021, 77:14 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
We know little about Italian soprano Anna Lucia de Amicis (ca. 1733-1816) aside from the fact that she seemed to wow every major composer she came into contact with, and both composers and critics sang her praises, Leopold Mozart saying she sang like an angel, and Charles Burney in awe of her stunning high E-flat and the fact that she was able to execute a true staccato. Her fame spread near and far both for her musicality and acting ability, and evidently she possessed that rarest of diva qualities—humility—which endeared her to everyone, and enabled her to retire while still at the top of her game.
This CD, not unlike many others of recent vintage, is dedicated to her through some of the works she inspired in composers of the time. The list is impressive—the 16-year-old Mozart’s Lucia Silla is one of the devils of the catalog, its bel canto trickery a challenge to the most seasoned of sopranos as the young composer was flashing his furiously colorful feathers to the entire music world at the time. The other pieces are also nothing to sniff at; Niccolò Jommelli’s Armida abbandonata aria reminds us that there were composers other than Mozart capable of moving us, while the stunning talents of Mysliveček manifest themselves in an aria from his delightful heroic opera Romolo ed Ersilia from 1773. It should be noted that her type of voice and brilliant characterizations inspired the course of opera seria and led a whole generations of composers to create maddening difficult stage presentations that would never have happened if not for the talents of a select few like De Amicis.
Teodora Gheorghiu (no, not related to that Gheorghiu) is quietly making a name for herself on the worldwide stage with her impressive technique-laden vocalizing, dead-on in those attributes that so marked De Amicis’s own singing, though perhaps without all of the strength. My reading of the descriptions of De Amicis’s singing lead me to believe that this was one powerful woman, and Gheorghiu’s voice is rather white-toned and almost nasal in spots—it is not particularly powerful. But she makes the most of what she has and is able to convince even the most jaded listener of the value and rightness of her turns of phrase and colorful runs, and just tackling a recital like this takes a lot of confidence—and guts. Rousset and forces play splendidly, and the sound is clean and clear if somewhat dry. Recommended for an hour of enthralling entertainment from days long gone by, and surely missed.
Trio Wanderer plays Franck – Piano Quintet, Piano Trio, Violin Sonata – Harmonia Mundi
Late Romantic Chamber Music…