Krassimira Stoyanova;   Pavel Baleff  -  Verismo  (Orfeo C 899 171)
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Krassimira Stoyanova;   Pavel Baleff  -  Verismo  (Orfeo C 899 171)
V2643. KRASSIMIRA STOYANOVA, w.Pavel Baleff Cond. Münchner Rundfunkorchester: Verismo Arias from L'Amico Fritz, Adriana Lecouvreur, La Wally, Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica, Turandot, Andrea Chénier, Manon Lescaut, Edgar, Lodoletta & Tosca. (Germany) Orfeo C 899 171, recorded 2015-16, with booklet essay by Roberto Lombardo. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 4011790899121


“You may know the book THE LAST PRIMA DONNAS by Lanfranco Rasponi (if not, it’s worth seeking out - B0195): a series of interviews in which highly opinionated pre-war divas cast a caustic eye over their colleagues and successors on the lyric stage, managing to disparage just about everybody under the guise of deep concern for their sacred art. I would like to think that wherever they sit in judgment now, they would manage a benign nod for the artistry of Krassmira Stoyanova, whose CD VERISMO contains many gems from their repertoire. With much Puccini included, the title is slightly misleading, but Stoyanova has not just the voice but the manner for these roles. She relishes the vocal sweep, direct emotion and expressive possibilities of each aria - she lightens her tone for a tender Liù, enriches it for a grand Adriana Lecouvreur and unleashes it for Maddalena (ANDREA CHÉNIER) and Fidelia (EDGAR). Of particular interest is the immensely affecting finale from Mascagni’s LODOLETTA, in which Pavel Baleff’s sympathetic conducting helps Stoyanova to fade away exquisitely. Her use of portamento is masterly and she has verismo style at her fingertips. A gorgeous disc.”

- Francis Muzzu, OPERA NOW

“For her new album, Stoyanova has turned her attention to verismo arias. Verismo is a blanket term of the broad, post-Romantic Italian operatic tradition after Verdi, which didn’t focus on gods, mythological figures and kings and queens but on realistic, ordinary people and their everyday, often mundane, lives. Relationships in the verismo aesthetic are often portrayed in their simplest form with tales of love, lust, jealousy and vengeance, perpetually concluding with grisly crimes of passion. Conversely, a couple of the most performed verismo operas Puccini’s TOSCA and Giordano’s ANDREA CHÉNIER do involve historical subjects and arias from these two operas are sung here by Stoyanova.

A lirico spinto, Bulgarian born Stoyanova, now aged fifty-five, has sung at the major international including opera houses La Scala, the Metropolitan, Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper. Stoyanova is a Verdi specialist and in 2015 performed Aida, her eleventh Verdi role. Particularly satisfying is Stoyanova’s strong projection, slightly dark and rich tone especially in her middle register, clarity of diction, and gleaming top register. Indeed, it’s easy to see why, with these qualities, she is so in demand for leading soprano roles. On the concert stage, the Verdi Requiem also figures prominently.

Most of the set-piece arias in this collection are exceedingly well known, with a few of them done to death, namely Puccini’s Senza mamma (SUOR ANGELICA) and Vissi d'arte (TOSCA). Although Stoyanova is singing nine Puccini arias here, the composer is not her speciality, as she has sung only the single Puccini role of Mimì (LA BOHÈME) since 2014. Revealingly, in a 2014 interview, Stoyanova said ‘Tosca? It is not a role for me’, so I was keen to hear how she would handle the artistic demands of the enduring popular showpiece ‘Vissi d'arte’, an aria that she does sing in concert recital. There was no need to worry as the soprano sings how the prima donna Flora Tosca lives for art and love with all the commitment and feeling one expects in an aria she knows so well. Cautious of singing the role of Madama Butterfly on the stage, having cancelled three engagements some years ago (Bologna, Turin and Barcelona), she sings a couple of arias from the opera. Notable is ‘Che tua madre dovrà prenderti in braccio’, where Butterfly threatens to end her life; Stoyanova renders it with poise and an accomplished control of her top notes.

With such an enviable number of verismo operas to choose from, regrettably it tends to be the same arias that persistently appear on recital collections. So not surprisingly on this album, it’s the arias from the rarer operas by Mascagini L'AMICO FRITZ and LODOLETTA that hold the most interest. ‘Son pochi fiori’ (L'AMICO FRITZ), when Suzel is presented to Fritz as a possible bride, exemplifies Stoyanova in her finest and most affecting form, conveying a convincingly girlish vulnerability. Of all the performances on the album, most exceptional is the aria ‘Ah, il suo nome… Flammen perdonami’ (LODOLETTA). Exhausted by her journey to Paris, the infatuated Lodoletta arrives at Flammen’s doorstep in a snow storm. Ashamed and distraught, she dies from hunger and the intense cold. Stoyanova’s voice is durable and never feels underpowered; she captivatingly communicates the suffering of the protagonist’s emotionally fragile personality with almost unbearable intensity. In both Mascagni’s arias, the combination of such glorious music and Stoyanova’s captivating voice is an extremely potent one.

Stoyanova’s conductor is fellow Bulgarian Pavel Baleff, who maintains a flowing tempo and obtains admirable support from the versatile Münchner Rundfunkorchester. Performing with undoubted commitment the players clearly relish this verismo repertoire. The engineering team from Studio 1, Bayerischen Rundfunk provides satisfyingly balanced sound quality with clarity and presence.

Ideally, I would have preferred to hear three or four more arias from rarer verismo operas in this primarily Puccini-focused collection, but overall this album of verismo arias from Stoyanova is most enjoyable and conveys a sense of her total involvement.”

- Michael Cookson, MusicWebInternational