La Scena Musicale

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Verdi and Verismo

Fabiana Bravo, soprano
St. Petersburg Radio and TV Orchestra / Charles Rosekrans
KLEOS Classics KL5149 (72 m 32 s)
**** $$$
Argentinean soprano Fabiana Bravo is that rare breed – a true spinto soprano with a dark-hued powerful instrument, strong sense of drama, and glamorous stage presence. Since winning the 5th Luciano Pavarotti Voice Competition in 1996, Bravo has made a name for herself in the Verdi and verismo repertoires. A generous artist on stage, her performances are noted for their intensity and all-out vocalism. This CD, recorded in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2006, gives the listener a good idea of her art. The disc is a generous 72 minutes long, featuring 14 arias from Don Carlo, Simon Boccanegra, Corsaro, Aïda, Forza, Mefistofele, Adriana, Wally, Tosca, Andrea Chenier, Edgar and Suor Angelica. The singing is impressive, particularly her blazing top with a genuine high pianissimo, which she uses to great effect in “La vergine degli angeli” and “Senza mamma”. The timbre and weight of her sound are ideal in the Verdi and Puccini heroines featured on the disc. For dramatic effect, Bravo is not afraid to dip into her generous chest voice. Like other big-voiced dramatic sopranos, Bravo is best seen on stage, as this type of voice isn't so easily captured on disc. The close miking exaggerates her breathing, and sometimes one can hear a slow vibrato and an overall unsteadiness. Occasionally, she telegraphs a coming high note by breaking the line to take a breath, as in “Vissi d'arte” and “O patria mia”. The St. Petersburg Radio and TV Orchestra under American conductor Charles Rosekrans does yeoman service – one wishes for more incisive and commanding leadership from the maestro. These quibbles aside, the disc is well worth a listen for those curious about the art of this exciting soprano.

- Joseph K. So

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