In her solo debut album for Pentatone, Ombra Compagna, Lisette Oropesa sings ten arias, some written by Mozart for inclusion in operas by fellow composers in need of musical assistance. Others were conceived by the composer as stand-alone concert arias, rather than operatic pieces. In almost every instance these arias provided the singers for whom they were written with vocal challenges that allowed them to display their technical equipment. The music demands agility, perfectly executed trills, a secure top range, the necessary breath control to spin long phrases, and the evenness in registers to execute enormous leaps from above the staff to the lowest register of the soprano voice.
Who were these singers? They were working professionals like Aloysia Weber, and Louisa Viileneuve, some were gifted amateurs like Countess Maria Josepha von Paumgarten. Some starred in operas by Mozart and by lesser luminaries like Sarti, Jommelli, Martín y Soler, and Anfossi. Others, like Josepha Duschek, were concert singers who rarely appeared on stage. All of them undoubtedly possessed formidable techniques.
The texts of these arias were provided by some of the finest lyric poets of their time, including Pietro Metastasio, Carlo Goldoni, and Lorenzo Da Ponte, and they range from the tragic and heroic Ah! Lo previdi, to the lighthearted Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!; Chi sà, chi sà, qual sia, and Voi avete un cor fedele.
Throughout the ten selections in the album, the gifted soprano Lisette Oropesa dazzles with her secure negotiation of the many technical hurdles facing the singer who takes on this repertory. Her bright and often plangent vocal timbre coupled to a crystal-clear understanding of the words’ emotional import makes for a most pleasurable hour of listening.
The singer is superbly accompanied by Il pomo d’oro led by Antonello Manacorda.
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