Born in 1945, Frederica von Stade – who auditioned for the Met on a $50 bet – is considered one of the world’s most accomplished mezzo-sopranos. This 4CD set celebrates her unique voice and spans the incredibly broad spectrum of styles for which she is known.
The compilation includes von Stade’s recording debut, an unusual and eclectic choice of arias and duets with Judith Blegen, such as Mozart’s chamber-scale arrangement of ‘Non so più’. With a disc dedicated to Italian opera, in which Monteverdi’s neglected Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria of 1639 is accorded equal status alongside Rossini’s better-known bel canto works, von Stade’s far-reaching programme extends into CD4’s song recital – where her affinity for French repertoire comes to the fore. Also featuring gems such as Carol Hall’s endearing Jenny Rebecca, it offers a stark contrast to the disc of Mahler song-cycles, in which the singer achieves a particularly nostalgic tone.
Von Stade’s honey-coated, light voice was, in its time, a fresh alternative to those of powerhouse mezzos like Marilyn Horne. Full of dramatic characterisation and detailing a fascinating assortment of music, this collection demonstrates how skilfully the singer bent the standard recording format in order to serve the repertoire that she excelled in.
New booklet note by US opera writer David Patrick Stearns.