The New Zealand-born Kiri Te Kanawa’s lyric soprano voice and captivating stage presence have, throughout her operatic career, won her critical acclaim and a multitude of devoted fans. Audiences have continually been drawn to her natural ability to bring characters to life on stage, and this effortless versatility is brilliantly captured on this recording – a selection of ten of the greatest soprano arias, by two composers whose works Te Kanawa has always excelled at performing.
Drawn from classic Italian operas, the arias that make up this programme encompass a broad spectrum of themes, from tragedy and loss to the expression of love. Puccini’s ‘Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore’, for example, sees Tosca plead with God over the fate of her beloved, while in ‘Tu che le vanità’, from Verdi’s Don Carlo, the desolate Elisabetta expresses a longing for death to end her sorrows. In these arias – and in further songs from La traviata (‘È strano!…Ah, fors’ è lui’), La bohème (‘Quando me’n vo’ soletta per la via’) and Madama Butterfly (‘Un bel dì vedremo’), among others – a common thread is the extreme emotional state of each character, prime material for a performer as skilled as Te Kanawa.
A reminder of the great soprano’s artistry and intuitive ability to interpret the leading operatic roles, this classic recording of Italian arias will delight opera enthusiasts. On the recording’s original release Gramophone stated, ‘It is a pleasure to recommend this programme of Verdi and Puccini arias without reservation. The beautiful voice has never sounded better and the clear well-balanced recording allows us to hear the expressive pointing of meaning and characterization to perfection.’
Recordings made in 1981
New booklet note by Mike Ashman, exploring the background of each aria and the recital’s theme of ‘women on the verge’.
“Several outright successes in Te Kanawa's 1981 Verdi/Puccini collection, notably the Rondine and Manon Lescaut. Other items need a bit more weight.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.