All Time Coloratura

I’m Already Getting Excited About Sondra Radvanovsky

Posted in COC by cToronto on June 4, 2010

I recently spent some time getting more familiar with the COC’s upcoming season. When it was first announced several months ago, I was most excited about the prospect of seeing Nixon in China and Ariadne auf Naxos. Upon doing some more digging, however, Aida is now in the running for my “most anticipated” list – and the reason is that I will be seeing Sondra Radvanovsky in action.

She’s been getting quite a bit of buzz in the internet opera community. The New York Times has been full of praise for her “gleaming, silvery voice” in recital and her “intensely expressive and musically honest performance” in Il Trovatore last year, which was enough to pique my interest. Widely-read Milan-based blog Opera Chic said of Radvanovsky that “she’s one of the best sopranos rocking 19th century Italian opera today, scoring bulletproof reviews from every venue she visits”.  Then, a few days ago, my favourite opera blog Parterre Box reviewed her new recital disc, and suggested that of today’s Verdi sopranos, Radvanovsky is the most likely to become “legendary”. The review, by Valmont, is full of praise:

But what really excites me about her singing is its uniqueness. I love when you hear a singer and know, after only a few bars, who that special timbre belongs to — think of the list in the first paragraph. That is indeed the definition of  “memorable,” and Ms. Radvanovsky’s voice is memorable to say the least. The earthy, smoky, almost husky middle and lower voice blossom into a powerful and shining upper register with a golden color over which she has wonderful control.

And yet in all that beauty, Ms. Radvanovsky can find a vicious anger, as seen in a passage many sopranos under-emphasized, the  “Maledizione!” at the end of “Pace, pace.” The ringing top edges on madness, and all sense of time and beat falls away into a desperate curse.

This prompted me to check her out for myself on YouTube. Listening to this clip made reminded me of the recordings that helped Verdi “click” for me – the Price/Cossotto/Milnes Trovatore and Forza recordings that turn the material’s trashiness into something glorious.

I never thought I’d be getting this excited about a production of Aida – as an opera, it doesn’t crack my top 20 – but aside from that brief time in NYC, I’m used to only being able to see the buzzed-about singers in expensive recital tours rather than mainstage productions. A vocal instructor here in Toronto told me a few years ago that she never bothered with the COC since the Met is only a short flight away. Now it’s payback: a few of the Parterre Box commenters suggest that Radvanovsky’s Aida will be worth making a special trip into Toronto!

5 Responses

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  1. Gale said, on June 5, 2010 at 7:04 am

    That’s an excellent recordiing, Cecily. Thanks for sharing it. You know, that woman’s comment about never bothering with the COC as though it couldn’t compete with the Met speaks to such a limited, elitist viewpoint. Think of all the wonderful productions she may have missed as a result.

    • Cecily said, on June 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

      Yeah, it rankled a bit when she said it. I’ve had wonderful experiences at the COC and terrible ones at the Met – and even if that wasn’t the case, having a “world’s best or nothing” attitude is pretty destructive to enjoyment, I find.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Delos Music, Cecily. Cecily said: New post about Sondra Radvanovsky, a Verdi soprano who is getting tons of buzz: […]

  3. James said, on June 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    It is truly a fantastic recording. Yikes – to be honest, I have been obsessed with it ever since I begin reviewing it for my blog. She has such an amazing way with Verdi.

    Here were my thoughts on Verdi Arias:

    • Cecily said, on June 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      I can’t believe I haven’t even listened to the recording yet (only dug up some things on youtube). Time to remedy that.

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