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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Album review: Spectacular Rossini arias from Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak

By John Terauds on April 17, 2013

(Piotr Skrzypek photo)
(Piotr Skrzypek photo)

It’s a bel canto sort of day in Toronto, with tonight’s opening of  Lucia di Lammermoor at the Four Seasons Centre. It’s a great excuse to mention Bel Raggio, a new Decca album of soprano arias from the operas of Gioachino Rossini, fabulously sung by Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds

belraggioKurzak has a flourishing international career — she is stepping out as Marie in Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment at the Vienna State Opera at the end of the month — but for her second release for Decca she patriotically returned home to record with Sinfonia Varsovia and the Warsaw Chamber Choir, all conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi.

There is even a bit of Polish content in the music — in an aria from Rossini’s Sigismondo, a reportedly unstageable affair from 1814 about the King of Poland.

The album is a mix of well-known and obscure excerpts from nine operas, including “Dunque io son…” from The Barber of Seville.

Kurzak is brethtaking, tossing spectacular cascades in the air like a Las Vegas fountain. She does it with seeming ease. But far more satisfying is how she can shade her limitless coloratura with a wide range of emotion — the mark of a true pro.

That she gets fine support from the orchestra, chorus and, above all, Morandi, makes this a treat from start to finish.

The CD booklet includes all the texts and translations.

You can find out a lot more about the album here. Despite the fact that Decca’s site says that the international release date is in June, the album is available now.

Here is the sequence from Act I of Semiramide that opens the album:

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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