BRAVA BERGANZA! A birthday tribute

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BRAVA BERGANZA!
A birthday tribute to Teresa Berganza

Werke von / Works by
Bizet · de Falla · Mozart · Penella
Puccini · Rossini · Stravinsky

Italian Baroque Arias

Canciones españolas
Spanish Songs
Berganza · Domingo · Prey · Abbado
Böhm · Navarro · Ozawa
Roa · Sinopoli · Yepes a.o.
Int. Release 01 Mar. 2005
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0289 477 5489 3 ADD/DDD GB4
Teresa Berganza is of one of the most accomplished and versatile, as well as unquestionably one of the most individual, singers of the 20th century.


Track List

CD 1: Brava Berganza

Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946)
El sombrero de tres picos

Text: Gregorio Martínez Sierra

Part 1

Part 2

Teresa Berganza, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa

El amor brujo

Ballet by G. Martinez Sierra

Teresa Berganza, London Symphony Orchestra, García Navarro

La vida breve

Act 1

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Alicia Nafé, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, Alicia Nafé, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, Alicia Nafé, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Lucero Tena

Act 2

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Manuel Mairena, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

17.
0:00
3:19

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, Manuel Mairena, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras, Ramon Contreras, Alicia Nafé, Palomo Perez Inigo, Juan Pons, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

21.
0:00
3:41

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, José Carreras, Ramon Contreras, Palomo Perez Inigo, Juan Pons, Lucero Tena

Narciso Yepes, London Symphony Orchestra, Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras, Ramon Contreras, Alicia Nafé, Palomo Perez Inigo, Juan Pons, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, John McCarthy, Lucero Tena

Manuel Moreno Penella (1880 - 1939)
El gato montés

Rev. Miguel Roa

Act 1

Teresa Berganza, Veronica Villarroel, Plácido Domingo, Mabel Perelstein, Carlos Alvarez, Carlos Chausson, Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, Miguel Roa, 6 Ninos De La Escolania De Senora Del Recuerdo, Cesar Sanchez, Coro Titular del Teatro Lírico Nacional LA ZARZUELA, Ignacio Rodríguez

Total Playing Time 1:17:50

CD 2: Brava Berganza

Georges Bizet (1838 - 1875)
Carmen

Act 1

Teresa Berganza, The Ambrosian Singers, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Teresa Berganza, Plácido Domingo, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Act 2

Teresa Berganza, Alicia Nafé, Yvonne Kenny, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868)
Il barbiere di Siviglia

Ed. Alberto Zedda (1928-)

Act 1

Teresa Berganza, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Hermann Prey, Teresa Berganza, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Act 2

Teresa Berganza, Luigi Alva, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
La clemenza di Tito, K.621

Act 1

Act 2

Teresa Berganza, Staatskapelle Dresden, Karl Böhm

Gioacchino Rossini (1792 - 1868)
La Cenerentola

Act 2

Teresa Berganza, Renato Capecchi, Paolo Montarsolo, Margherita Guglielmi, Laura Zannini, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924)
Madama Butterfly

Act 2

Mirella Freni, Teresa Berganza, Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli

11.
0:00
3:08

Teresa Berganza, Juan Pons, José Carreras, Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli

Act 2

Juan Pons, José Carreras, Teresa Berganza, Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli

Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971)
Pulcinella Ballet in one Act

Revised Version of 1947

Teresa Berganza, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Teresa Berganza, Ryland Davies, John Shirley-Quirk, London Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado

Manuel de Falla (1876 - 1946)
Suite populaire Espagnole

17.
0:00
2:03

18.
0:00
3:00

19.
0:00
1:27

20.
0:00
1:05

21.
0:00
1:43

Narciso Yepes, Teresa Berganza

Total Playing Time 1:19:06

CD 3: Brava Berganza

Francesco Pietro Cavalli (1602 - 1676)
La Didone

Arranged by Raimond Leppard

Act 1

Giacomo Carissimi (1605 - 1674)
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 - 1725)
Se Florindo è fedele (from "La donna ancora è fedele")

Il Flavio

Antonio Caldara (1671 - 1736)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
L'Atenaide, RV702

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710 - 1736)
Teresa Berganza, Ricardo Requejo

Alfonso X El Sabio (1221 - 1284)
Teresa Berganza

Miguel de Fuenllana
Anonymous
Alonso de Mudarra (1510 - 1580)
Francesco de la Torre
Enriquez de Valderrábano
Don Luys Milan (1500 - 1562)
Juan de Triana
Alonso de Mudarra (1510 - 1580)
Juan del Encina (1468 - 1530)
24.
0:00
3:36

Juan Vazquez
Alonso de Mudarra (1510 - 1580)
Luys de Narváez (1530 - 1550)
Juan Vazquez
Teresa Berganza, Narciso Yepes

Alfonso X El Sabio (1221 - 1284)
Teresa Berganza

Total Playing Time 1:20:24

CD 4: Brava Berganza

Federico García Lorca (1898 - 1936)
Trece canciones espanolas antiguas

10.
0:00
2:12

13.
0:00
1:02

Narciso Yepes, Teresa Berganza

Enrique Granados (1867 - 1916)
La Maja dolorosa

Joaquín Pérez Turina (1882 - 1949)
22.
0:00
1:55

Jesus Guridi Bidaola (1886 - 1961)
Seis canzones castellanas

Xavier Montsalvatge (1912 - 2002)
Canciones negras

28.
0:00
2:05

Teresa Berganza, Felix Lavilla

Total Playing Time 1:17:44

This four-CD set, issued to coincide with Teresa Berganza's 70th birthday, is a mostly satisfying and joyful celebration of her long career, as well as her association with DG.

This wide-ranging selection of recordings demonstrates the versatility and high standards of this great Spanish mezzo.

Beloved Berganza! In any mental snapshot I conjure up of the voice, the first memory--images are, naturally enough, of its unique beauty ¿ its dark lustre, fine focus and sheer 'class'. An awesome array of 'negative positives' has characterized its working mechanism across the full length of a career now astonishingly long in duration: absence of wobble, flutter, surface impurities, line deformations, and an absolute avoidance of vulgarity, sucking up to an audience, appliqué effects. Equally significant are the 'positive positives' promoting in the listener an inimitable glow of happiness: the steadiness of vocal flow, the amazing flexibility and ease in florid music . . .

"Carmen":
Gerade die Abwesenheit vordergründiger Effekte und Extravaganzen macht dieses Porträt der verhängnisbringenden Zigeunerin zu einem zeitlosen, auch heute noch genießbaren Hörererlebnis, während manche andere, zu ihrer Zeit spektakuläre Einspielung heute längst ihren Reiz verloren hat.
Um solche Ergebnisse zu erzielen, braucht man freilich mehr als nur eine unprätentiöse Grundhaltung, mehr auch als jene unerschütterliche Gewissenhaftigkeit, mit der sich Teresa Berganza auf ihre Partien vorzubereiten pflegte (was im Fall der Carmen mehrere Jahre in Anspruch nahm). Erforderlich ist vor allem eine über die Maßen schöne und perfekt gepflegte Stimme -- womit Berganza wahrlich aufwarten kann: Pures Gold etwa ihre berühmten Aufnahmen spanischer Canciones und Lieder mit Narciso Yepes bzw. ihrem Mann, dem Pianisten Félix Lavilla; sie wandelt in diesem Repertoire auf den Spuren der kürzlich verstorbenen Victoria de los Angeles, die Kantilenen dieser heimatlich vertrauten Musik ebenso geschmeidig und verhalten-expressiv ausgestaltend wie ihre ältere Kollegin.

Un très grand merci à DG pour l'épatant recueil de 4 CD fêtant les 70 ans de notre bien-aimée Berganza . . . La Vida Breve et des extraits d'El Amor brujo et du Tricorne, irrésistibles: le vrai feu sombre et léger, le ton ardent d'une immense et unique chanteuse dans son propre arbre généalogique. On y rattacherait Carmen (trois airs avec Abbado), tant l'intégration, l'assimilation sont réussies, définitives . . . Merveilleux cadeau, indispensable.

Ni qué decir tiene el valor de estos dos regalos [un recital de arias barrocas italianas y otro de canciones españolas de la Edad Media y del Renacimiento], en los que la cantante está pletórica de medios vocales, cantando con una dicción exquisita y con un control absoluto de todos los elementos que definen su expresividad. ¿ Un esfuerzo que es puro disfrute y que, además, está llamado a convertirse en guía para estudiantes de canto.
Teresa Berganzain conversation with Rafael Banús

RB: Your earliest recordings for Deutsche Grammophon were La Cenerentola and Il barbiere di Siviglia. It was the first time Rossini was performed as intended, with the musical texts purged of all the traditional bad habits.

TB: Yes, and yet it was the same Rossini that I'd always sung; I didn't have to change anything. I continued to sing it exactly the way I'd learned to do with my teacher, Lola Rodríguez de Aragón, when I was 19. I sang what was written in the Ricordi score. Alberto Zedda's revisions were mainly in the orchestra, where there must have been many errors. He and Claudio Abbado kept me from singing some high notes that weren't written. Later, when everyone was still doing what they wanted with Rossini, putting in a high note where the score had a low note or a low note where there was a high one I had already begun my own "purification treatment".

RB: A bit later you made the film of the Barber of Seville with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle.

TB: First we did the performances and the recording at La Scala; then the film was shot in Salzburg and Munich. It was marvellous, even though Ponnelle worked us to death. But we did it with no sense of being on a schedule. We got to the Scala at ten in the morning, and sometimes we didn't leave until midnight. And Abbado was at every single rehearsal. The production was full of humour and fantasy, but without resorting to the usual nonsense, to easy laughs. I remember that in the storm scene there really was rain falling; I slipped and skidded all the way across the stage. Everyone broke out laughing because they thought it was planned; I thought I was going to kill myself. Ponnelle was very refined, with that good taste that's so French, and enormously gracious. In La Cenerentola he had me sing the final Rondò in that marvellous white dress. Everybody applauded so much that I couldn't tell if it was because I'd sung well or because Jean-Pierre had made me look so splendid. In any case, he knew how to impart great personality to the character of Angelina, which otherwise could seem a little prudish. The whole production was conceived as her dream.

RB: In 1979 you recorded La clemenza di Tito for the second time - with Karl Böhm.

TB: It was totally different from my first recording with István Kertész. This was the first time I'd sung with Karl Böhm, and his tempi were broader, a bit slower. But working with him was incredible. He made me record this highly dramatic role - right up to the first act finale when Sesto ends up setting the Capitol on fire ("Deh conservate, o dei, a Roma il suo splendor") - at ten in the morning, not really a suitable time for a singer. There was no other available moment. Fortunately it went well, because you never know how your voice is going to respond in that situation. But there's a photograph in which we're sitting together at a table and I'm aiming a finger at him as though I was going to murder him. He told me not to show it to anyone because they'd think he was a scoundrel. Böhm had a good sense of humour and he made a big fuss over me. There were also some fantastic singers like Julia Varady. I think the recording turned out very well.

RB: Now let's talk about Carmen...

TB: ... for which I prepared for several years. The director of the Edinburgh Festival, Peter Diamand, came to see me one day when I was singing in London and said: "Look, Teresina," - he always called me that, as well as piccolina and ragazzina, even though I was already a married woman with children - "I think we've reached the moment for you to do Carmen. It's now or never, because you're absolutely in your prime." I started in with my usual doubts, with my fear of making a mistake, but he gave me a list of conductors, stage directors and singers to choose from - even though he already had almost everything settled. I told him that of course we'd want Claudio Abbado and Plácido Domingo, who for me was the best Don José. For director I thought of Piero Faggioni, who started out as an actor and had an incredible technical command of stagecraft. When he offered me all of that, I said yes. I went off to Granada and stayed in the Sacromonte to learn about today's gypsies - to see if they were like the gypsies of the past. Some of the women, including young ones, were dressed in black and wore shawls, in Eastern fashion; they didn't show any cleavage. I soaked all that up, then read Mérimée, underlining everything to do with Carmen's character traits. Then I went to Paris to work with Janine Reiss, who is a fantastic opera coach. Carmen involved a personal change in my character, in my personality. Until then I'd always played "nice" roles, with none of the sheer force of this one. And making the recording was superb. One day when Plácido didn't have to sing, he came to the rehearsal anyway and stayed beside me, touching me, embracing me, in order to help me get more into the part.

RB: Then came Salud in La vida breve.

TB: We recorded it in London, and it was also a wonderful time. I had always sung Salud's arias in concert but had been afraid of doing the rest of the opera, because the score clearly indicates that it's for soprano, especially the duet. But I prepared the role intensively, working the high register of my voice, taking away some of the weight in the middle range. The result was this Vida breve, which seems to me quite splendid, with García Navarro's extremely passionate conducting. The role of Salud is filled with passion, tears, sadness and tenderness, but above all with love. This woman dies of love, like Dido. I'm delighted that the recording is being included in this album.

RB: El amor brujo was recorded at the same time.

TB: This is a very problematic piece. If a flamenco singer does it she won't be able to sing everything that's written; if a lyric singer does it she won't have the necessary flamenco touch, because you have to "tear" the voice, which is what I did when I sang it in Paris with Ataúlfo Argenta. I was only 20 then and didn't worry about vocal damage. But I think the recording with García Navarro has the gypsy style that Falla was after, the complete opposite of La vida breve. It's lovely to have the two works together, requiring two such different voices, one soprano, the other contralto. García Navarro was a very passionate man who greatly loved and cared for singers.

RB: Speaking of another of Falla's works, the Seven Popular Songs, it must be hard to give them both a folk and a cultivated touch at the same time.

TB: The markings in "Polo", for example, indicate that it's to be sung "freely, in flamenco style". "Ay" is a jipío, the lamenting cry that introduces a flamenco song, and it's very hard to capture it in musical notation. You have to know how the flamencos sing, that they don't use chest voice but instead aim the sound higher, in the nose or "mask", especially in pure flamenco. The "Nana" is a completely gypsy lullaby. All the Falla canciones are classics, but classics that have to be sung in the folk style. Of course they're originally with piano but have been very effectively orchestrated, particularly by Ernesto Halffter, Falla's closest disciple. I had the good fortune of recording them with Narciso Yepes. They come closer to folk music with the guitar than they do with orchestra.

RB: Madama Butterfly is a rarity in your repertoire.

TB: Karajan offered me the role of Suzuki in his recording and film of Butterfly. At the time I was singing all over the world and thought, mistakenly, that I couldn't give up my engagements. But when I saw Ponnelle's film, which was so beautiful, I regretted my decision enormously. So when Sinopoli called me I said to myself: this time I'm not going to miss out. And it was a lovely experience, because it gave me the chance to work in another musical style, and alongside one of the finest voices of all, that of my friend Mirella Freni, who for me quite simply is Cio-Cio-San. Our duet is a delight, because it's sung in Puccinian style, of course, but in a very pure, clean manner.

RB: Let's talk now about those discs of Spanish songs which have become absolute classics.

TB: We made the first record with Narciso Yepes in Madrid in 1974 (CD 3, Tracks 15-30). The programme is especially interesting because it includes almost all the songs with guitar accompaniment known at that time: still undiscovered were the ones by Manuel García, Sor and Martín y Soler, which I sang and recorded later. And, as a contrast, there are the songs by García Lorca, which are modern but with a folk flavour. Working with Narciso, who was always such an exceptional artist and friend, was fantastic, though also very delicate because a guitar and a voice together in front of a microphone can be treacherous. As for Félix Lavilla, we were together artistically for 20 years, and also privately - we have three children. He was always such an extreme perfectionist that whenever I sang over the groundwork he prepared for me so conscientiously it was as if he was carrying me in his arms. I think we performed the whole history of Spanish song together, and here in this set we have a good representation of that.

RB: For example the Canciones negras by Montsalvatge.
TB: Yes. I think it's a very good interpretation. Once when I was singing in Barcelona I met the composer and had him inscribe the score. He wrote - I don't know if I can say this - "to the best interpreter of my Canciones negras".

RB: There is another recording included in this album, one of Italian Baroque arias with Ricardo Requejo, a pianist less well known than he deserves to be.

TB: Every singer has had arie antiche as their basis. When I began singing I performed Monteverdi and Bach. You have to start out with the foundations, and those are the foundations of bel canto. The collaboration with Ricardo Requejo was also very interesting. We worked together for a long time.

RB: And, finally, El gato montés.

TB: It's just a brief part but a very beautiful one, the Gypsy's song. This was my last recording for Deutsche Grammophon, which had been like a family to me. Its recording engineers and technicians were every bit as fine musicians as the artists themselves, and they knew my voice almost better than I did. I am very happy that this album is being issued, because it represents one of the most beautiful and fulfilling periods of my life.

1/2005

The Art of Teresa Berganza

Teresa Berganza Vargas was born in Madrid on 16 March 1935, at house number 13 in the street bearing the name of the city's patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, in a working-class neighbourhood, near the church of the Virgen de la Paloma. She grew up during the terrible Civil War years and postwar period (her father was imprisoned for ideological reasons). In spite of that, she had a happy childhood and very quickly showed evidence of her exceptional musical gifts. At the Madrid Conservatory she studied piano, organ, harmony, composition and conducting. Her teachers there included Gerardo Gombau and Jesús Guridi and, for singing, Lola Rodríguez de Aragón, an Elisabeth Schumann pupil who kindled in Berganza a passion for the Lied as well as an extreme self-discipline, which would become one of the distinguishing features of her artistic path.

Her first recordings, chiefly of zarzuela, were made with the most brilliant conductor ever produced by Spain, Ataúlfo Argenta. In 1957 she appeared at Madrid's Ateneo with a programme displaying her special interests, including Schumann's cycle Frauenliebe und Leben and the Nursery songs by Mussorgsky. That same year, she married the Basque pianist Félix Lavilla and had her first international engagements: at RAI in Turin, where she was an adorable Dulcinea in Massenet's Don Quichotte, opposite Boris Christoff, and a seductive Isabella in a hilarious filmed production of L'italiana in Algeri, where she demonstrated her class as a Rossini singer. But her real breakthrough came shortly after that as Dorabella in Così fan tutte under the musical direction of Hans Rosbaud at Aix-en-Provence. There, during the festival's golden age, she established herself as an outstanding Mozartian.

At the Piccola Scala in Milan, Berganza sang in a variety of productions (Rossini's Comte Ory, Cesti's Orontea, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas), and in 1958 she made her Glyndebourne Festival début as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, alongside her compatriot and friend Pilar Lorengar. The stylishness and musicality of her Mozart, to which she brought a distinctive Latin temperament and Mediterranean colouring, opened doors to Berganza at all the great temples of the Salzburg master's art. Meanwhile she was making a major contribution to the renaissance of Rossini's works (La Cenerentola in Naples, the Barber in Tel Aviv, Italiana in Dallas - where she also sang in Cherubini's Medea with Callas). In 1959 she made her Vienna State Opera début in Figaro, conducted by Herbert von Karajan and produced by Günther Rennert. Other milestones in her opera career include the Holland Festival (in Figaro and the Barber with Giulini), Covent Garden (Figaro with Solti), the Chicago Lyric Opera (the Barber and Ravel's L'Heure espagnole with another compatriot she greatly admired, Alfredo Kraus), the Rome Opera (the Barber with Giulini, Cenerentola with Vittorio Gui), Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires (Così, Clemenza di Tito and Figaro with Maag), the Metropolitan of New York (Figaro with Lorengar and Freni), RAI of Rome (Figaro with Mehta), San Francisco (the Barber and Cenerentola with Mackerras and in Ponnelle's production of Così).

In the 1970s she starred in legendary productions at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and La Scala of the Rossini triptych comprising Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola and L'italiana in Algeri, conducted by Abbado and produced by Ponnelle. A few years later, her Carmen would mark a major turning point in her career: following her début in the role at the 1977 Edinburgh Festival, collaborating with Abbado again and with director Piero Faggioni, she assumed the part in seminal productions of Bizet's opera by Ponnelle and Pier Luigi Pizzi, and that led to further dramatic roles, such as Charlotte in Werther and Salud in La vida breve.

At least as important as her operatic career has been Teresa Berganza's dedication with body and soul to the world of song. In this realm she has cultivated not only Spanish music but also the German Lied, the Italian aria da camera and the French mélodie, in such venues as the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Vienna Musikverein, to name but two.

An Idyllic Relationship
Teresa Berganza's association with Deutsche Grammophon extended over two fruitful decades and represents practically all of her finest creations. It began in 1971 with La Cenerentola, soon followed by Il barbiere di Siviglia, both with Claudio Abbado: recordings whose elegance has made them permanent touchstones in the Rossini discography. The Madrid-born mezzo-soprano brings superbly stylish singing to two of the composer's most delightful portraits; the young, pensive Angelina and the cunning intriguer Rosina.

Another cornerstone of the opera catalogue is her Carmen recording, in which the singer is again partnered by Claudio Abbado, bringing all his refinement and theatrical experience to Bizet's score. Berganza revolutionized the image of the character and made it her own with a sensuality and a fatalism that avoid any hint of vulgarity. She also drew a certain connection between the immortal tobacco worker from Seville and Salud in La vida breve, recording the Falla with one of the finest Spanish conductors, García Navarro, who galvanized his London musicians to the point of making them sound Hispanic. Berganza brings an unusual heart-rending quality to the part of Salud. The chapter in her career devoted to Falla also includes a no less intense version of El amor brujo and a brief but pithy contribution to the radiant recording of El sombrero de tres picos conducted by Seiji Ozawa.

Berganza's voice is featured in another extraordinary ballet, Stravinsky's Pulcinella, in the magnificent recording by Claudio Abbado. The conductor brings out all the score's irresistible rhythm and modernity, with constant winks at the past, while the singer fills it with Neapolitan passion. From this vibrant, delightful Stravinsky we move to Madama Butterfly, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli, who offered a new and personal vision of Puccini's score, luxuriously cast. Teresa Berganza succeeds in making the role of Suzuki into a confident, amorous presence, expressing in every single phrase the profound sadness of the geisha's tragedy.

In collaboration with the distinguished Mozartian Karl Böhm (in one of the Austrian conductor's last recordings), Berganza committed to disc for the second time her celebrated interpretation of the role of Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, a work unfairly regarded as one of Mozart's minor achievements until she helped restore its reputation. And no less indispensable is her precious contribution to the world of song, from the Italian Baroque Arias with Ricardo Requejo - an exquisite collection here being made available internationally on CD for the first time - to the Spanish songs recorded in her absolute prime with Félix Lavilla and Narciso Yepes. They round off this portrait of one of the most accomplished and versatile, as well as unquestionably one of the most individual, singers of the 20th century.
Rafael Banús
1/2005