Puccini: Soprano Arias
There’s no doubt about it. Adrianne Pieczonka’s diary for the next few months makes it clear that this soprano, long celebrated for her Wagner and Strauss roles across the world, is now also in international demand for the Italian repertoire. She is singing Tosca in San Francisco, Desdemona in Munich, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra at the Met (alongside Plácido Domingo) and the soprano solo in Verdi’s Requiem at New York’s Carnegie Hall. None of this should surprise us, as her vocal line has always displayed the legato qualities we associate with the bel canto, while her diction is exemplary. It is thus perfectly logical that her new recital for ORFEO – her second – should be a programme of purely Puccini. Adrianne Pieczonka’s foray into the soprano roles of this master from Lucca takes us from his debut opera Le Villi to his late work Turandot. Yearning, love and death take their turn here – sometimes emerging all at once. In these monologues and surging ariosos, Adrianne Pieczonka’s unerring dramatic instinct allows her on the one hand to make full use of her glittering, radiant soprano voice with its blossoming top register, and on the other its delicate, matt colourings and nuances too. Yet she still manages throughout to achieve a slim, yearning tone without any excess of the pathos that one sometimes hears in Puccini today. All these musical precepts are audibly shared here by Dan Ettinger at the helm of the Munich Radio Orchestra. Thus, although she can offer with ease the dramatic power necessary for the title roles of Madama Butterfly or Tosca, Adrianne Pieczonka still remains true to the lyrical ideal – whether in Lauretta’s “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi, in which we can all but see the twinkle in her eye, or in the discreet sorrow of the protagonist of Suor Angelica, the sophistication of Magda in La Rondine or the soulful phrases of a Mimì or a Liù that are so beloved by the public. Tosca’s prayer has become an acknowledged highpoint in the repertoire of Adrianne Pieczonka, though the same should now be said of the whole role itself. She may have famously borrowed the jewellery of Maria Callas to sing Tosca, but she needs no borrowed plumes. For as we all can hear on this CD, Adrianne Pieczonka has herself emerged as an utterly independent Puccini singer of the first rank.