Donizetti: The Three Queens / Radvanovsky, Frizza, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago presents The Three Queens, a program that brings together the finales of Gaetano Donizetti’s Tudor trilogy, showcasing three of the most fascinating heroines of opera history. These extraordinary women are interpreted by soprano star Sondra Radvanovsky, who performs them together with an excellent ensemble of soloists under the baton of Donizetti specialist Riccardo Frizza. Singing these three breathtaking roles on one night is an enormous challenge for any soprano, and this live recording captures all the excitement of this exceptional achievement.
Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious opera houses. Riccardo Frizza is among the most sought-after conductors for nineteenth-century Italian opera, while Sondra Radvanovsky is one of the most in-demand singers of her generation on both sides of the Atlantic. All three make their PENTATONE debut with The Three Queens.
This document may be the finest work I’ve ever heard of Radvanovsky, in what may be her crowning achievement. It is evident that she has not only put in the hard work and constant refining to achieve this, but it should be noted that the soprano is 50 here, and the voice is still in its prime, full, unblemished, and more secure than ever.
A few minor quibbles aside, the Mad Scene from Anna Bolena shows Radvanovsky consummately responsive to the shifting moods in the recitative, with a splendid high C on ‘infiorato,” and with more rhythmic impetus to the emotions of the text than I heard in the past.
The “Al dolce guidami” is gorgeous, long-lined, and exquisitely shaded, and she fines down the tone most impressively without it turning white and core-less.
Here also is one of the best performances of Maria Stuarda’s last half hour on record. Radvanovsky has the true dramatic soprano and grandeur of tone to fill out the Scottish queen’s 3 scenas: the prayer “Deh! Tu di un’umile preghiera—beautifully poignant, with some lines excitingly raised; the penitent “Di un cor che muore,” and most of all the concluding “Ah, se un giorno ritorte,” where the soprano effortlessly unleashes the fullness of her voice, which abets Maria’s mounting urgency with awesome, majestic power.
The conductor, Riccardo Frizza, leading the Lyric Opera of Chicago forces, is a true ally to his star soprano: he accompanies and accentuates her singing in the most positive of ways, providing Radvanovsky with unerring support.
The gatefold, 2 CD set is truly luxurious packaging. The overtures to all three of the operas and choral introductions are included, which may not interest everyone, but it does capture the sense of a complete evening occasion. The booklet contains a welcoming introduction by the general director Anthony Freud, and a very warm, sincere one by Radvanovsky herself; and Roger Pines provides an engaging, fascinating history of the operas. Full texts and translations are provided.
Highly recommended. Radvanovsky is very special here!
-- Parterre.com (Niel Rishoi)
Sondra Radvanovsky is essentially a lyric-spinto soprano, but one capable of summoning the lung power for the kind of long-lined legato singing required to effectively deliver in Roberto Devereux the aria Vivi, ingrato and the many messa-di-voce demanded throughout the role’s range. On the other hand, she can surmount climactic moments with total aplomb. Her coloratura technique is inexhaustible. Her musicality, her elegant phrasing, her intelligent choice of embellishments, her idiomatic understanding and delivery of the text define Sondra Radvanovsky as one of the great singers of our time.
-- Rafael's Music Notes
Release Date: March 04, 2022
Catalog Number: PTC5186970
Composer: Gaetano Donizetti
Orchestra/Ensemble: Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra & Chorus