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By Joel Kasow

PARIS, 16 JANUARY 2005—Victoria de los Angeles was one of the most generous artists of her time in a career spanning fifty years. From the time she won a competition for singers in Geneva in 1947, which led to invitations worldwide, her appearances covered the globe. An operatic debut in her native Barcelona in 1941 as Mimi was only the start of a significant operatic career that reached its apex at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera in the 1950s with such portrayals as both Rossini’s and Mozart’s Rosina, Mélisande, Manon, Desdemona, culminating in appearances at the Bayreuth Festival as Elizabeth. Perhaps more important to the soprano were her appearances on the concert stage, where her recitals engaged an entire auditorium, with impeccable performances of Schubert or Schumann lieder, Duparc or Fauré melodies, Handel arias, with the inevitable second half of Spanish song. Audiences waited for the encores, particularly the final one in which she emerged with guitar and accompanied herself.

A significant recorded legacy will ensure that de los Angeles is not forgotten, whether as Rosina or Manon or Mimi – recorded in haste in New York with Jussi Bjoerling and Sir Thomas Beecham – or as a recitalist of genius. The soprano recorded almost exclusively for EMI, and it suffices to listen to a four-CD compilation of Spanish music (CDH 7 63495 2) to have an idea of the singer’s range in what we unjustly think of as a limited repertoire. Then listen to an aria recital (CDH 7 63495 2) in which she demonstrates her exhilaration in the rondo from Cenerentola, sings "Ernani, involami" with impeccable control, knocks us over with "L’altra notte", every track supreme. Then listen to her CD of zarzuela arias (CDM-7 69078 2) from which I will indicate a single track that knocks me over every time I hear it, the "Couplets babilónicos" from Lleó’s La Corte del Faraón.


Joel Kasow is the Operanet editor at Culturekiosque.com

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