ELĪNA GARANČA Habanera
BARBIERI El barberillo de Lavapiés – Canción de Paloma
BERNSTEIN Candide – I Am Easily Assimilated
BIZET Carmen – Près des remparts de Séville*; Les tringles des sisters tintalent; L’amour est un oiseau rebelled; L’amour est un enfant Bohéme
FALLA El amor bujo – Canción del amor dolido; Siete canciones populares españolas – Nana (arr. Rey), Jota
LEHÁR Zigeunerliebe – Hör’ ich Zymbalklänge
LORENTE El Barquillero – Romanza de Socorro ‘Cunado está tan honda’
LUNA El niño judío – De España vengo
OBRADORS Canciones clásicas españolas – El vito (arr. Cuello)
RAVEL Vocaluse en Forme de Habanera (arr.Hoerée)
REY Canción del amor
SERRANO Le Algeria del battalion – Canción de la gitana
Elīna Garanča (mezzo soprano), *Roberto Alagna (tenor), Coro Filarmonico del Regio di Torino, National Symphony Orchestra of RAI / Karel Mark Chichon. Deutsche Grammophon 477 8776
The considerable success of Elīna Garanča’s onstage portrayal of a certain Spanish Gypsy from the operatic canon is the obvious impetus behind this entrancing and imaginative collection.
She offers a musical tour that encompasses both the Spanish and the Gypsy dimensions of the femme fatale in question and takes the singer through four languages. (Italian is not among them, however much one might enjoy hearing “Stride la vampa” – not her Fach – sung with the ease and succulent tone she displays here.) On the Gypsy side is ‘Hör’ ich Zymbalklänge’ (Léhar’s Zigeunerliebe) with its characteristic violin obbligato and rhythmically earthy concluding czardas, the latter sung with robust-voiced abandon and capped with a high C. In another mood is the languid ‘I dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls’ (Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl), sung with a fluent simplicity that proves especially touching in the captivating melodic extension at the end of each of the two strophes.
Spanish pieces understandably outnumber Gypsy ones, with art song, zarzuela and flamenco – overlapping categories to be sure – all represented. Here the range is from the sprightly, Offenbach-like ‘Canción de Paloma’ (Barbieri’s El barberillo de Lavapiés) through Montsalvatge’s beguilingly soporific lullaby ‘Canción de cuna para dormir a un negrito’ to José María Gallardo del Rey’s upbeat, pop-oriented ‘Cancíon del amor,’ which profits from the composer’s guitar playing, as do the other flamenco-oriented selections, such as Obradors’s colorful, keenly sung ‘El vito.’ Garanča’s sensitive shading helps capture the shifting emotions of the Spanish Song from Luna’s El niño judío, and her lower register in Falla’s ‘Canción del amor dolido’ (El amor brujo) is seductive but not chesty.
Garanča sounds comfortable with the Spanish idiom – it may help that her husband is from Gibraltar – but she is a little stiff in ‘I am easily assimilated’ (Bernstein’s Candide) or perhaps just too young. Purchasers attracted to the disc by its title will be rewarded not just by Carmen’s familiar Habanera but also by an earlier, rejected version, which is entirely different musically. The piece is more French in quality, somewhat flighty, yet also disturbing – it would be at home in a dark moment of Les contes d’Hoffmann. Both Habaneras plus the other Carmen extracts – the Sequidille (with a smitten Roberto Alagna) and the Gypsy Song – are marked by the subtle way with words and inherent femininity that make Garanča’s characterization in the theater compelling.
Conductor Karel Mark Chichon and the RAI orchestra adapt themselves to the disc’s shifting musical styles quite handsomely.