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Recordings

27 Aug 2011

Nino Machaidze: Romantic Arias

The back cover of soprano Nino Machiadze’s debut solo recital from Sony Classical quotes her as describing the disc’s selection of arias as “my world, my successes to date and my hopes for the future.”

Romantic Arias

Nino Machiadze, soprano. Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Conductor: Michele Mariotti.

Sony Classical 784174 [CD]

$11.99  Click to buy

The first and last phrases are the sort of non-specific, almost esoteric utterances one might expect from artists asked to speak about their work, but the middle phrase gets right to the point. Machiadze has had a fairly stunning rise to stardom since she was chosen to replace Anna Netrebko in a high-profile Salzburg Festival assignment, opposite Rolando Villazón (she was Juliette to his Roméo in the 2008 staging of Gounod’s opera). She has done a smattering of classic French roles — the disc features her Massenet Manon as well as two Juliette arias. Beyond those, she has concentrated on the three great bel canto composers: Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini. And that is the music found on this disc.

The recording finds her more impressive in bel canto. While not unpleasing, in the French repertoire the tart — some might say acidic — edge to Machiadze’s voice doesn’t always suit the music or the role. In “Adieu, notre petite table” she shows she can scale down her voice and project the appropriate mood, but that tenderness some singers bring to this aria isn’t felt. Juliette’s “poison/potion” aria also comes across as forced in its initial fervor, bordering on hysteria, and the ruminative section should be more deeply felt.

Turn to Donizetti’s Lucia in her opening scene, and that tartness adds piquancy to the emotional register. Machiadze’s version certainly wouldn’t eclipse those of other sopranos who are known for this role. She doesn’t have Sutherland’s voluptuousness or the interior drama of Callas. Machiadze falls between the two, the tone precise, lines well-sustained, and a sense of restraint in the characterization, rather than an absence of feeling. In a lesser-known aria, that restraint leads to a certain blandness (as in the track from Bellini’s Adelson e Salvini). Machiadze comes into her own in the disc’s faster numbers, frolicking through the coloratura and capping the scenes with fiercely attacked high notes. The Donizetti scenes from La Fille du Regiment and Linda di Chamounix show her at her best.

With fine support from conductor Michele Mariotti and Teatro Comunale of Bologna orchestra, Ms. Machiadze enjoys a rare distinction these days in even having a recorded recital disc. If the totality of the performances doesn’t quite suggest that she is anyone near her full potential as an artist, the disc still provides plenty of reason o believe that she’ll be adding to her “successes” on the world’s opera stages.

Chris Mullins

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