Gabriella Di Laccio’s debut recital disc is a frustrating one. The Brazilian coloratura soprano’s technique is solid, it’s an attractive voice, and she has a feel for the Italian language. That said, this recording of just six arias is neither musicologically adventurous nor deeply interpreted. A celebrated baroque specialist in her home country, she never disappoints technically, but the result is short of noteworthy.
Her strongest performance is the album’s opener, Vivaldi’s barnstorming Armatae face, et anguibus. Di Laccio meets the demands of the aria with ease, Vagaus’ call to arms appropriately ferocious. The same can’t be said of the second track, the regularly programmed Agitata da due venti from the same composer. It’s a reading curiously devoid of emotion, Constanza’s inner turmoil only superficially telegraphed in puzzling emphases of text. While the B section picks up a bit, there simply isn’t much agitata in Di Laccio’s reading. Rounding out the album’s Vivaldi offering is the tempestuous Siam navi all’onde algenti, another showcase for her formidable technique – yet it suffers from the same lack of dramatic insight.
This problem is particularly evident when we get to the set of Handel arias, some of the repertoire’s most musty gems. Lascia ch’io pianga is well done, if again not particularly moving – one wishes there was more attention given to the musical line rather than individual notes. However, it’s a nice departure from the fast and furious pace of the first three arias. Things pick up dramatically with the recitative to Piangeró la sorte mia. While not a definitive reading – you feel di Laccio holding back – there is a clearer sense of text and dramatic conviction. One just wishes this was maintained for the aria proper: individual phrases come at the cost of the musical line as with Lascia, the B section lacks the ferocity and despair you’d expect of Cleopatra in a tight spot, and the return to the A section seems more like a musical exercise than truly born of any dramatic impetus. Cleopatra’s evergreen Da Tempeste concludes proceedings – while impressively sung, there’s no sense of the restored queen’s relief or joy. More like a vocalise, it’s an apt summation of the album’s problems.