Angela Gheorghiu pays tribute to Maria Callas in this collection of verismo arias closely associated with La Divina. Gheorghiu is no more the “Next Callas” than any other soprano, but in terms of repertoire and prima donna glamour, she’s arguably the best qualified for a venture such as this.
Gheorghiu is in strong form, if not quite as versatile as her illustrious predecessor. She’s a resplendently flighty Nedda, revels in the lachrymose possibilities of Le Cid and Medea, and is of course marvellous as Violetta, a role which is as much hers as Callas’s these days.
The breathy girlishness of Marguerite’s Jewel Song and Mimì’s Donde lieta is less appealing, however, while Delilah needs a smokier, more seductive timbre than she can muster. Comparisons aside, though, this stands alone as a solid representation of Gheorghiu’s artistry – sometimes mannered, sometimes compelling and very pretty – with Armiliato mostly following her lead.
There’s just one oddity on this album: a digitally manipulated “duet” between Gheorghiu and, yes, Callas, singing Carmen’s Habanera. It’s a strange idea and frankly unnecessary, but it’s not quite as kitschy as it could have been, and shouldn’t deter those keen to hear Gheorghiu in the rest of the repertoire on offer here.