She can sing! She can dance! She can act! But can she do justice to Mozart? The Mozart Album is a curious mix. It offers opera arias (including Susanna’s ‘Giunse alfin il momento… Al desio di chi t’adora’ and Despina’s ‘Una donna a quindici anni’), concert arias (‘Bella mia fiamma, addio!… Resta, o cara’ and ‘Oh, temerario Arbace!… Per quel paterno amplesso’), sacred music (Exsultate, jubilate), with the Don Giovanni-Zerlina duet (‘Là ci darem la mano’), in which she is joined by Bryn Terfel, thrown in for good measure.
Given de Niese’s expertise with Handel, it is surprising to hear her struggle with some of the florid passages in Exsultate, jubilate, the CD’s opening track. The two concert arias, on the other hand, are more successful and provide opportunities for thoughtful and nuanced characterisation. Also successful is ‘Quando avran fine omai… Padre, germani, addio!’, Ilia’s opening number from Idomeneo. Mindful of her soubrette Fach, de Niese has sensibly avoided some of the peaks of the Mozart soprano repertory (the arias for the Countess and Fiordiligi for example) and settled for the charming and pleasant foothills.