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The Australian soprano here works her way through most of the major soprano arias by Puccini – though she wisely selects (from the composer’s final opera) Liù’s solos rather than Turandot’s, which require a different voice, and she discards Minnie’s short piece in Fanciulla. Two of Puccini’s songs – ‘È l’uccellino’ and ‘Sole e amore’ (the latter recycled in La bohème) – are added in. Everything she performs suits her rich and individual lyric soprano very well. Throughout, there’s a complex colour range on display, and Barker’s keen sense of style is evident – these are characters and situations she has thought through, and she applies her tone with precision and imagination. The performances are crowned, wherever Puccini asks for them, with glamorous and full-blooded high notes, though her delicate, soft singing is equally appealing. She has the considerable advantage of Richard Bonynge as conductor, offering sensitivity and fine balance, and there’s impeccable playing from the State Orchestra of Victoria.

George Hall Read the full review on Agora Classica

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