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A Rumanian in Istanbul

Lütfi Kırdar International Convention & Exhibition Centre
01/09/2020 -  
Giuseppe Verdi: La traviata: Prelude to Act I – Les Vêpres siciliennes: Overture
Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur: “Io son l’umile ancella”
Pietro Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo
Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly: “Un bel dì vedremo”
Alfredo Catalani: La Wally: “Ebben? Me andrò lontano”
Georges Bizet: Carmen: Act I Prelude & Habanera
Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila, Opus 47: Bacchanale
Anton Panin: Până când nu te iubeam
Ferit Tüzün: Esintiler: III. Allegro vivace
Ernesto de Curtis: Non ti scordar di me

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano)
Borusan Istanbul Filarmoni Orkestrası, Ludovic Morlot (conductor)

A. Gheorghiu (© Cosmin Gogu)

Enjoying superstar status for a quarter century, Angela Gheorghiu’s charisma has not diminished one iota. Her expressive interpretation is her greatest asset. Unlike many of today’s operatic divas, Gheorghiu knows what suits her voice and does not stray from it. Every word she sings matters and is given distinct weight and colour. Indeed, she has limited her repertoire to languages she masters and it is obvious that she understands every nuance in what she sings.

This is never more apparent than in her signature aria, “Io son l’umile ancella” from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. Though Cilea’s musical output is almost entirely mediocre, this aria can attain the sublime. It is true that the many detractors of this work claim that it’s a vehicle for aging divas to show off, but sopranos at the height of their careers have nonetheless made their mark in this role, notably Olivero, Gencer, Tebaldi and Scotto. Gheorghiu’s emphasis on words such as “Morrò” sent shivers down one’s spine. “Ebben... Me andrò lontano,” the famous aria from Catalani’s La Wally was another favourite from the verismo repertoire that Gheorghiu chose for this recital. She sang it movingly and expressively, though she sounded slightly tired toward the end.

Dramatically less convincing was “Un bel di” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Though vocally perfect, one could not be totally convinced of the heroine’s fragility. Gheorghiu was playful and seductive in Carmen’s Habanera and her French diction impressive. An homage to the soprano’s homeland, a Romanian song by Anton Panin was sweet but not vocally demanding. Likewise, De Curtis’s Non ti scodar di me was a pleasant foray into popular music, as was one of the two encores, Agustín Lara’s Granada, which Gheorghiu sang with panache. The other encore was “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. It was technically flawless and enthusiastically received by the public in this sold-out concert.

Some of the orchestral pieces were more exciting than others. Best conducted were the overture to Les Vêpres siciliennes and the Bacchanal from Samson et Dalila. The light piece by Turkish composer Ferit Tüzün was a thoughtful offering to the public. In all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Ossama el Naggar



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