A DIVAne Discovery
During a recent image search I stumbled upon The Fool and the Opera, a blog that accompanies a radio show serving up opera for beginners to the Melbourne audience. I have this blogger to thank for inadvertently introducing me to a wonderful operatic artist, one I had never heard of, let alone seen LIVE.
My discovery was soprano Paula Almerares. She certainly deserves more attention and awareness in the States. According to her website, she made her debut at the Teatro Colón in ’93, as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, sharing the stage with Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus, and conducted by Julius Rudel.
Not surprisingly, she was awarded “The Best Argentine Singer” by the Argentine Association of Musical Critics and was the winner at the Belvedere’s International Competition in Vienna, in ’93.
She was invited by Domingo to perform L’elisir d’amore in Washington, D.C. with him. She has sung Il Barbiere di Siviglia at The Met, conducted by Yves Avel and Bruno Campanela.
If I were to compare her qualities to the greats, I’d say she has some shares some of those of Gencer, Caballé, and de los Angeles. You can clearly hear she was affected by those artists, although not in a copy-cat manner. Since I can’t speak to her art via LIVE experiences, I highlight the qualities I see in her online audio/video excerpts. These don’t give a sense of vocal size, and only offer part of the complete picture, but at least provide a relatively true glimpse.
The below video of Non so le tetre immagini, from Verdi’s rarity Il Corsaro is ravishing. She has a dark, almost mezzo tonal quality, but with gossamer high notes that somehow emerge radiantly. She appears to be a somewhat wispy, delicate performer, with a graceful stage demeanor recalling Moffo. I love that she so savors this aria that she performs much of it with her eyes closed, something perhaps only Dessay would dare to do. It is an appropriately contemplative, inward, and personal approach. It appears to be from 2001, in Lecce, Italy.:
Next we see her as Liú, at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, singing easily my favorite Puccini aria: Signore, Ascolta! She is a bit wanting in characterization and truly operatic-scaled personality, and as a result I imagine she’s not best suited to higher voltage roles, but possesses the plangent tone I most highly prize, and projects a sincere longing.:
And, finally her Je veux vivre, from R&J. This is a far less soubrettish rendition of this aria than we are used to, but a welcome one! When I compared this to most other contemporary renditions of this aria (on youtube and elsewhere), it comes out the clear winner for its believability and freshness.
I’d love to see/hear her in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Linda di Chamounix, Die Zauberflote (Pamina), Luisa Miller, or I Puritani (these first three noted as current rep on her website).