Edita Gruberova's aria concert at the Budapest Congress Centre (Hungary), 30 Jan 97
orchestra: Magyar Állami Hangversenyzenekar
conductor: Friedrich Haider
L' Unica proved herself once again of being able to keep her audience spellbound for an entire evening, two and a half hours to be precise, and offered an enjoyable selection of arias and scenes from operas closely related to her appearances on opera stages.
The evening started with Bel raggio lusinghier from Rossini's Semiramide,
and continued, after the Forza del destino overture, with Lucia's aria
Regnava nel silenzio... Quando rapito in estasi from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.
It was truly revelatory to hear Gruberova's account of Semiramide's aria in the
Budapest concert after experiencing it on record and in performances during the
past 15 years. Her voice was perfectly focused and expressive as always, but
what makes Gruberova the only singer today capable of conveying Semiramide's
feelings convincingly to the listener is her amazingly inventive and touching
use of the text. Langui, spari - just to cite two details of her undeniable
mastery in combining words and notes.
Gruberova's Lucia must be as celebrated as her Zerbinetta or Puritani Elvira, but
Lucia might provide the listener with an even more shocking musical experience
than the other two heroines mentioned. Gruberova is Lucia - a cliché? perhaps, but
that's how I feel. Anyone who's seen her facial expression during the aria and
felt Lucia's horror alternating with the ecstatic sentiment of love, knows what
I mean. The splendid technique with the famous floating pianissimi in the
highest register, roulades, runs and trills form the solid ground for her unique
rendering of the fountain aria.
After the triumphant execution of O luce di quest' anima (from Donizetti's Linda di
Chamounix, which is the prima donna's latest success on stage), one certainly wondered if
anybody else could ever be taken seriously in that role again. Gruberova's teasingly easy
coloratura and intelligent phrasing brought the house down, after which the fans were
mercifully given the chance to calm down during the following L' Arlésienne 2. Suite
by Bizet. The official programme came to its close with the Finale from
Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Piangete voi?... Al dolce guidami... Coppia iniqua
(Anna's Mad Scene) showed the artist at her most poignant. The
aria rose majestically from the tender and desperate recitative to the
soaring heights of the cabaletta preceded by the elegiac aria itself marked
with Gruberova's most cheered trademarks, impeccable legati, sophisticated melodic
lines and crystal-clear diction.
After minutes of rhythmic handclaps, rapturous ovation, foot stomp and demands
for more from the audience in delirium, Gruberova gave three encores: Una voce
poco fa, Die Nachtigall and Spiel'ich die Unschuld vom Lande which were all
followed by a storm of applause and the last one by a standing ovation, that is
very rare indeed in Hungary. Gruberova's reliable and sensitive conductor was
Friedrich Haider who supported the soloist with some inspired playing from the