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Linda Richardson has been a stalwart of the UK opera scene since she started as an ENO company principal in 1997, and now she presents her soprano in a generously filled programme of popular Italian arias. She gives us some that she has sung onstage in complete performance, and some that are not in her repertoire. On the whole I would have preferred more of the former as this seems to be where she is at her most comfortable. The album starts with Leonora’s ‘Pace, pace, mio Dio!’ from La forza del destino and it pushes her beyond her natural limits from the opening note – this is a lyric voice in a spinto role, and it shows. But by the time she settles into Bohème all is well and the tone sits comfortably within the phrases. Her Rigoletto Gilda, a key role for her, is still confidently voiced but the tone doesn’t possess the requisite girlishness; but she is a good Anna Bolena and uses a range of vocal colours. John Wilson conducts with passion – sometimes a little too much so, and Richardson is subsumed under the waves, the climactic phrases of the Forza aria being an example. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable album, especially if you have appreciated Richardson’s performances in the theatre.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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