Italian soprano Lucia Aliberti offers a collection of early Verdi arias here. Nothing is included from the two familiar operas of this period, Il Trovatore and La Traviata. This has the tendency to remove the album from the sphere of general listenership, which would have gotten more out of Aliberti's ideas if given a few famous pieces to anchor their perceptions. But for Verdi buffs there are some seldom-recorded arias here, and they are done very well. Aliberti both characterizes each heroine in some detail and catches the subtle variations Verdi applies to the combination of slow cavatina and emotionally explosive cabaletta that is excerpted from most of the operas. Indeed, she links these formal and interpretive characteristics together: in some of the pairs it is the delicate cavatina that is the focus, and Aliberti's lyrical feel and precise pitch control are all that could be desired. At the very top of the cabalettas' range she does not (or does not yet) have tremendous power, but she adds tension by sliding a bit off the pitch and is nowhere less than musical. The energetic backing from the Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi works as a real ensemble with Aliberti, showcasing her strengths and hiding her few weaknesses, and idiomatic sound from Challenge Classics' engineers, working at the Auditorium in Milan, is a bonus. The two famous operas might have enhanced the package even for cognoscenti, but there are some nice finds here for Verdi enthusiasts.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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