Danielle de Niese

Handel: Arias

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Given Danielle de Niese's astronomic rise to prominence in the late twentieth century (she made her Met debut at the age of 19 as Barbarina), it's surprising it took until 2007 for her voice to make it onto disc, but it was worth the wait. For her first album she has chosen a recital of arias from Handel operas, some familiar and some relatively obscure. She has a spontaneity and unaffected manner that confirm her assertion in the program notes that she sings for the pure joy of it. She has the agility to manage Handel's coloratura pyrotechnics with lightness and security, and is equally at home in the emotional gravity of the laments, to which she brings real depth and pathos, particularly in "Lascia ch'io pianga," from Rinaldo, and "Piangerò la sorte mia," from Giulio Cesare. "Myself I shall adore," from Semele, besides showing off her velvety legato, demonstrates a real gift for humor. De Niese is discreet in her ornamentation of the da capo arias; in the laments, she is particularly sensitive, avoiding inappropriate vocal displays out of character with the grief expressed in the music. William Christie conducts Les Arts Florissants in a bravura performance that's both crisp and nuanced. Decca's sound is deep, warm, and clean. De Niese's spectacular recital should be of interest to fans of Baroque opera, and of intelligent, emotionally honest coloratura singing.

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