The Divas and Their CDs

By Barry Bassis Created: February 11, 2013 Last Updated: February 11, 2013
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For home listening, both Fleming and Graham have a new CD.

“The Art of Renée Fleming” (on Decca) is a collection of some of the soprano’s most popular arias and songs.

These include “Un bel di vedremo,” “Casta Diva,” “Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore” and “O Silver Moon” from “Rusalka” along with the show tunes,

“Wheels of a Dream” with Bryn Terfel, “Somewhere,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Even better than the theater songs are “Amazing Grace” with Mark O’Connor on violin and a soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The alliterative title of Susan Graham’s new CD (on Onyx) is “Virgins, Vixens and Viragos.” 

The CD, on which Malcolm Martineau plays the piano accompaniment, shows off the mezzo’s dramatic and musical range—the tragic to the comic.

The tragic include “La Mort d’Ophélie,” here performed in the solo version, and “The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation” by Purcell. There are also six songs based on Goethe’s “Wilhelm Meister”—these are not only by different composers but from different countries, including Tchaikovsky’s “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (“None but the Lonely Heart”).

Some very funny songs are “The Physician” by Cole Porter and “The Boy from Tacarembo La Tumbe del Fuego” by Stephen Sondheim. The first is about a woman who is upset that her doctor is only interested in diagnosing her medical condition and the second is a sendup of “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Naxos has also re-issued Stravinsky’s complete score for the ballet “Pulcinella,” performed by the Seattle Symphony. It is conducted by Gerard Schwarz with soloists Susan Graham, Gram Wilson, and Jan Opalach. The recording is another reminder of the excellence of American musicians.

Barry Bassis is a New York based writer who covers music, theater, dining, and travel for various publications. He is a member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle.

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