Bel Canto Reloaded – new reviews

The pean for bel canto – Kortárs, Zoltán Péter, February 2014

In the first half of the 19th century Italian star-singers actually expected from the composers to write such a pieces for them, in which they would be able to show in its whole glory their virtuoso singing technique. For that reason usually the operas were composed for specific artists, and so the roles got adjusted for the exceptionally gifted performers. Also because of that bel canto operas are not that often played in the world’s music theaters. However, if there is a singer with such a special talent – as Sutherland, Gruberova, or Callas – who is able to perform multiple Bellini and Donizetti heroines on a high level, it would be a shoot in the foot not to put these pieces on stage.

The Hungarian public is in a fortunate situation, in which the State Opera has at its disposal such an extraordinarily talented primadonna in the person of Klára Kolonits. It is proven by the first solo album of the artist, Bel Canto Reloaded. On the disc we may find a cross-section of finely selected excerpts taken from rarely played operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi.

Being a dramatic coloratura soprano, Kolonits is able to interpret lyrical roles equally well. Beautiful examples for that are Bellini pieces: Giulietta’s romanza from the first act of I Capuleti e I Montecchi is an oneirical, emotional reverie in its whole, but the first part of Elvira’s (from I Puritani) operates with lyrical colours as well. Kolonits interprets both perfectly: Giulietta’s romanza if full of wonderful legatos and Elvira’s aria is blessed with a palette dynamic subtleties. Rosina’s Una voce poco fa (from Rossini’s Barber of Seville) and the aria of Linda di Chamounix both open great possibilites for the singer to let shine her technical virtuosity. Kolonits’ coloraturas roll and trill gracefully between octaves, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. In the closing scene of Anna Bolena she impersonates genuinely the title character who although having been put on the edge of madness, merits better fate.

Her interpretation of the last moments of the English Queen results so overwhelming, that it is no overstatement to say that she would be one of the greatest interpreters of the title roles in the modern performance practice of this piece. But not only Anna Bolena, but also Lucrezia Borgia’s final aria proves, that her place is right among the greatest singers of belcanto.

Among the excerpts coming from the early operas of Verdi we may find for instance Te vergin santa invoco – prayer from I Lombardi, full of wonderful legatos and long piano harmonies, which is in addition a perfect example of atmosphere-building. Complete different character is Odabella from Attila, whose Santo di patria aria got into the selection as well – and in which Kolonits is concentrating all the attention on her dramatic passages. The same can be said about the greatest surprise of the CD, completely unknown piece from Macbeth, the Trionfai! cabaletta of the maniacally wild Lady overwhelmed with illusion of power, which has been removed by Verdi from the score after the premiere. Kolonits pulls the madness up to extremity with tense tempo, punctuation and precise high notes.

Nevertheless not only the primadonna of Bel Canto Reloaded but also the conductor deserves attention. Dániel Dinyés’ exceptional musicality and clear hand create proper orchestral background for Kolonits. His punctual, well-chosen tempos result in brilliant and rich accompaniment, which contributes to the expression of lyrical and dramatic moods. Klára Kolonits with her solo CD gave a beautiful proof of being exceptionally talented singer. (…)

Bel Canto Reloaded – Caruso blog, Márton Karczag March 2015

(…)Klára Kolonits and her husband Dániel Dinyés very carefully chose the repertoire for the album. It spreads among 3 decades – The Barber of Seville had its premiere in 1816, Macbeth – in 1847  The cd brings therefore its listener to the golden age of bel canto, to the fourth decade of 19th century – to the age, when two things stood in the center of the opera: the primadonna and her voice. The leading – mainly female – parts’ main purpose was to show  all kinds the vocal virtuosity of the singers to the listener.

Klára Kolonits gives us first of all beautiful, full of life singing, but the artist is not only revealing the secrets of the music scores: she is indeed playfully bathing in the coloratura possibilities that were given to the 19th century primadonnas. Each aria speaks about another state of mind and soul, so that the soprano has an opportunity to get into the skin of all kinds of characters from the ethereal Giulietta, through death-sentenced Anna Boleyn, up to the brave Odabella – and only if she had not been an opera singer, the stage personality would have not involuntarily flare up in her. In these moments the drama puts back the “beautiful singing” aside, and papier-mache figures come into flesh and blood.

Arias of multifarious mood are brought together very precisely, they show all the shades of bel canto world. The major part of nine featured pieces has not been recorded by any Hungarian artist until now. Klára Kolonits shows how uniquely one can ornament Rosina’s cavatina for instance: if someone has enough fantasy and technique to do so. In addition, the virtuosity is never an art for art’s sake, and the soprano is in her absolute prime, as if her voice simply had no limit (…).

This CD bears some kind of well-understood audacity. As if Klára Kolonits threw down her gauntlet, saying: “I can do this and that, you are most welcome to do it after me!”. The singer’s secret might be the fact, that after many years she still passionately loves what she is doing and believes in it.

It gives her incredible strength – in this world, that has lost its faith. (…)  It’s very exciting, what the Hungarian artist might think on this or that piece – and not only a whole aria, she actually has her own opinion on every single note in the score, which is interesting and unique by itself already. A lot of artists are respected, a lot of them have fans, but Klára Kolonits, as it seems, is simply loved

– and this is the greatest thing that a singer, a person can get. And for those who love her, this CD is a gift. And why isn’t a world star someone, who sings like this? Maybe because Klára Kolonits is of some kind. And it seems that the managers and directors of our times do not really know what to do with a kind, they like plastic, nondescript figures more. We can be proud and happy about having such a kind of a singer as Klára Kolonits is of!

Sopranos, the interpreters – Magyar Krónika, Szilveszter Ókovács, March 2015

(…) It’s not easy to be a soprano: physiologically it is the most popular type of voice, and there are numerous good singers among them: yet we need just one in the opera. (…) And while nowadays everything is specialized, the soprano Fach is also divided; who sings Mozart, does not sing Wagner, and what’s more, the personality is equally important: who produces joyful coloraturas, is not the same who bids farewell to the world in a great symphonic tableau. Klára Kolonits is way above side lines and what’s more, she does not stop there: has enough energy and will to create self-managed album out of her favourite arias. You have everything in here, from Donizetti’s charming Linda de Chamounix up to dramatic Verdi’s Odabella – and all that is believable. (…) An active role plays the colorful, well led orchestra as well. The soprano is flexible: sweet in joyful laughter or broad as violent storm: and many more of what does she find expressive in the old sheet music. Up and down, and what’s even more difficult: everything in the middle register sounds perfectly. I would like to bring to your attention Klára Kolonits’ interpretations, on the album and on stage. (…) I hope there are still quite a few of us who are looking for genuine, true interpretations, and who wish genuine singing renditions to be the essence of opera; and not genuine, yet roaring exhibitions.

The bonus-game of finest sort – Revizor, János Malina, May 2015

The New Grove dictionary of Music defines bel canto in multiple ways. According to one of them, the formal one, it means the way of singing in the times of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. The other, determining the content, says that bel canto is such a style of singing, in which the beauty of voice, expressed through richly decorated melodies, is in the center of attention. Klára Kolonits’ Bel Canto Reloaded CD finds the equilibrium between both. Next to the great triad also Verdi appears on the disc – but only in some excerpts of his early operas. The pieces have been assorted very fortunately, tastefully balancing the virtuosity and the meaningful musical content. The second Grove’s definition is taken into consideration in the person of Kolonits Klára herself: with her charming art and grace she delivers exceptional experience to the listener. The Hungarian Studio Orchestra (concertmaster: Balázs Bujtor) under the baton of Dániel Dinyés, Á la c’ARTe chorus led by Philipp György and three accompanying soloists: Atala Schöck, Donát Varga and Géza Gábor all contribute to the final striking effect of the CD. As such, the album content is of impeccable quality and it is much more difficult to write about such an achievement. Where do I start?

Let’s say, at the beginning, with the only piece by Rossini, and probably the most famous one as of all the composer’s works, as of the featured arias on the album – Una voce poco fa from the Barber of Seville. It is perfect as a greeting and presentation anyway: in a well-known piece we can judge the given performance and compare to the other singers. Already at the first hearing we can admire the infinite culture of the singer, who is simply swimming in the freedom given by the style, and whose coloratura is similar to a flow of pearls, and simply: wonderful. And how different is Rosina’s full of life figure from soft pureness and of Giulietta, who is coming next, fluttering as a little bird – and of course, Bellini’s atmosphere building, soul depicting abilities were coming close to their best when he was composing I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Kolonits naturally and radiantly appears in this role and this musical setting as well – and quickly we get to the conclusion, that she does in everything.

The third number is aria of Linda de Chamounix by Donizetti: so silvery is the sounding bell in Kolonits’ voice among the descending staccato passages, that we just stop the player and go back a couple of bars because we never heard such a thing. We get assured that Kolonits’ intonation is not only impeccable in the melodious cantabile-s, but in the most virtuoso coloraturas as well – and such a thing can be said about really few singers – such as the fact, that even in the highest notes, that can be barely written on the note paper, her voice is not harsh, she just maintains without strain the beauty and roundness of her voice. This is surely even more exceptional bravery.

But as we listen the CD, it is not the coloratura virtuosity that we admire all the time: more and more attention we devote to Klára Kolonits’ magical soul depicting, atmosphere building and telepathy-abilities. She is performing flawlessly all the ornamentations and always with such ease and grace, that we do not even notice: even the most acrobatic parts are achieved in such a way, that the very particular situation and character radiates through them, and not the performing artist: and such interpretation depth and genuineness is truly deserving praise.

Now, when we had a look at the most important factors of the suggestive power of the album, it will be enough if we just mark another couple of memorable numbers. Such is Elvira’s aria from I Puritani (Qui la voce) – its depressive, yet hypnotically beautiful beginning leads to strikingly dramatic and exultant finale, which gives Klára Kolonits chance to show herself in a more decisive and expressive way. Such is Donizetti’s Anna Bolena famous and tragically powerful closing scene, which thanks to a great decision can be found on the CD in its 18-minutes-long whole, and works as a true bonus-game for the artist. And equally poignant is the Giselda’s prayer from Verdi’s I Lombardi, one can truly realize his faith hearing it: the genius of Verdi already in 1843 was doubtless for those who were willing to listen. I won’t go on like this – please just listen the Bel Canto Reloaded album!

Diva of a golden throat – Magyar Demokrata, Péter Spangel, May 2015

Where the times are, whole opera and aria CDs featuring Hungarian artists appeared one after another? A fresh exception would be the last years’ publications of our music theatre, but there was practically no example for a solo CD of an opera soloist. And because of that this is a very good news to announce, that the solo album of the Opera’s great coloratura, Klára Kolonits, appeared in December and is already taking central place in the exhibition of a Viennese music store. Twelve excerpts of nine operas of four composers made it to the final selection and appeared on the album, under the baton of Dániel Dinyés, the artist’s husband. Soprano arias of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi are sung with virtuoso technique and inspiring interpretation. Out of visionary work of the creators a simply joyful CD came into light. (…)

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