There’s nothing like this… or love at first hearing

Café Momus, Antal Z. Tóth, December 2014

It’s a week I have Klára Kolonits’ new album stick in my cd player. Since then I am continuously trying to describe, what do I hear. The task is double: I write a page, then proofreading I take half of the ecstatic superlatives out, then I play the CD again and with the same passion I write even more – and this is still just not enough. I find the album stupendous, it impressed me at the first sight – at the first hearing(…).

Already the naturally noble timbre, that is such a rare feature for a soprano, is quite impressive. (…)Two different moods alternate for the major part on the Kolonits’ CD, and both of them are delivered ingeniously. In the melancholic aria of Giulietta from the Bellini’s opera the singer operates mainly with lyrical colours, sings great legatos, melting them into each other gracefully, as if they were constructed on one single breath. Linda di Chamounix’ aria follows, beguiling with charming virtuosity; the coloraturas just run spontaneously, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to flit up and down throughout the octaves (…).

The Elvira’s aria from I Puritani at its beginning is again lyrical, enchanting with its well-balanced precision, just to become the untrammeled bravura technique explosion in the faster part. For a long time I resisted, but here comes the time to mention Karola Ágai’s name. (…) It’s miraculous, but there’s still a lot to be heard.

In the next part of the album the palette gets yet enrichened by two fragments from Verdi operas. The Odabella’s aria hits with a furious dramatism – and with the idea, that this kind of dramatic coloratura roles might mean a real perspective for the singer. Giselda’s prayer from I Lomardi follows. Practically each and every sound is linked in an endless long piano: a wonderful example for the character’s and situation’s portrayal.

We may find a whole Anna Bolena section on the CD: in these four movements Kolonits shows everything, that one may understand under bel canto singing definition. Which I find the most important, is the fact that the singer is not putting any restriction on herself choosing this repertoire (as one may think) but exactly on the contrary. With broad and fearless use of the bel canto elements her dramatic expression gets even richer. This part of the album gets crowned with the final cabaletta of Lucrezia Borgia: it won’t be too much if I say that it bears the comparison with whichever of the recordings I’ve ever heard.

The true crown is yet to come, but I had literally no idea about that until I heard the last track. It was Verdi himself, who took the Lady’s Trionfai! cabaletta out from the score of the first (1847) version of his Macbeth. I truly suspect he wouldn’t have done this, if he had heard the piece in Klára Kolonits’ performance. The scene depicted is the one, when the overwhelming euphoria about the possibility of becoming the queen takes over Lady’s mind for the first time. While Macbeth just forced himself to go to kill Banquo, the woman is already triumphing, goes unleashedly insane, passionately frenzy. I think that Verdi planned it like this, but the interpreters of the role of his epoqie (and all of the 20th century ones that I heard) were able to transmit only a partial, toned down madness with the piece, so that the composer thought that the music is faulty and swapped the scene with interesting, exciting, but completely different aria La luce langue.

Yet here Kolonits goes the whole hog, does everything that is possible within the genre. She creates with dramatic accents, animated tempo, incredible sparks of the top notes: and with high F-s she simply brings the madness of Lady Macbeth to the infinity. If revelation exists, for me this is it. In this three-and a half minute scene Klára Kolonits wrote the opera history. I don’t know who might have been the last Hungarian singer who managed to do such a thing, but at the moment it is really not  essential.

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