Recorded in 1976, when she was already 35, this was Ileana Cotrubas’s first and only recital disc. The playing time of the original disc being somewhat short, Sony have here added excerpts from the excellent complete recording of L’Elisir d’Amore also under Sir John Pritchard, Depuis le jour, from the complete Prêtre recording of Louise and O mio babino caro from Maazel’s Gianni Schicchi.
As Cotrubas herself says in the notes, Leonora’s Pace, pace was somewhat unexpected, a role that Cotrubas was never likely to sing on stage, and it really does need a fuller tone. I’m not sure if she ever sang Liu or Magda, but she could well have done and the other arias are all from her active repertoire.
It opens with a charming performance of Norina’s Quel gaurdo il cavaliere from Don Pasquale, a role she sang at Covent Garden at around the same time. She was a highly successful Susanna at Glyndebourne in 1973 (alongside Te Kanawa’s beautiful Countess and Freredica Von Stade’s radiantly ebullient Cherubino, performances which catapulted all three to stardom) and she is quite delightful in her Deh vieni.
The other side of her personality is captured in a deeply felt Ach ich fühl’s, and the natural morbidezza (an Italian word without any direct translation) which suited her to roles like Mimi and Violetta, is here displayed in her singing of the Puccini arias (Si, mi chiamano Mimi, Liu’s Tu, che di gel sei cinto, and Ch’il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine.) Though there is a hint of strain in the upper reaches of Gilda’s Caro nome, the aria also suits her well, and it here emerges as a dreamy reverie rather than the coloratura showpiece it often is.
The L’Elisir d’Amore excerpts are lovely in every way, as is Lauretta’s O mio babino caro, and Depuis le jour well captures Louise’s quiet intensity and mounting rapture.
A lovely memento of a well-loved artist.