In the season of celebration a critic may lead the revels or cast a shadow like the uninvited wedding-guest. In the present instance I can't quite wholeheartedly appear as the first and am unwilling to perform as the latter. Dessay is a singer of real merit, distinguished among her present-day colleagues and, as Michel Parouty's notes remind us, in line with some notables of the past. I don't find a personal timbre that might bring a thrill of recognition such as often arises out of a chance encounter with a great singer. Nor, in the flesh or to some extent on records, have I found a purity, warmth or (complete) steadiness of tone to draw me into its orbit and place it (let's say) among these I have loved.
But, make out a form where separate items in the high sporano's attainments are listed and I'd probably have to tick every box. Range, flexibility, intonation, precision, scale-work, trills, staccati: all of these. There is an imaginative care, too, which looks for poetry in the once-hackneyed songs of Dinorah and Lakmé. Juliette's waltz-song is animated with a youthful zest which knows that excitement may lie in the shade as well as in the light. Lucie's madness (for this is the French version) derives its effectiveness from keenly observed hints in the score interpreted with a full exercise of every technical and emotional faculty.
In the three Mozart arias she is particularly admirable. The Queen of Night imposes a glittering, fearsomely precise authority; her daughter (moved along at a quickish tempo) grows into womanhood and turns in dejection towards a kindly death; and in the concert aria Alceste addresses the people of Thessaly with passion, hitting squarely the G in alt, the highest note Mozart wrote for the voice. Rachmaninov's Vocalise muses luxuriously, and Bernstein's Cunegonde brings the unexpected revelation of comic grandeur.
The DVD shows her also to be a producer's dream, acting out his liveliest fancies, and singing just as well whether running about, lying down or copulating with a fly. She seems infinitely adaptable. For instance, in one production of Les contes d'Hoffmann, the doll is all jerky mechanics, in another (the song taken adagio) she appears to be comforting the inmates of an asylum, and in a third she is a diminutive Shirley Temple figure backed by six outsize replicas. There are two Zerbinettas, with only their notes and bare midriffs in common. The mad scenes of Lucie and Ophélie are undoubted triumphs but take an inordinately long time. “Glitter and be gay”, from the Glyndebourne celebration of 1997, is even better seen than merely heard, and so, according to taste (for this contains the copulatory matter) is the mouche duet from Orphée aux enfers, with the finale thrown in for good measure.
Natalie Dessay - (The) Miracle of the Voice
My gosh there's a lot of difficult ones for coloraturas out there. A big part of being a coloratura soprano is being able to do all those acrobatic melismas and jumps:
The most difficult arias for coloratura sopranos:
-Popoli Di Tessaglia (G#6) Mozart concert aria for soprano
-O zittre nicht Mein Lieber Sohn-The Queen of the Night's first aria from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflote (one F6) The high F isn't even the most difficult part if your a natural coloratura. The hardest part is the Bb5 section overall where it has the extensive coloratura section, which yes just so happens to end on the F6 at the end. You have to have great breath control to make it even less than halfway through the coloratura melismas. Unlike the more staccato coloratura passages in the Queen of the Night's second renowned aria, Der Holle Rache, O zittre nicht has more lyrical beginning, and legato coloratura passages. Besides, the tessitura of this aria goes up to a Bb5.
-Der Holle Rache (4 F6s that I've counted) I've never learned either of the Queen's arias, but I have them in a songbook. I counted four F6's in Der Holle Rache). Once again, it's not the F6's that are the super hard part (I can hit those), it's the sheer power, drama, and high tessitura that comes with great coloratura control at that high pitch. This is the Queen's big "Drama Queen" song literally.
-Martern Aller Arten Konstanze's second aria from Mozart's opera Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail- Another dramatic coloratura aria. It only goes up to a D6, which is often a high note for many lyric sopranos. However, there aren't many lyric sopranos could ever sing this coloratura aria. It's a lovely aria that goes up and down quickly with coloratura melismas. As Salieri puts it in the Amadeus movie this aria is "10 minutes of ghastly scales whizzing up and down like fireworks." Of course, I disagree with the "ghastly" part, I think this aria is fantastic and beautiful, but those quick scales whiz zing up and down certainly wouldn't be an easy feat at a tessitura that reaches a C6.
-The dramatic coloratura version of Sempre Libera from La Traviata- it has Eb6 flats and 13 descending high C6s
-I don't know much about this opera or the arias from it, but Lucia's arias from Lucia di Lamermoor (Il suono dolce, I think goes to an Eb6-E6
-Caro Nome (B3-C#6/Db6) from Verdi's Rigoletto I haven't learned to sing this one yet, but when I have more technique I hope to learn it. It has a mixed tessitura going up to an A5 this aria is light, almost ethereal, and very difficult. A great amount of air required to sing this. It has an almost an "airy" sound, but not quite because the words must be articulate and the air flow properly controlled. This is an aria that most coloratura soprano
singers, even the most famous professionally trained opera singers, don't usually learn to sing until they are in their mid 20s to early 30s. I think that it has to do with having the ability to sound light and youthful, but also dark and mature at the same time. There aren't many young coloratura sopranos under the age of 25 who have fully matured voices. Either way, when I search on Youtube this aria is rarely chosen for college students voice recitals.
Ah! Jeux Veux Vivre from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette (D6)- Not one that I've learned yet, but it's still one that I want to learn at some point in college when I'm ready. This aria uses chromatic scales in coloratura melismas that go up and down. It doesn't necessarily require as much air as Caro Nome, but this aria is still difficult due to the long coloratura melismas.