That particular evening she gave a programme that I was familiar with from a BBC prom concert but she was slightly under the weather and her voice was not as free as it had been in London. That was until she launched into Orlando's going "furioso" from Vivaldi's opera and in what is basically an accompanied recitative she tore the place apart and had the Rome audience begging for more.
She has become something of a specialist in the baroque though her albums have also included composers from Brahms to Berg by way of Schumann, Hahn and Hector Berlioz. The one selection that I have on repeat is by the last composer. From his dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette here is the contralto aria from the Prologue: Heureux Enfants.
It may be best to use the "Watch on YouTube" button to see and more importantly hear this in HD.
Those first transports of love that no one forgets!Back in my misspent youth I had a passion for Berlioz particularly when sung by Janet Baker. The Berlioz crush waned - the Baker one never! - bu with Marie-Nicole's new CD and a few of the recent concerts at Santa Cecilia I am finding a new interest in the romanticism and complexity that is Berlioz.
The first confession, first vows of two lovers under the stars of Italy;
In the hot breeze-less air laden with the distant scent of orange blossom,
the nightingale singing with their sighs!
What art is in its song that can match your heavenly allure.
First love, are you not higher than any poetry?
Only Shakespeare in his poetry had your
supreme secret which he took with him to the stars.
Happy children with hearts aflame,
met by chance, one glance joining your two souls,
hide in the flowery shade,
the divine fire that consumes you,
this pure ecstasy which words turn to tears.
What royal degree could govern your chaste delirium,
what could equal your transports of love?
Happy children, what treasure would be paid
for just one of your smiles?
Ah! Savour the sweet cup of honey for as long as you can,
this cup sweeter than all the chalices from which the angels in heaven,
who are jealous of your passion, derive their pleasure.
22 marzo - San Benvenuto