Mozart's concert arias are not really generically independent from his operas. They were mostly written for insertion into operas by a singer, often Mozart's girlfriend and then sister-in-law Aloysia Weber, who wanted to display her talents to their best advantage. As such, however, they stand out from other operatic arias as some of the most difficult vocal pieces Mozart composed.
The glamorous young French coloratura stunned everyone at the EMI Gala at Glyndebourne in 1997 with a dazzling rendition of Cunegonde’s ‘Glitter and be gay’ from Bernstein’s Candide: it was an unexpected choice but Dessay delivered it with such wit, needle-point precision and sheer insouciance that she won all hearts. Why she has yet to appear in either a Glyndebourne or Covent Garden production – though debuts are planned in both theatres for 2002 – is one of the great mysteries of British operatic life, for Dessay, as her EMI album of French operatic arias (5/97) amply demonstrated, is an acclaimed star in Vienna, Salzburg, the New York Met and, of course, the French capital, where she is something close to a cult figure.
Soprano Natalie Dessay leaves the dizzy heights of Bellini’s Amina, Donizetti’s Marie and Massenet’s Manon to inhabit the more discreet emotional and vocal world of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with a cast of fellow francophones…
Two icons of French song – Natalie Dessay and Michel Legrand – follow the huge worldwide success of their album Entre Elle et Lui with a DVD of the very special concert on the 11th June 2014 at the Orangerie of the Château de Versailles. This is a unique collaboration from two giants of French music. The CD release in 2013 was hotly anticipated and received great critical acclaim upon its release. Natalie Dessay brings her lyrical voice and fresh interpretations to a selection of some of Michel Legrand’s best-loved songs including La Valse des Lilas, Les moulins de mon cœur (Windmills of Your Mind), Duo de Guy et Geneviève, Papa Can You Hear Me and many more.
On previous releases, Natalie Dessay has established herself as perhaps the leading coloratura soprano of the day. Consider, for example, her artistry on the 1998 Lakmé. From the sensational fireworks heard in The Magic Flute's "Queen of the Night" arias that open and close this stimulating disc, her venture into the Mozart repertory is a resounding success. Dessay's elaborate embellishments in the arias from some of Mozart's little-known earlier works are as breathtaking–the high-flying aria from Ascanio in Alba leaves one begging for more. But roles like Pamina in The Magic Flute and Kostanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio are more properly the province of lyric sopranos, and often one feels the need for a voice with more expansive depth. Dessay nicely captures the tenderness in her affecting "Ach, ich fühl" lines, but Kostanze's "Martern aller Arten" would benefit from a juicier mid- and lower range. But the coloratura arias alone are worth hearing for their thrilling vocalism. –Dan Davis
Natalie Dessay made her first European appearances as Violetta in La traviata in a new production by the French director Jean-François Sivadier at the 2011 Aix-en-Provence Festival. This DVD captures her intense performance in the company of American tenor Charles Castronovo as Alfredo and French baritone Ludovic Tézier as his father, Giorgio Germont. “Her theatrical impact is devastating,” wrote the Financial Times…
Natalie Dessay is one of great delights of the opera world today and her recordings have all been excellent. This however ,in my opinion , is her best disc to date. Her voice is so suited to the music. My only hope is that if a production of Giulio Cesare comes to Royal Opera House they cast Natalie Dessay . The conductor (Emmanuelle Haïm) and Orchestra (Le Concert d'Astrée) bring the music alive. This disc is 65 minutes of sheer joy.