Anna Caterina Antonacci / Donald Sulzen - Wigmore Hall, 23 November 2009
Fauré Cinq mélodies de Venise Hahn Tyndaris and Phyllis from Études latines, Fumée, L’énamourée, Le printemps Bachelet Chère Nuit Respighi Three canti all'antica, Pioggia, Nebbie Zandonai Paolo, date mi pace! from Francesca da Rimini Encores: Mascagni Son pochi fiori from L'Amico Fritz Trad. Lu cardillo
Despite her superb Carmen a couple of years back, the Royal Opera House have criminally failed to invite Anna Caterina Antonacci back yet. So it's fortunate she's become a regular Wigmore Hall visitor. This lunchtime recital caught her at her very best.
Disregarding the hour and the atrocious wintery weather outside, she embodied la bella figura in a bewb-framing strappy black gown crowned at the cleavage with a giant rose, a sequinned lace shawl twinkling around her shoulders.
The temperature was low for Fauré's Cinq mélodies de Venise, her silvery singing poised and elegant, but so cool it kind of made you wonder what the fuss was about. Antonacci really comes into her own where there's more at stake emotionally, as the rest of the programme showed.
She was ardent and engaging in a handful of Hahn songs, dramatically involving in operatic extracts from Zandonai and Mascagni. A rich palette of colours united words and music. Her commanding physical presence communicated so much more, with an understated and unselfconscious projection perfectly scaled to the recital hall. Her dark, gleaming soprano was as easy and effortless as a jazz singer's, evenly produced from top to bottom. Picture painting is not her greatest strength but she can inhabit an emotion so totally you could believe she's making up the words as she goes along.
The recital was also broadcast by Radio 3. It's available on iPlayer until 30 November and repeated on Saturday at 2pm. Although recording never seems to do Antonacci full justice, it's still worth a listen.