Kate Lindsey: Ariana

Kate Lindsey: Arianna
Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
Outthere/Alpha Classics Alpha 576. 72/13

Cover Alpha 576

A Scarlatti: L’Arianna (Ebra d’amor fuggia)
Handel: Ah! Crudel, nel pianto mio
Haydn: Arianna a Naxos

Arianna is a programme from the American mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, focussed on contrasting cantatas by three composers on the myth of Ariadne (aka Arianna). She was the daughter of King Minos of Crete and granddaughter of the Sungod Helios. She stars in the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, saving Theseus from the maze, falling in love with him, and then being cast off onto the Island of Naxos.

The CD opens with Alessandro Scarlatti’s Ebra d’amor fuggia, a dramatic tour de force which seems to change extremes of mood within a single word as Arianna loses it with the treacherous Theseus. Kate Lindsey brings real drama to recitatives and arias in this impressive work. In Handel’s Ah! Crudel, nel pianto mio Arianna doesn’t get a mention, but the mood reflects the myth. He reused bits of it in Agrippina. Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos has a particularly tragic conclusion, with the unfortunate Arianna on the verge of suicide. It was written for singer and piano, but a later orchestrated version is performed here.

It is fascinating to hear cantatas from three different periods on the same theme. Kate Lindsey is a well-established opera singer, usually appearing in much later repertoire than the three composers on this recording. I can admire her wish to move into an earlier repertoire, but do wonder if she really considered the different voice type that the three composers would have envisaged from their singers.

She is supported by the impressive ensemble Arcangelo, directed by Jonathan Cohen and could have learnt a lot from listening to their period-instrument players as they demonstrated aspects of articulation, musical line and clarity of tone in timbre. As it is, she seems to have retained her normal operatic voice, impressive as it is, for a repertoire that really demands a different approach. My main issue is with her uncontrolled vibrato which, to me, would have been an issue even in a later repertoire than these three works. It really does interfere with intonation and the stability of the vocal line. With so many young period-informed sopranos around who Arcangelo would have loved to support, it is a bit of a shame that this disc is focussed on a star singer from a different world.

That said, she displays an impressive range of emotions in her clearly virtuosic singing. She clearly has many follows in the world of more recent opera, and if this introduces them to the fascinating world of earlier composers, that is all to the good.