My Hero: Bel Canto Arias (CD)

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Greta Bradman

‘True old-fashioned bel canto sound – the sort we only dream about today’ announced Richard Bonynge, internationally recognized as one of the greatest of opera conductors and connoisseurs of the voice, speaking of the stunning Australian soprano Greta Bradman.

Bonynge chose Greta to sing the title role in a performance of Rodelinda in 2014 and the critics were lavish in their praise. ‘With a dark mezzo quality in her middle voice and an ability to float her voice when singing soft sustained notes and intricate coloratura passages, she was at times uncannily similar in vocal quality to Sutherland,’ wrote Classic Melbourne. On the strength of these performances, Bonynge invited Greta to record with him.

Recorded in London in May 2015 with the English Chamber Orchestra, Greta’s album will be released internationally on Decca – the label that is home to such great artists as Luciano Pavarotti, Renata Tebaldi, Cecilia Bartoli and Renée Fleming. Bonynge himself made well over a hundred records for Decca between 1962 and 1998, many with his late wife, Joan Sutherland. This album marks an auspicious return for the maestro to the label.

Entitled “My Hero”, the album is a tribute to many of Greta’s own musical heroes – Richard Bonynge, her maternal grandfather Horace Young (an amateur opera singer), and her paternal grandfather Donald Bradman, the legendary Australian cricketer with a lesser-known but ardent passion for music and especially the soprano voice.

It was Donald Bradman, himself a pianist, composer and former boy soprano soloist, as well as Horace Young, whose appreciation of the great voices imbued in their granddaughter a love for singers and singing. The old LPs in Donald’s collection that Greta adored as a little girl, return to inform the repertoire on her Decca operatic debut recording. Her ‘expansive vocal range, piercing strength and accelerative agility from brave, grounded low notes to glistening highs’ (AussieTheatre) is showcased on this album of music by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Bellini, Rossini, Verdi and Massenet, as well as such lighter fare as ‘When you wish upon a star’, ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls’.

The album takes the listener on a magic carpet ride, from the Baroque and Classical eras (Handel, Haydn, Mozart) to the ardent romanticism of Bellini and Verdi. From Kálmán and Straus we have gems from the world of operetta, perfect vehicles to display her ‘rare warmth and timbral richness’ (The Australian). From the fabled collaborations of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Harline & Washington, Greta offers ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’.

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The Times

"The best moments of My Hero come from Handel’s Rodelinda — Bradman has performed the title role complete — and a luxurious assortment from operetta and musical theatre, tipping into cheesy but just short of the full fondue."

The Listener

"Minimal vibrato, precise pitch, natural phrase shaping and a spinto voice voice of limpid and easy high notes are pluses... Another La Stupenda? A decade trained by Bonynge may make anything possible."

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  1. OSCAR STRAUS My Hero (The Chocolate Soldier)
  2. MASSENET Il est doux, il est bon (Hérodiade)
  3. BIZET C’est des contrebandiers … Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante (Carmen)
  4. BALFE I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls (The Bohemian Girl)
  5. BELLINI Casta Diva – Ah! Bello a me ritorna (Norma
  6. VERDI Vanne, lasciami … D’amor sull’ali rosee (Il trovatore)
  7. ROSSINI Una voce poco fa (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
  8. MOZART Ach ich liebte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail)
  9. HAYDN Filomena abbandonata L’anima del filosofo ossia Orfeo ed Euridice
  10. HANDEL Ombre, piante, urne funeste! (Rodelinda)
  11. HANDEL Morrai, sì l’empia tua testa (Rodelinda)
  12. HORN Cherry Ripe
  13. VERDI Mercé, dilette amiche (I vespri siciliani)
  14. KÁLMÁN Mein Traum, mein Traum (Kaiserin Josephine)
  15. RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN Edelweiss (The Sound of Music)
  16. HARLINE & WASHINGTON When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio)