This new release of "Arabella" with Renée Fleming is not just a treat for all Richard Strauss lovers but for all lovers of great singing and acting.
Among all the singers I would point out the revelation of Julia Kleiter as a radiant Zdenka. Her portrait of Arabella's sister is at the same time innocent and full of passion and her voice is unbelievably pure, crystal-clear, a real Mozartian and Straussian singer. I am sure Ms Kleiter will become a great soprano star in this repertoire in the near future.
Morten Frank Larsen, called at the last minute to replace Thomas Hampson, gives a fully believable Mandryka, physically attractive, proud and arrogant as any good Mandryka should be, with a powerful baritone voice only marred by a slight wobble in his higher register.
But what makes this new release really unforgettable is the tender, poignant, unbelievably beautiful Arabella of Ms. Fleming. Her evolution from the flirtatious young woman of the first Act to the romantic, self-determined and mature heroine of the last scenes is utterly believable. Her duet with Kleiter "Aber der Richtige" is pure magic with the voices blending perfectly and her encounter with Mandryka at the Faschings Ball, burns with fire and passion. Her voice, in resplendent, luscious form, soars effortlessly to the highest register. Her last aria, "Das war sehr gut, Mandryka" must rank among the most gorgeous Strauss singing on CD or DVD ever! Above all Ms. Fleming's interpretation will surely make you fall in love with this Arabella.
Brava Ms. Fleming, your Arabella is really Bella!!!!!
And here's a little sample of what's waiting for you...